The Communist representative tells Long and his fellow prisoners that only through re-education can the prisoners find freedom and peace. This indoctrination is ironic because the men are certainly not free as they sit in squalor under lock and key.
Told in Vietnamese with English subtitles, “Journey” is careful and intelligent story-telling. Remarkably without any hint of pretense, this film is about a man, his wife, their son, and their collective struggle to come together again in a place where they can be a family. “Journey” is heart wrenching and exacting in its coverage of events that may not be familiar to American audiences.
The actors and environment are captured in a gritty style on 35mm. The grime and dirt of the re-education camp is painstakingly on display. At times, I wondered whether the sets were actual prisons utilized after the war.
Long Nguyen is terrific as the character that bears his name. He is surrounded by a wonderful cast of Vietnamese actors who inhabit their tough roles. Everyone is filthy throughout much of this movie as they do what it takes to survive. I imagine that even acting under the recreated conditions would have to be difficult.
The irony of the concept of re-education camps as a road to freedom touched me in “Journey From The Fall.” This is introduced early in the film when a Communist reeducation leader is shown parading in front of men caged for no other reason than their opposition to the repressive (and evil) government. When the leader tries to convince them that their freedom depends on changing their minds and their belief system, you shudder. “Journey From The Fall” convinced me that one can only truly be free by challenging those who unfairly oppress. Freedom comes at a price.
Jonathan W. Hickman