Noruwei no mori
Tran Anh Hung / Japan / 2010 / 133 min / Japanese with English subtitles / color / 35mmTweet
Official selection, 2010 Venice Film Festival
Contains some sexual content
The most beloved novel by Haruki Murakami, if not the most internationally-beloved contemporary Asian novel of all, Norwegian Wood has received a big-screen adaptation by none other than Venice-winning, Oscar-nominated director Tran Anh Hung (Scent of Green Papaya, Vertical Ray of the Sun). As with any adaptation, the result has been debated, celebrated, and dissected – the only consensus being that NORWEGIAN WOOD is a shimmering work of beauty, diving into chromatic depths never suggested by the book, while remaining true to Murakami’s exploration of sexual awakening at its most beguiling.
Tran has stripped the sprawling, time-hopping novel to its narrative basics, focusing on the three leads: Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), dazed and confused, who teeters quietly toward adulthood; Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi of Babel), dazed and paralyzed, who wants nothing more than to relive her 18th year forever; and Midori (Kiko Mizuhara), dazed and effervescent, whose ever-present smile hides deep scars of abandonment.
Their story of doomed, haunted almost-lovers is brought to life in renowned cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-bing’s glorious images, in which characters glow in rapturous light and shadow as fleeting as innocence itself. More enchanting than the dialogue and the voiceover are the sounds of infatuation: winds through the woods, the hyperventilating gasps of crying in a lover’s arms, and Radiohead composer Jonny Greenwood’s 21st century spin on the 60s sound that gives the novel its title. As dark, mysterious, and alive as the Beatles’ song, NORWEGIAN WOOD brings the cyclone of awakening to swirling heights. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, San Diego Yu Yu, UCSD Japanese Student Assocaition
- Director: Tran Anh Hung
- Cinematographer: Mark Lee Ping-bing
- Writer: Tran Anh Hung
- Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara