Set in Vietnam during the 1930s, 'Indochine' documents the conflicts of colonial rule by focusing on the story of Eliane Devries (Catherine Deneuve), a French woman who owns a large rubber plantation, and Camille (Linh Dan Pham), the orphaned Vietnamese princess she has adopted as her daughter. Their problems begin with the arrival of Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez), a handsome young naval officer who, after a brief affair with Eliane, becomes the object of Camille's undying affection. Eliane arranges to have Jean-Baptiste transferred, but still, even after marrying someone else, Camille cannot forget about her one true love. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 1992.
Winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 1992, Indochine is a vast, panoramic love story set in the twilight years of French Indo-China. Comparisons with David Lean are inevitable, considering director Régis Wargnier's use of the setting as a backdrop to the love-triangle between the three main characters. Catherine Deneuve gives a strong, emotionally restrained performance as Eliane, the plantation owner whose colonial paradise is slowly falling apart. Vincent Perez is magnetic yet thoughtful as the young officer Jean-Baptiste, complemented by Jean Yanne's dry cynicism as the Chief of Police knowingly fighting a losing battle for French culture. Linh Dan Pham is affecting as Camille, Eliane's adopted daughter whose journey from aristocratic ancestry to Marxist induction personifies the changing face of South-East Asia in the period around World War Two. Patrick Doyle's score reinforces the expressive sweep of the direction and "orientalisms!" are kept to a minimum.
On the DVD The 16:9 wide-screen format reproduces best in the domestic scenes, and there are 30 individual chapter points, detailed in the interactive moving menu. The disc also has detailed filmographies for the main cast and director, including an entertaining "gossip" file for Deneuve. English subtitles are optional. A half-hour location report would have been worthwhile, but overall this is a persuasive presentation of one of the few genuine historical-romantic epics of the 1990s. --Richard Whitehouse