Friday 15 May 2015

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the end of the World War II, and 2014 also witnessed the 20-year celebration of influential British artist and film maker Derek Jarman’s passing. On this occasion, British Council Vietnam proudly presents ‘War Requiem’ within the framework of European Film Festival 2015.  

The film’s dialogue-free collage of images emphasise the atrocities of war, and include through WWI newsreel footage, images of the Cambodian conflict and the bombing of Hiroshima. Benjamin Britten composed his ‘War Requiem’ for the opening of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1963, after the original was destroyed in the Second World War in 1940, and Jarman’s film grew out of his traumatic memory of a military hospital, where as a child he spent a few days, alongside damaged victims of WWII. The film moves between past and present, and it is structured as the reminiscences of an ‘old solider’, played by Laurence Olivier – first artistic director of the UK’s National Theatre - in his last film role. The cast also includes Nathaniel Parker (Merlin), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings).  The film’s narrative is complex, with spatial and temporal jumps and flashbacks-within-flashbacks, and the actors’ performances are more symbolic than naturalistic. 

This adaptation of Benjamin Britten's musical piece of the same name was not meant to be a pro-British piece or a glorification of British soldiers, but a public statement of Britten’s anti-war convictions. It was a denunciation of the wickedness of war, not of other men. The fact that Britten wrote the piece for three specific soloists - a German baritone (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), a Russian soprano (Galina Vishnevskaya), and a British tenor (Peter Pears) - demonstrated that he had more than the losses of his own country in mind, and symbolized the importance of reconciliation. The piece was also meant to be a warning to future generations of the senselessness of taking up arms against fellow men.

Screening schedule of War Requiem

  • Hanoi: 21 May (8.00 p.m.) and 23 May (10.00 a.m.) at National Cinema Centre, 87 Lang Ha.
  • Danang: 25 May (07.30 p.m.) at Le Do Cinema, 46 Tran Phu.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: 27 May (6.00 p.m.) and 28 May (8.00 p.m.) at Cinebox, 212 Ly Chinh Thang, District 3.

Tickets are free of charge and will be distributed from 9.30 a.m., 12 May 2015 at British Council, 20 Thuy Khue, Hanoi and at British Council, 25 Le Duan, District 1, HCMC

The trailer can be found at

Notes to Editor

Pham Minh Hong (Ms.)
Arts Manager
British Council Vietnam
20 Thuy Khue, Ha Noi
T +84 (0)4 3728 1920 ext 1924
F +84 (0)4 38434962

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