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Red-haired Xuan becomes television star

Update: December, 10/2012 - 10:31


Social climber: Red-haired Xuan is played by actor Viet Bac. — Photo
HA NOI (VNS)— Late writer Vu Trong Phung's works have been made into a television series expected to be aired in Viet Nam next year.

The series centres on So Do (Dumb Luck), a major work by Phung, one of the nation's greatest 20th century writers.

Directed by Pham Nhue Giang, the script for the series, named Tro Doi (Game of Life), was compiled from three works written by Phung in 1934-36.

So Do first published in Ha Noi in 1936, follows the absurd and unexpected rise within colonial society of a street-smart vagabond named Red-haired Xuan.

The novel charts Xuan's fantastic social ascent and provides a panoramic view of colonial social order.

The transformation of traditional Vietnamese class and gender relations triggered by the growth of colonial capitalism is a major theme.

The Tro Doi will appeal to a wide audience with its clever plot, richly drawn characters and humorous tone and its pre-occupation with sex, fashion and capitalism.

It was tough work to find an actor to play Red-haired Xuan.

"From the filthy sidewalks of life, Red-haired Xuan suddenly becomes a member of the upper class thanks to the westernisation of Ha Noi lower middle class in the 1930-45 period. This character is a challenge for the actor," said Giang.

Xuan is played by young actor Tran Viet Bac, a graduate from the Ha Noi Cinema and Theatre College.

The script was written by developing writer Le Anh Thuy and edited by Trinh Thanh Nha. It has a sexual flavour, according to director Giang who had to control the scenes strictly because the series will be nationally aired.

Actress Minh Hang was invited to play the role of Mrs Pho Doan, a hussy married to a foreigner. At first she wanted to refuse because she thought it was too sexy.

The series has a diversified background around Ha Noi, Hai Phong City and northern provinces of Nam Dinh and Bac Ninh.

About 200 costumes designed by artist Thanh Ha adhere closely to the fashions of the day.

The 30-episode series will be screened on Viet Nam Television next October.

The Tro Doi is the first produced under a project to promote the best Vietnamese literature from 1930-45. The project, run by the Viet Nam Cinematography Association and the Viet Nam Television Film Studio, aims to honour Vietnamese social realism.

"Vu Trong Phung helped develop a realistic orientation for Vietnamese literature. He died at 27, but the material in his major works Dumb Luck, The Storm and To Be a Whore, are still valuable," said director Nguyen Huu Phan.

Born in 1912 in Hao Village in Hung Yen Province, Phung grew up in Ha Noi. He started his literary career very early, with his debut novel Dut Tinh (Breaking Up) in 1934.

Just two years later, he produced a series of novels focusing on social issues. They won much critical acclaim. He was also named as the Northern King of Reportage for his many famous media reports.

He died of tuberculosis in 1939, leaving a remarkable body of work, including nine novels, seven reports, two plays, and several dozen short stories, notes, essays and translations.

A set of postage stamps to mark the 100th birthday of the writer (1912-2012) was recently issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The stamp features the portrait of Phung on the left side and the covers of his literary masterpieces on the right, The Storm, To be a Whore, Dyke Breaching and Dumb Luck. — VNS

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