October 21, 2018

Garlands at the foot of the mountain (movie)

In 1979, China and Vietnam fought a brief border war. One reason for China’s aggression was Vietnam’s toppling of the China supported Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. These days, this particular war is not mentioned much in China. But in the early 1980s, there were some books and movies that depicted this war. I will recommend the movie 高山下的花环 (Garlands at the Foot of the Mountain).

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

What I find interesting in this movie is that they never show the Vietnamese soldiers. The story is told from the point of view of a group of Chinese soldiers who are sent to the border to clear the Vietnamese invaders”.

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

The fact that China had previously aided Vietnam in the war against the U.S. is highlighted a few times in the movie.

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

There is one part where the soldiers are shocked to find Chinese supplied weapons and rice in a Vietnamese pill box that they had just cleared. There are some Vietnamese lettering on the wall that read a decisive war”. A little later in the movie, the Chinese soldiers have run out of water and they decide that it is fair game to cut some sugarcane from the surrounding plantation. A short clip from the movie is embedded below. Turn down the volume on your phone/computer as the clip starts with a loud refrain.

The whole movie with subtitles is on YouTube. You can search for it Via the Chinese title 高山下的花环.

Further reading on how this war prompted the modernisation of the Chinese army: A round table review of a book on this particular war


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