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Journey From the Fall
Journey From the Fall
Actors: Kieu Chinh, Long Nguyen, Diem Lien, Jayvee Mai The Hiep, Khanh Doan
Director: Ham Tran
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2007     2hr 15min

(Foreign/Drama) April 30 1975: the Fall of Saigon. American troops withdraw from Vietnam and the 21-year civil war is at an end. Four million Vietnamese are dead. Half a million South Vietnamese who fought with the America...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kieu Chinh, Long Nguyen, Diem Lien, Jayvee Mai The Hiep, Khanh Doan
Director: Ham Tran
Creators: Guillermo Rosas, Julie Kirkwood, Ham Tran, Angela Sostre, Jason Black, Lam Nguyen
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Imaginasian
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/30/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 15min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Vietnamese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

"re-education"---at home and abroad
Daniel B. Clendenin | | 12/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When the credits run at the end of this film, director and writer Ham Tran (a graduate of UCLA 's film school) dedicates his wrenching drama to the millions of ordinary citizens who fled Vietnam on boats (the "boat people") or who, having stayed behind out of loyalty to their country, were subjected to horrific "re-education" camps because they dared to oppose the "revolution." The story begins with the fall of Vietnam to the communists on April 30, 1975, and ends in Orange County, California in 1981. Tran follows the harrowing fate and fortunes of one family (and in various sub-plots their friends). The father, Long, is imprisoned in successive re-education camps. He insists that his wife, mother, and son flee on the overcrowded, rickety boats. And so a deeply loving family is rent asunder. The communists in their brutality, observes the grandmother, "have lost their humanity." I won't spoil the film by revealing what happens to the family, only to say that the challenge of immigrating to the US is as arduous as surviving as a refugee. The film has won awards at sixteen film festivals. In Vietnamese with English subtitles."
The End Of One Nightmare, And The Beginning Of Another
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 11/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Directed and written by Ham Tran, "Journey from the Fall," is a very emotional film. The films narrative is based on fictional characters, but in a sense these characters are representative of the millions of South Vietnamese who were displaced, forced to leave their country, or sent to re-education camps after the fall of Saigon. The film reminded me in many ways of "The Killing Fields" starring the late Haing S. Ngor. And while "The Killing Fields" dealt with Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, it has much in common with the film "Journey from the Fall," in that it deals with the aftermath of Americas absence from Southeast Asia, and what befell those who were left behind. In this particular film, the director weaves three main narratives into the film.

One of these narratives revolves around the father Long (Long Nguyen). It is April 1975, and the North Vietnamese have nearly conquered the South. However, Long believes it is his duty to continue fighting for Saigon until the very end. He tells his wife Mai (Diem Lien) that he must remain behind to carry on the fight, while imploring her to leave for America with their young son Lai (Nguyen Thai Nguyen) and the grandmother Ba Noi (Keiu Chinh). I found the fathers narrative to be the most fascinating in the film. As the film moves forward, the viewer is witness to the infamous RE-EDUCATION camps that were so prominent with communist regimes. Those who fought in the former government are considered traitors, and as such, they MUST be re-educated along communist dogma---before they are allowed to fit into the new social order of the now reunified country.

The viewer sees the plight of the father as he endures years of imprisonment in the re-education camps, while at the same time, we see the emotional strain this is causing on the rest of the family. Grandmother is excellently cast in her role, as she recounts legendary tales to the young grandchild Lai. Amidst all of the emotional pain the family is going through now that the father is separated from them, is the ever present thought of escape to America. When the family decides the time is right for escape, they encounter a very perilous journey. The director did a very good job with the set designs in the open seas, as you can sense the claustrophobic feeling of the families who are attempting to escape Vietnam in a small fishing boat. Moreover, there is the ever present danger of pirates who prey on the open seas: And this is vividly portrayed in the film.

When the family eventually arrives in America, they encounter the usual hostility newcomers often face. Further, the director shows in both subtle, and not so subtle ways the discrimination that befalls the newcomers in their new home--especially those of the young boy Lai. However, there is more to the film than the families escape to America. We see the constant perils of those who are in the re-education camps and their hopes of finally gaining freedom. For while the director shows those who have finally found freedom, he also gives us a glimpse of many others who are still in the re-education camps who firmly believe and hope that they will one day be released, or will release themselves through bribery or escape from the camps. Will the father finally find freedom? I don't wish to divulge too much in this review, as there are some very important parts of the film I did not explore, which will only ruin the film for you. I recommend the film highly. For a more in-depth review, I recommend viewers take a look at the reviewer Woopak's review. He has given an outstanding review of the film. [Stars: 4.5]"
Not for Jane Fonda Followers
Hopeful | Bay Area (Calif) | 12/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Okay, so I'm a sucker for human interest stories. But this movie blew me away. I remember the Vietnam War because I was almost old enough to be drafted by the end of our involvement in the war. And I remember when some of the boat people moved into our small western Pennsylvania town. Everything else I got from the television news - unfortunately. I had no inkling what those people went through on their various journeys to get to America. All I knew is what I was told by my teachers and what I read in the newspapers.

Recall the 2004 national elections when some left wing politicians said that some of those left behind in South Vietnam - later sent to the Viet Cong re-education camps - fared pretty well. It was like saying the Nazi concentration camps were picnic grounds. And while this movie makes no political statements, it does show how wrong the major media outlets were and have been for a very long time. If you remember that time - 1975 - then you remember what we were led to believe - we were duped by the Walter Cronkites and Jane Fondas of the world.

I don't expect this movie to ever be mentioned at the Academy Awards this coming February. Pity."
Great story of the "Re-Education Camp" and "Boat People".
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 11/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one beautiful film and more of a tear-jerker per say. Reviewers Ernest and Woopak has already said it best by giving in an extraordinary in-depth review which left me to fem for myself. After watching this tonight I thought Ham Tran's "Journey From the Fall" ought to stand on its own two feet despite offhanded comparisons to Schindler's List . It is by turns a tough and tender survival story of Vietnamese boat people that's more intimate, less remorseful, and not in slightest bit self-righteous. It concerns the plight of the Nguyen family post-Vietnam war: husband Long is imprisoned in a series of grueling re-education camps, forced into hard labour and the regularly fatal practice of clearing landmines; meanwhile his wife, mother and son defect via an overcrowded vessel headed anywhere but `Nam. Initially harrowing and without hope, the film relocates at its mid-point to California in the 80's, where the family have immigrated successfully, albeit uneasily, with the undertow of those left behind a heavy burden to bear.

Crucially, Tran narrows the focus from the outset, allaying the broad chaos and resentment of a war-ravaged country in favour of the closeness of his four affected family members - the universality of their flight bound to resonate with most Vietnamese (9 out of 10 in the US, for instance, either were or knew boat people), as well as anyone who's sought refuge from their tarnished homeland. With a generous budget, this is impressively fielded in scale, yet maintains a modesty that's humbling.

Come to fine out this was financed by producers Stateside, but the American influence is otherwise non-existent: there are no marines or platoons; no embittered war veterans in wheelchairs; nor is there the overbearing presence of an Oliver Stone. He may not admit to it, but "Journey From the Fall" is also Tran's backlash against imperialism: just as Americans are compelled to impose themselves on conflicts overseas, so to are they insistent on making them into movies from their own perspective. A film about Vietnamese, by Vietnamese, this is an imprint of war that's 30 years overdue, yet fresh off the scenic boat.