Vloggers with a new twist on classical literature

February 09, 2020 - 08:35

Their first clip, inspired by Old Man Hạc, received more than 8.3 million views after just two months, causing '1977 Vlog' to become a viral search keyword on the internet.


1977 Vlog was formed by twins Nguyễn Trung Anh and Nguyễn Việt Anh, 28, and their 19-year-old cousin, Nguyễn Văn Tân (centre). Photo tin123.net

By Phương Hà

Classic Vietnamese literary works like Vợ Chồng A Phủ (A Phủ and His Wife), Chí Phèo, Lão Hạc (Old Man Hạc) and Tắt Đèn (Turning Off Light) have been given a breath of fresh air thanks to the sensational YouTube videos created by a team of content creators called '1977 Vlog'.

Their first clip, inspired by Old Man Hạc, received more than 8.3 million views after just two months, causing 1977 Vlog to become a viral search keyword on the internet.

The positive response from YouTube viewers inspired the production team to come up with next clips: Hồi Ký Của Một Dân Chơi – Chí Phèo (A Playboy’s Memoirs – Chí Phèo); Vợ Chồng A Phủ Parody – Vòng Xoáy Của Bạc (A Phủ and His Wife Parody – the Swirl of Money); and Chị Dậu Parody – Kỷ Nguyên Hắc Ám (Mrs Dậu Parody – The Dark Age), all of which have also received millions of views.

Barely two months after their first video, 1977 Vlog was given a YouTube Golden Button, an award granted to vloggers reaching 1 million subscribers.

Their latest clip, Vợ Nhặt – Kẻ Đi Tìm Tương Lai (Picked Wife – The Future Hunter), published on January 10, has gathered more than 8.5 million views.

1977 Vlog was formed by twins Nguyễn Trung Anh and Nguyễn Việt Anh, 28, and their 19-year-old cousin, Nguyễn Văn Tân, with the name chosen at random.

They self-taught all their video production skills, from writing scripts to setting up, filming and dubbing and everything is filmed on an old tablet, with candles used for lighting.

The total expense to produce a clip, surprisingly, is barely VNĐ200,000 (US$8.6), which is spent on props and costumes. The background is set at a deserted house, or sometimes at the altar hall of their family.

Explaining why they focus on Vietnamese works written in 1930-1945 by Nam Cao, Ngô Tất Tố or Tô Hoài, one member said they find inspiration from the classics.

“We see our selves and modern society in the literary works in this period. We used to be obsessed with the meaningless life of the teacher Thứ, the main character in Nam Cao’s fiction, Sống Mòn (Corroded Life). We used to have the same feeling, aspiring to contribute to society but we still had to follow the established path and that’s how our lives have passed by,” Việt Anh says.

“At times I looked up to the sky, wondering what we were doing. I think that many young people have also fallen into such situations. The biggest love for the motherland is being honest to our selves – I have read and much enjoyed the saying by the Italians. I expect myself and others to be honest with our dreams and aspiration, which is also a way to love life and our motherland,” he adds.


OLDIES BUT GOODIES: 1977 Vlog's clips are inspired by Vietnamese classical literary works written in 1930-1945 by renowned writers like Nam Cao and Ngô Tất Tố. Screenshot photo

All the stories told in 1977 Vlog’s clips are in black and white at slow speed.

“My friends opposed the idea of making black and white films because HD or 4K films are more popular.

“That does not bother us. We think that what is more important is to transfer good messages to the public. In Vietnamese classical literary works, the characters frequently have standstill lives but we want to change that perception, seeking better futures. If we try to fight, our future will be brighter. If we dare to take action, we will obtain happiness. Despite contradictions, challenges and tensions, everyone has their own opportunities to change their life – that is the message we want to convey via our clips,” Anh continues.

In each clip that lasts around six minutes, 1977 Vlog combines the storyline of classical literary works with contemporary hot issues like hired debt collecting or Wall Street finances.

“From the material of modern life, we have associations with similar stories in literary works to make up the correlation and harmony,” Anh says.

Despite their rapid fame on the internet, 1977 Vlog have said they don't feel any pressure to create more for their fans.

“The only pressure for us is whether the films are truly interesting or not,” Anh explains, noting that one six-minute clip might take months to finish.

None of the team has attended a professional acting course and before vlogging, Trung Anh and Việt Anh worked in offices and experienced many failures in life. They applied for Movies and Theatre University but failed the entrance exam.

“The feeling of failure made us fear, but as soon as our hurts healed, we continued to do what we like,” Việt Anh says.

They said the money from making the clips on YouTube and advertisement is enough to pursue their passion, but they don't intend to stop making wholesome content to seek riches.

Many terms taken from 1977 Vlog’s clips have become popular among Vietnamese youths, inspiring their interest in Vietnamese literature.

“After watching their clips, I’m interested in reading other Vietnamese novels as well and have even watched classical films like Làng Vũ Đại Ngày Ấy (Vũ Đại Village in the Past) or Cánh Đồng Hoang (Wild Field),” says Trần Minh Nguyệt, a 7th grader from Nguyễn Du Secondary School.

“I’m looking forward to their next episodes,” she says. VNS