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 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 08:56 GMT
Vietnam welcomes The Quiet American
Michael Caine and Do Thi Hai Yen
Michael Caine plays a cynical British journalist
The Quiet American, a film based on Graham Greene's novel about a CIA's agent intervention in 1950s Vietnam, has had its Hanoi premiere.

Brendan Fraser
Fraser met fans at the Hanoi premiere
It is the first major Hollywood film to be shot in Vietnam, and was praised as "progressive" by a senior cultural official.

It was only released in the US this November, after more than a year's delay following the 11 September attacks on America.

The producers were concerned that a film about US interference in foreign countries and a bombing atrocity would be badly received so soon after the attacks on America.

Australian director Phillip Noyce and British star Michael Caine appealed to production company Miramax Studios to release the film in time for it to be considered for next spring's Oscars.

Blood on hands

Caine plays the jaded British journalist Thomas Fowler, who shares a Vietnamese mistress, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), with an American CIA agent Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser).

The Quiet American
This was the first Hollywood shot wholly in Vietnam
In the declining days of French colonial rule, Pyle channels weapons to anti-communists, leading the bombing of a crowded market, causing death and mayhem.

Pyle claims he never meant it to be like that - that he never meant to kill civilians.

But Fowler argues it is impossible to get involved in that kind of action without getting blood on your hands sooner or later.

Red carpet

Vietnam has welcomed The Quiet American as an accurate portrayal of early US involvement in Indochina.

Phillip Noyce
Noyce had to pressurise Miramax to get the film release
"You don't see that in other movies. Director Phillip Noyce has been very respectful of our history and our people," said Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat of the country's Cinema Department.

Noyce and Fraser attended Tuesday's Hanoi premiere.

On Wednesday, the film will open in Ho Chi Minh City and it will be shown all over the country from next week.

Two other recent Hollywood movies about Vietnam - We Were Soldiers and Green Dragon - have had a far less favourable reception.

Vietnamese actor Don Duong has been called a "national traitor" for appearing in the films, which the government believes distort the country's history.

Industry in infancy

There are hopes that The Quiet American may open the way for more international film production in Vietnam.

Brendan Fraser and Do Thi Hai Yen
Brendan Fraser plays a CIA agent with his Vietnamese mistress, Phuong
Pre-production manager Chanh Tran told the BBC's World Today programme that at present Vietnam lacked the facilities of other regional countries.

"Everything has to be started from the beginning," he said.

"We almost have nothing at the moment, we have the quality of manpower - that's it!"

But he said that facilities should improve in the future.

"Very soon we can catch up with our neighbours - Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines - who have everything they need to produce this kind of film.

"I hope that very soon in the future we'll be able to handle any kind of production from foreign countries," Chanh Tran said.

  The BBC's Clare Arthurs
"Given the communist control in Vietnam the launch of a Hollywood film is about much more than entertainment"
  The BBC's Stephen Cviic
"Hollywood's view of Vietnam has rarely pleased the country's rulers"
See also:

08 Nov 02 | Entertainment
11 Nov 02 | Entertainment
16 Dec 02 | Entertainment
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