A dark night. Snow is falling. A little girl lies in bed, dwarfed by its size.
“Where does snow come from?” she asks her Grandma.
“Well dear,” rasps Grandma, settling herself into an armchair. “I suppose it all begins with bread.”
“Bread. And an inventor, who made a man who was incomplete and alone.”
“Did the man have a name?” asked the little girl.
“Yes dear.” Grandma looked out the window at the falling snow. “His name was Breadward.”
Act 1, Scene 1
Aerial shot: a city street, all the houses are painted yellow, street vendors are dotted here and there.
A woman wearing a conical hat, Phuong, is selling things door-to-door. She drives through the wrought iron gates of an old mansion, gets out of her car and walks through an area of immense, doughy sculptures — dragons, centipedes and angels among them.
“Oh my!” she exclaims. “How beautiful!”
Phuong enters the house. Rays of sunlight that slice into the deep shadows reveal machinery and vast ovens. The floor is covered with a thick layer of flour. She senses a movement.
“Hello? Is anybody there?”
She climbs the staircase and enters the top level of the building. It’s unfurnished except for a bed, and the roof has fallen in in places. She sees a figure crouched in the corner. There’s a dull, rubbing sound.
“Why are you hiding over there?”
The figure stands, moves towards her. Phuong gasps as he moves into the light. He’s pale and bedraggled, and his face is decorated with lines of orange and brown stuff. His hands, outstretched, are made of ten slim banh my que.
“Oh my! What happened to you?”
Breadward waggles his fingers and says, “I’m not finished.”
“Oh you poor thing!” exclaims Phuong. “You’re coming home with me.”
Act 1, Scene 2
Phuong gives Breadward her daughter’s bedroom. He sees a photo of the girl – blond, beautiful.
“That’s Quynh,” says Phuong.
Breadward smiles, touches the picture with a finger, leaves a scrap of dried onion behind.
Phuong’s husband, Bich, and their son, Tuan Anh, return home. Over dinner, Breadward struggles with the food, turns all into bread. Eventually he eats a few of his fingers, smiling anxiously at the family. He offers them a taste.
“Delicious! So warm! And the mixture of pate, chilli, dried onion and coriander is just divine!”
His fingers grow back before their eyes, as they always have.
Act 1, Scene 3
The next day, Bich is relaxing in the garden. Breadward runs his fingers over the hedge, trailing sprigs of coriander through the leaves, and then…
“Oh Breadward!” says Phuong as she emerges from the house. “You made croutons!”
… whrrr… shame on you for buying a cheap DVD… it’s broken down… you miss Scene 4… whrrr…
Act 1, Scene 5
The family have a barbecue. Breadward proves to be a hit, turning all manner of things into pastries.
In the evening, when all the guests have left, Breadward stands alone in the garden. He walks over to a fan and reaches into the moving blades. Inside the house, Quynh sees flakes of white land against the window. She goes outside and, arms raised above her head, dances smiling in the snow-like spray of crumbs.
…s-k-k—k… the screen goes black… download next time why don’t you?
In the darkness the townsfolk have turned against Breadward, Quynh has fallen in love with him (which has angered her boyfriend, Dung), he’s had a run-in with the law, and more bread has accidentally been made (and otherwise)… whrrr…
Act 2, Scene 5
In his mansion, Breadward stands with Quynh, illuminated by moonlight.
“Hold me,” she says.
Quynh gently places his arms around her and kisses him, whispers, “I love you. Goodbye.”
Dung emerges swaying from the shadows. “I knew it!” he shrieks.
He runs at Breadward and they collide. In the struggle, Breadward transforms Dung into a huge doughnut.
The doughnut rolls out of a broken window and hits the ground several floors below. Jam pumps forlornly out of its flesh.
The townsfolk arrive, grumbling. Quynh runs down to meet them, snatching up a handful of banh my que. She shows them these and says, “He’s dead. They killed each other. Go home all of you.”
“So that,” says Grandma, “is the story of snow.”
“Is he still alive?” asks the little girl.
“I think so.”
“How do you know?”
“Well,” Grandma pauses, looks at the white flakes landing on the window pane. “It never snowed here before Breadward came, but now, every year, it does.”
Thanks to Andrew Riley for starring as Breadward in the photo. If you’d like to read the full version, untroubled by a skipping DVD, please visit phillipturo.tumblr.com Banh My Que cost VND4,000. Phillip ate at the corner of Phuong Mai and Luong Dinh Cua, but these places are cropping up everywhere.