Films Inspired by Nguyen Trai to be Shown in 30 Nations

It is anticipated that a movie about the wrongful conviction of Nguyen Trai will be released by the end of 2024.

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Director Luong Dinh Dung is set to release the film “Anh Hung” (Hero), which tells the story of Nguyen Trai (1380-1442) and the tragic case of Le Chi Vien (Lychee Garden) that resulted in the execution of three generations of Nguyen Trai’s family in 1442.

According to Dung, the motion picture production based on Le Ngoc Minh’s screenplay is set to be completed by 2024 and will be distributed in 30 countries.

Nguyen Trai, born in Thang Long (now Hanoi), came from a family of influential dignitaries. He played a crucial role in Le Loi’s rebellion, leading to the successful expulsion of the Chinese Ming invaders from Vietnam. This significant event marked the end of the second Chinese domination in the country. Following the victory, Le Loi was enthroned as King Le Thai To (1385-1433), and Nguyen Trai assumed the role of mandarin at the court.

 Director Luong Dinh Dung works on the scene. Photo courtesy of the director

Nguyen Trai had a stunning and vibrant concubine, Nguyen Thi Lo, whose exceptional intellect was well-known. It was rumored that she had a romantic involvement with the young King Le Thai Tong (1423-1442).

While visiting Nguyen Trai’s estate, Lychee Garden, the Emperor suddenly fell gravely ill and tragically passed away.

The nobles at the court lay the blame on Nguyen Thi Lo for the tragic demise of the young emperor. They unjustly accused her of committing regicide and proceeded to execute her through beheading, alongside a large number of her relatives.

Later on, Le Thai Tong’s third son, King Le Thanh Tong (1442-1497), granted a formal pardon to Nguyen Trai, stating that he was entirely innocent of Le Thai Tong’s demise.

For his immense contributions to Vietnamese literature and profound philosophical thoughts, Nguyen Trai is revered as one of the 14 exemplary heroes of Vietnam. This distinguished list includes iconic figures like the Hung King and Tran Hung Dao. In recognition of his brilliance, UNESCO has bestowed upon Nguyen Trai the prestigious title of “World Cultural Celebrity”. Additionally, he is also renowned as the author of the remarkable piece of literature called Binh Ngo Dai Cao (Great Proclamation on the Pacification of the Wu).

The Lychee Garden Case is widely regarded as one of the most significant cases of improprieties in Vietnamese history. This infamous case revolves around the mysterious death of King Le Thai Tong, leaving behind a plethora of unanswered questions. The enigmatic nature of this tragedy has captivated the hearts and minds of people throughout Vietnam, inspiring countless movies, books, and plays that attempt to shed light on the events that transpired in this heartbreaking case.

Luong Dinh Dung’s film takes place in the year 1464, during the reign of King Le Thanh Tong. At this time, King Le Thanh Tong is 23 years old and is faced with a difficult decision. He must correct a past mistake and save his only son, Nguyen Anh Vu, before it’s too late. If he doesn’t act quickly, Vu will be executed the following day, and the entire Nguyen Trai family will be wiped out. It’s a race against time as the king tries to right his wrongs and protect his family’s future.

Nguyen Trai and King Le Loi. Photo courtesy of Thanh Hoa Provincial Museum

According to director Le Dinh Dung, the movie boasts thrilling action scenes and effectively re-enacts the unjust verdict against Nguyen Trai’s family, captivating audiences from start to finish.

“It is not just any ordinary entertainment film; it also aims to bring history back to life by depicting the lives of kings, politicians, and poet Nguyen Trai,” Dung explained.

He also mentioned his plans to create films featuring other prominent historical figures such as Ly Thuong Kiet and Hai Ba Trung. His intention is to provide the younger generation with an accurate understanding and in-depth knowledge of their country’s history.

“We are immensely proud of our country’s rich and illustrious history, highlighting the deep-rooted tradition of nation-building and protecting our nation. Our primary objective is to discover innovative ways to present history in a contemporary, captivating, and easily understandable manner. Cinema serves as a powerful tool in accomplishing this noble goal,” expressed Dung passionately.

This year, Luong Dinh Dung has been selected as a distinguished jury member for the esteemed 19th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). Demonstrating his expertise and reputation in the film industry, he has also been sought after as a consultant for the prestigious Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival, which ranks among the top 15 largest international film festivals worldwide.

He has directed many critically acclaimed films that have been screened both abroad and at prestigious international film festivals. Some of his notable works include “Father and Son” and “578 Magnum.”