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Video clip synopsis – Four generations of Professor Huong’s family share a meal. The professor is concerned that his son, Tuan, will not follow his profession in classical music.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 3min 58sec
Tags - Asia, belonging, culture, family, Screen Asia, Vietnam Symphony, Vietnam War, war, see all tags


Life in modern Hanoi

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About the Video Clip


This clip focuses on Professor Huong’s son, Tuan. We initially see and hear him playing in a Hanoi jazz club and then we see four generations of his family sharing a meal. The professor is concerned that Tuan will not follow his profession in classical music for Tuan is not only a jazz player, but also a TV game show host. The father and son, as well as the father’s wartime orchestra peers, become closer when a documentary project draws out the professor’s war story. Tuan’s Australian wife, Lisa, is the go between.

This digital resource is from the project Screen Asia, a joint production of the Asia Education Foundation, Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Screen Australia Digital Learning. Click here for more digital resources for Asia.

Life in modern Hanoi is an excerpt from the documentary Vietnam Symphony, produced in 2005. Vietnam Symphony, is a Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Stonebridge Productions. Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission. Produced in association with the NSW Film and Television Office and SBS Independent.

Curriculum Focus


In the middle years of schooling, students can synthesise, analyse, reflect on and apply their learning to personal experiences of Asia in an increasingly independent way. They engage in cultural exchange, reflecting their enhanced understanding of their own culture, and their richer and broader framework of knowledge and understanding of Asian cultures. The aim is that students will increasingly empathise with people from different cultural backgrounds, and develop intercultural values and skills to participate in, learn from, contribute to and engage confidently in diverse cultural environments at home and abroad.

Asia Scope and Sequence: English, SOSE, The Arts

Australian Curriculum: English, History, Arts

All state and territory syllabuses for English, SOSE and Arts

Background Information


Vietnam Symphony – an underground symphony family is an excerpt from the documentary Vietnam Symphony, produced in 2005.

In 1965, as the Vietnam War intensified and Hanoi faced the threat of massive US bombing, students and teachers from the National Conservatory of Music were forced to flee the city for the relative safety of a small village in the countryside. With the help of villagers, they built an entire campus underground, creating a maze of hidden tunnels, connecting an auditorium and classrooms. Here, the war raged around them, they lived, studied and played music for five years.

The documentary interviews members of the orchestra in contemporary Hanoi, and follows their preparation for a return to the village and a reunion concert. It presents stories of danger and resilience, as well as the story of a changed Vietnam. These talented musicians and composers are now among the country’s cultural leaders, but they are finding it difficult to accept the next generation’s attitude to their ‘cultural treasure’ of classical musicianship.

Vietnam Symphony is written and directed by Tom Zubrycki.

This digital resource will assist students to understand Asia, to develop informed attitudes and values, to know about contemporary and traditional Asia, and to connect Australia and Vietnam (National Statement for Engaging Students with the Studies of Asia)

Classroom Activities


For further background preparation, students should create a ‘Fact File’ rubric of three columns. (You will find a model on page 50 in In our Own Backyard: Connecting to Global Issues in Our Region, edited by Bronwyn Collie, published by Curriculum Corporation, 2006.) Label your three columns ‘Feature of Comparison’, ‘Vietnam’ and ‘Australia’. To complete the boxes, research information for the following ‘features of comparison’ for both countries: Geographic area, Population, Government, Capital population, Dominant language, Other main languages, Main ethnic groups, Religions, Average income per day/year, Average life expectancy, National literacy rate, Major exports including any to Vietnam/Australia, Major imports including any from Vietnam/Australia, Cultural exchanges with Australia/Vietnam.

Activity 1: Ask students to discuss and respond to the following questions:

  1. Although the professor and his son, Tuan, are close in their family life, what is the Professor anxious about? What do they disagree about according to Tuan?
  2. What image does the professor use to describe his classical music skills?
  3. Describe the tone of the professor’s voice when he explains his anxiety for the future.
  4. How many generations are present for the meal? Describe the meal, the furniture, the decor.

Activity 2: Individually, in pairs, or in a group, students are asked to write their responses to the following:

  1. What is different about Tuan’s TV game show performance and his interest in jazz, compared to his studies at the Hanoi Music Conservatory? What might be the appeal of jazz for Tuan?
  2. It is said that, in contrast to their parents, 21st century students will experience many occupations in their lifetime. Is it possible that Tuan will return to the vocation of his original studies? Why or why not?

Activity 3: Individually, in pairs or in a group, students are asked to research and write their responses to the following:

  1. Who is the catalyst for Tuan to find out more about his father’s wartime experience with the underground audience? Why might this be so?
  2. What is the effect on the audience of the two black and white photos of Tuan and his parents when he was a baby? Why do the photos provide a turning point in the documentary clip?
  3. As the orchestra members and Tuan set off by car for the village concert, what style of music does the director choose for the soundtrack? Why? What surreal and amusing images do they recall about practising their instruments during the war?
  4. What is the significance of the Buddha on the dashboard?
  5. On arrival, how do the orchestra members and their original village hosts receive each other? Give examples.

Further Resources


Vietnam Symphony Teachers Notes, Film Australia.

Costain, M, 2005, Buddhism, Taoism and Shintoism, P20–23, in The Really Big Beliefs Project, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.

Hamston, J & Murdoch, K, 2004, Australia Kaleidoscope, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne. (This book includes a chapter about a young Australian performer in the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, trained by Chinese acrobats.)

Hoepper, B, 2008, Vietnam Topic Book, SOSE Alive, Jacaranda

Kwok, J and McKnight L, 2002, Film Asia, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.

Vietnamese Music in Australia – A general survey by Le Tuan Hung

Ledger, S and Ledger, R, 1998, Snapshots of Asia: Vietnam, Curriculum Corporation Australia, Melbourne.

Lewis, R, 1997, Vietnam – Young People, Old Country. Secondary, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.

Wheeler, 2007, Lonely Planet, Vietnam Guide, Lonely Planet. 5th edition.