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Schoendoerffer films war without artifice and delivers a gripping rendition of the battle which leaves you troubled and uneasy. The "documentary" aspect of the whole thing, spread via a not-very-efficient-voice-over might not be the best choice though.
Dommage qu'on ne voit pas plus la bataille du cÃ´tÃ© Vietminh / Pity that the battle is not shown more on the Vietminh side of it.
Definitely not an entertaining war movie, rather a Symphony of Life and Death... The sacrifice of young men, jumping for a last and certain defeat, just to stand and fall next to their comrades is certainly moving. An American reporter scours Hanoi, "civilised" background to the battle, in search of a scoop. He rubs shoulders with a Chinese bookie, a cyclo-pousse driver, a Vietnamese nationalist who give their views to the battle. Pierre Schoendoerffer jumped on Dien Bien Phu as a reporter, and survived. He shot this film in Viet Nam, 37 years after the end of the battle.
I can't really give a fair assesment of this movie because the copy of the movie I saw was translated in German so understand little german I couldn't understand what was being said. But I could tell what was going on just by the film alone. Donald Pleasence stars as a journalist trying to get the story behind the French battling the Vietnamese in Indo-China Long before America got involved, and he does very well. This is not an action movie so don't watch it expecting to see endless blood and guts like you'd see in "300" or "Saving Private Ryan". The films battle scenes are limited to artillery bursts on hills and occasional air strikes. Watching this movie, one can experience Georges Delerue's score which is built mainly around a Concerto D'Adieu which he composed for the film. The camera work is fantastic and covers the film's action very well. I only hope this movie is released in America in the near future.