I presume the rights have already been optioned or bought, but here’s an ideal source for a very strong, possibly very commercial and perhaps even award-calibre Ziyi Zhang movie that could be theoretically helmed by Ang Lee or Wong Kar Wai. It’s basically an emotional wartime diary, initially serialized in newspapers and recently published in book form, about a real-life North Vietnamese female doctor named Dang Thuy Tram who was killed at age 27 on a Vietnam battlefield in 1970. Seth Mydans‘s Herald Tribune article doesn’t mention the title (weird), but the diary has become a best-seller in Vietnam, and if the right people produced the movie version it would have a potential to be a major emotional journey for Americans also, partly because of the lingering guilt factor over Vietnam. With the right chops, it could become a critics’ darling, an art-house hit and perhaps even an Oscar contender. Mydans’ article describes it as a tale of “love, loneliness and death on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” [Tram], he reports, “was killed in an American assault after serving in a war zone clinic for more than three years. The combination of revolutionary fervor and the vulnerabilities and self-doubts of a too-sensitive young woman might be called ideology with a human face, reminding readers that it was people like them, trapped in a moment of history, who died on their behalf.” The journey of the diary itself, he writes, “has given it a special postwar symbolism for [the Vietnamese]. It was returned to [Tram's] family just last year by a former American soldier who recovered it” on the battlefield where she died. I don’t disagree with reader Daniel Zelter‘s view that “after Memoirs of a Geisha, Ziyi’s had enough of faking Asian roles different to her own background. But here’s a brilliant idea — why not have a Vietnamese girl play the part?” I mentioned Ziyi mainly because she resembles Dang Thuy Tram’s photograph (scroll down a bit…it’s there), and of course because she’d presumably sell more tickets than a Vietnamese actress would. That sounds coarse, doesn’t it?

7 thoughts on “

  1. Daniel Zelter on said:

    After Geisha, I think Ziyi’s had enough of faking Asian roles different to her own background. But here’s a brilliant idea. Why not have a Vietnamese girl play the part?

  2. I agree with the previous post. After Memoirs of a Geisha, hasn’t the lesson been learned about filtering Asian culture through the dopey Hollywood prism? And what’s with name-checking two of the “crossover” Asian filmmakers? (What, Zhang Yimou throwing the spellcheck out of whack?) I’d much rather see Tran Anh Hung take on this story and make it into an authentic Vietnamese film. I wonder if Wells even knows who that is.

  3. I don’t think Ziyi looks anything like the girl in the photo, particularly when you notice the mole on Tram’s face. (Or is that just an ink spot…?)

  4. Of course I know who Tran Anh Hung is! What do you think I am, dumb or something? She was the second runner-up on the just wrapped “American Idol” season, right? I’m kidding. She’s Jude Law’s band-new squeeze, putting in doubt his reported makeup with Sienna Miller.

  5. I don’t often agree with Zelter, but this is a no-brainer.
    Except for in the most blatant of “all Asians look alike to me” modes, Ziyi Zhang looks virtually nothing like Dang Thuy Tram.
    And because they’re Asian as well, Ang Lee or Wong Kar Wai would have a particular insight into this story?
    Come on!
    Being incidentally Pan-Asian is one thing, but going out of your way seems pointless, particularly for such a contemporary story.

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