Hải Ninh’s The Little Girl of Hà Nội (1974) captures the traumatic war causalities caused by the US B-52 bombing campaign in December 1972 through the memories of a child witness figure. While the US media typically portrayed Vietnamese children as helpless victims, and mainstream North Vietnamese media portrayed them as heroes, the film presents its child protagonist as both a victim and care agent within her community’s care network. The essay shows that Little Girl foregrounds the caring capability of a wounded community by using care as a structural force and a central aesthetic. I argue that Little Girl produces an aesthetics of care, including visual and sonic motifs to inscribe the tender tone that underscores the images of the damaged city. In this way, the film shows that care has the potential to reframe the narrative of war while avoiding the dominant frozen trope of traumatic memories.
Cinema of Care: The Child Figure, the Collective, and War in The Little Girl of Hà Nội
Qui-Ha Hoang Nguyen is a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University, MacMillan Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Her research has been published in books and journals such as Film Stardom in Southeast Asia (Edinburgh University Press, 2022), Southeast Asia on Screen (Amsterdam University Press, 2020), and Southeast of Now Journal (Singapore National University Press, 2019). Nguyen’s current book project, Figuring Women in Vietnamese Revolutionary Cinema (1945–1975): Representation, Affect, and Agency, examines women’s lived experiences, emotions, and agency on and off-screen in wartime Việt Nam, which offers an alternative narrative about women’s subjectivity in the film industry and history of warfare.
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Qui-Ha Hoang Nguyen; Cinema of Care: The Child Figure, the Collective, and War in The Little Girl of Hà Nội. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2023; 9 (1): 33–51. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2023.9.1.33
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