Director Luong Dinh Dung will release the movie Anh Hung (Hero) about Nguyen Trai (1380-1442) and the unjust case of Le Chi Vien (Lychee Garden), which led to 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 will be completed by 2024 and distributed in 30 countries.
Nguyen Trai was born in Thang Long (now Hanoi) into a family of influential dignitaries. Nguyen Trai joined Le Loi's rebellion and successfully drove the Chinese Ming invaders out of Vietnam, ending the second Chinese domination of the country. Le Loi was then crowned King Le Thai To (1385-1433), and Nguyen Trai served as mandarin of the court.
|Director Luong Dinh Dung works on the scene. Photo courtesy of the director
Nguyen Trai had an extremely beautiful and youthful concubine of exceptional intellect, Nguyen Thi Lo, who was believed to have had an affair with the young King Le Thai Tong (1423-1442).
While visiting Nguyen Trai's estate, Lychee Garden, the Emperor suddenly fell ill and died.
The nobles at the court blamed Nguyen Thi Lo for the young emperor's death. They accused her of regicide and had her beheaded along with most of her extended family.
Later, Le Thai Tong's third son, King Le Thanh Tong (1442-1497), officially pardoned Nguyen Trai on the grounds that he was completely innocent of Le Thai Tong's death.
For his contribution to Vietnamese literature and thought, Nguyen Trai is considered one of the 14 typical heroes of the Vietnamese nation, a list that includes luminaries such as Hung King and Tran Hung Dao. Nguyen Trai has been honored by UNESCO as a "World Cultural Celebrity". He is also the author of Binh Ngo Dai Cao (Great Proclamation on the Pacification of the Wu).
The Lychee Garden Case is one of the great cases of improprieties in Vietnamese history. It left a lot of unanswered questions about the death of King Le Thai Tong. It's the heartbreaking case in Vietnamese that has served as the inspiration for many movies, books, and plays.
The context of Luong Dinh Dung's film is set in 1464, when King Le Thanh Tong was 23 years old. He had only one night to mend the wrong done to Nguyen Trai and save his only son, Nguyen Anh Vu. Otherwise, Vu would be beheaded the next day and the Nguyen Trai clan would be extinct.
|Nguyen Trai and King Le Loi. Photo courtesy of Thanh Hoa Provincial Museum
According to director Le Dinh Dung, the movie has thrilling action scenes and re-enacts the unjust verdict against Nguyen Trai's family.
"It is not an ordinary entertainment film, but it also has the ambition to revive history by portraying kings, politicians and poet Nguyen Trai," Dung said.
He added that he would like to make movies about other historical figures such as Ly Thuong Kiet, Hai Ba Trung, among others, so that the younger generation has a correct view and deep knowledge of national history.
"We are always proud of the country's heroic history, the tradition of building and defending the country. Our mission is to find ways to tell history in a more modern, interesting, and accessible way. Cinema is one of today's modern means to realize this aspiration," Dung said.
This year, Luong Dinh Dung has been appointed to the jury of the 19th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). He's also a consultant for the Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival, one of the 15 largest international film festivals in the world.
He has directed many films that have been screened abroad and at international film festivals, such as Father and Son, 578 Magnum.