As part of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi celebrations, at least three films about King Ly Thai To, responsible for moving the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long, now known as Hanoi, will be screened.
Over the last thousand years, there have been many people and heroes who have contributed to the glory and the history of Hanoi. King Ly Thai To, however, is one of the first ones to spring to mind and is especially revered for making Hanoi the capital.
As the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi draws near, among the many events taking place to celebrate the event are three films telling his story.
To this day, there has only been one movie that has portrayed Ly Thai To, whose name was changed from Ly Cong Uan when he became emperor. Khat vong Thang Long (Thang Long’s aspiration) was financed by Ky Nguyen Sang Company and directed by Luu Trong Ninh.
Back in 2005, the national steering committee in charge of organizing events for the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi, chose a screenplay titled Thai to Ly Cong Uan (The great founder Ly Cong Uan) by Dinh Thien Phuc to be filmed using a budget provided by the government. It was considered that a film glorifying and portraying the hero should be made to honor the king who moved the capital from the ancient Hoa Lu citadel to Thang Long.
In 2007, Hanoi City assigned Vietnam Film Studio to produce the movie, which was later put on hold due to criticism from the local media saying the budget for the film (VND200 billion) was excessive, arguments between those in charge of making the film, and protests from historians disputing the sets used for filming.
While the movie Thai to Ly Cong Uan was yet to begin filming, another three films about the king, including a TV series Thai su Tran Thu Do (Great tutor Tran Thu Do) depicting the man who played an important role in establishing the Tran Dynasty and defeating the Mongol invasion three times, were already on their way to being finalized.
Ly Cong Uan – Duong toi thanh Thang Long (Ly Cong Uan – The road to Thang Long Citadel), featuring the life and reign of Ly Cong Uan, was the first TV series to finish filming.
The 12-episode series, co-produced by the Hanoi-based Truong Thanh Communication J.S.C and their partner from Hong Kong, sparked debate over whether it would be faithful recount of an essential part of Vietnamese history. Apart from the actors, including Miss Vietnam second runner up Thuy Van, the film production, including writing the script, was carried out by the Hong Kong partner. The director was Chinese and the film was shot on a location at Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang Province, China.
Meanwhile, TV serial Huyen su Thien Do (the story behind the move of the capital), filmed by World Star Company, stars model Bebe Pham and focuses on a different aspect of the king’s life.
“The film doesn’t focus on how the king moved the capital to Thang Long, but it aims to narrate the period leading up to when the emperor took the decision and the reason behind it. Ly Cong Uan, after visiting Dai La (Thang Long) many times during his time working for the Le Dynasty, envisioned moving the capital from a narrow piece of land in Hoa Lu to the flat, spacious area of Thang Long, Hanoi,” said Nguyen Manh Tuan, the film’s script writer.
Unlike Ly Cong Uan – the road to Thang Long citadel, the 70-episode series was made at the Hanoi-based Co Loa film studio using only Vietnamese talent, including Vietnamese directors Tat Binh and Pham Thanh Phong.
Together with Bebe Pham, actors Cong Dung, Trung Dung, Ha Xuyen will play the leading characters Ly Cong Uan, King Le Long Dinh and Empress Minh Dao.
The show is on a tight schedule to film the first 20 episodes.
It is said that Ly Cong Uan is fatherless. His mother, after visiting Tieu Son Pagoda in the now Bac Ninh Province, dreamt she had a relationship with a deity and then became pregnant with Ly Cong Uan. When the son was 3, the mother sent the child to monk Ly Khanh Van in Co Phap Pagoda. The child was adopted and named Ly Cong Uan.
According to history, Ly Cong Uan was born in 974 in Co Phap Village, Bac Ninh Province. He was an official of the Anterior Le Dynasty, which set up the capital in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh Province.
After King Le Long Dinh died, other officials and monks enthroned Ly Cong Uan when he was 35, displacing the descendant of the Anterior Le Dynasty. Ly Cong Uan changed his name to Ly Thai To.
Seeing that Hoa Lu was a tiny area surrounded by mountains, suitable for times of war but not conducive to peacetime development and growth, Ly Thai To chose to move the capital from this site to a broad area lying in the flat alluvial delta named Dai La, now Hanoi.
While traveling from the former capital to the area, he saw a Yellow Dragon ascending; so he changed the new land’s name from Dai La to Thang Long (literally Ascending Dragon).
Ly Thai To was an emperor of talent and virtue. People lived peacefully under his reign. He is the founder of Ly Dynasty, which ruled Vietnam for 216 years with nine emperors, and is one of the most glorious dynasties in the history of Vietnam.