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Why the film "Đào, phở và piano" became such a hit overnight

The sudden success of the film "Đào, phở và piano" has taken many by surprise as it caused the National Cinema Center to keep increasing screenings and saw audiences queuing up to buy tickets.

In recent days, the film "Đào, phở và piano" has sparked a frenzy, prompting the National Cinema Center to continuously increase screenings. The film became such a huge hit that many audiences could not buy tickets as the ticket booking system of the National Cinema Center crashed. Facing increasing demand to watch the film, the Cinema Department has proposed to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to rollout "Đào, phở và piano" nationwide.


This is a rare occurrence for a state-commissioned film in Vietnam. So what explains the overwhelming popularity and success of this film with audiences?

Beautiful emotions portrayed in every scene, excellent performances

When it comes to the success of a film, the most important factor is the content and "Đào, phở và piano" succeeded in this area. The film recreates the atmosphere of the 60 days and nights from late 1946 to early 1947 during the battle to defend Hanoi.

In those smoky days, the spirit and character of old Hanoi's people were vividly portrayed. This includes the passionate love between a self-defense soldier (played by Doan Quoc Dam) and a Hanoi aristocrat girl (played by Cao Thuy Linh), an old painter with his dream of painting a masterpiece, and a couple running a pho stall striving to make the perfect bowl of pho in difficult circumstances.


"Đào, phở và piano" has a well-written storyline and plenty of emotions. It also features a cast of characters representing different social classes in Hanoi at the time - an old painter with his lifelong dream, a pho selling couple always hoping someone enjoys their food, a Western-educated mandarin who loves dough figurines or a street shoe shiner boy.

Notable actors include veteran actors Trung Hieu and Tran Luc alongside rising star Doan Quoc Dam, who impressed audiences with his natural acting skills. New faces like Cao Thi Thuy Linh and pop singer Tuan Hung's appearances also sparked audience interest.

Careful investment and preparation are evident from the script, set design under the direction of artist Vu Viet Hung. Director Phi Tien Son has emphasized that the film has no conflicts or bad guys, with all characters portrayed in a positive light and exemplifying the "essence" of old Hanoians.

With its polished production values, "Đào, phở và piano" received praise from film experts when first released in September 2023. It won the Silver Lotus Award at the 23rd Vietnam Film Festival in Dalat last November.

A "different dish" amid Tet film season

The runaway success of "Đào, phở và piano" marks a turning point for the historical genre in Vietnam. As a state-commissioned non-commercial work with minimal promotion and no trailer, its popularity is all the more remarkable.

At a time when comedic blockbusters like Tran Thanh's "Mai" and Nhat Trung's "Reunion with Miss Baou" dominated the Tet season, the historically-themed "Đào, phở và piano" stood out like a "different dish".

Director Phi Tien Son has emphasized the film avoids conflicts and portrays all characters positively. The film has resonated strongly with audiences and presented a nuanced glimpse into the genteel yet resilient spirit of old Hanoi.

Its success also boosts hope for the historical genre, showing it can compete with mainstream entertainment if given a compelling, emotionally authentic story.


Massive boost from social media

"Đào, phở và piano" has been dubbed the "limited edition" version as a state-commissioned Tet film only screened at the National Cinema Center. It was scheduled for 1-2 shows daily until end-February 2024 with around 100 viewers per screening.

However, glowing reviews and short video clips on social media like TikTok went viral and stoked huge audience curiosity. With the rise of TikTok, snippets of the film spread at lightning speed. Frustrated fans complained sold-out screenings meant they couldn't watch the full film.

In today's digital age, it's unsurprising that brief clips trending on social networks like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram can significantly influence audience behavior. The National Cinema Center was forced to acknowledge screenings were fully booked up.

Thanks to this "nudge" from social media, "Đào, phở và piano" reached a wider audience. It gained notoriety as cinema-goers lined up hoping for tickets amid ongoing sellouts.

In response, the National Cinema Center announced the Vietnamese film program including "Đào, phở và piano", "Hong Ha Nui Si" and animation shorts will run continuously with increased screenings until 10 March 2024 (or longer if there is audience demand).

This is welcome news for fans wanting to catch the film. For now, the National Cinema Center is the only venue screening "Đào, phở và piano" with all profits going to the national budget. Some other cinemas may also start screening the film soon to meet surging interest.

Đào, phở và piano's roaring success marks an important turning point, proving films exploring Vietnam's history can still captivate new audiences if told compellingly. It also gives hope that the genre has a bright future ahead.

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