Time in the Jungle


GDR/Vietnam, 1987, 95 min, color
In German; no subtitles
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company
Themes & Genres:


Armin is one of 20,000 former German soldiers in Vietnam with the French Foreign Legion between 1946 and 1954, when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu. Set in 1949-50, the film follows Armin after he decides to desert and, aided by members of the Vietnamese resistance, flees to the liberated zone. There, he helps run a printing press and hears about a newly-established, socialist Germany. Joined by a further group of deserters, the situation deteriorates...


Time in the Jungle is the first and only coproduction between the East German DEFA Studio for Feature Films and the Hanoi Studio for Feature Films in Vietnam. Shot in Vietnam, it features a wide range of local settings and people. Lush landscape shots punctuate the plot development, which hints at complex dynamics within the liberation movement, despite its recourse to some predictable tropes—in particular, in representing solidarity, gender and resistance. How these representations are handled reveals an interesting, if not always successful mixture of the visions of the Vietnamese and German directors.


2017   FOCUS, Cottbus Film Festival


Press comments

"The film is based on real life stories." —Film Museum Potsdam


“Dramatic, sad and tragic. Actors Hans-Uwe Bauer, Bui Bai Binh and Khan Huven ensure good entertainment. The empathy of directors Jörg Foth and Tran Vu is truly impressive.” —berlinien.de


"If you go for drama and the war film genre, you will like this film!" —kriegsfilm.org


Dschungelzeit reflects on the history of two nation-states’ experience of war, initiating an intercultural dialogue about the limits of international solidarity. Despite both directors’ motivations to make a film out of solidarity, the process of their collaboration drew attention to what those limitations were, and they also found their way into the film narrative: misguided idealism steeped in the asymmetrical power relations embedded in the ideology of solidarity; the enduring mutual distrust on each side; and the ongoing cultural misunderstandings that became evident in the limits of interpersonal relationships and language. […] Dschungelzeit’s transnational soul-searching finds its purpose here after all, even if the film never found the audiences to appreciate it.”  —Evan Torner and Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, "Imposed Dialogues," in Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World


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