(From left to right) Rinko Kikuchi and Ken’ichi Matsuyama
Based on Haruki Murakami’s famous novel, Norwegian Wood is a Japanese film that tells the story of a university student who has to pick between his past and his future.
- Japanese title: Norwegian Wood,ノルウェイの森, Noruwei no mori
- Director: Tran Anh Hung
- Cast: Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara, Tetsuji Tamayama
- Language: Japanese
- Genre: Drama, Romance, Coming of Age
- Release date: 11 December 2010
- Running Time: 133 minutes
- Box Office: US$17.6 million
Did You Know…
- Norwegian Wood is based on the novel of the same name by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
- The title of the film is based on The Beatles song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).
- The book was very popular among Japanese youth.
- ‘Mori’ in the Japanese means “forest wood”.
- Haruki Murakami’s first job was at a record store like the main character Toru Watanabe.
- The film won Best Cinematography at the Asian Film Awards in March 2011.
… and lastly, my thoughts…
Haruki Murakami’s is known by any around the world. The critically acclaimed contemporary Japanese writer, known for his first fisrt-peroson narrative, his books have been bestsellers in Japan and internationally.
One of his books, Norwegian Wood, has been adapted into a film in 2010 and was directed by Tran Anh Hung, in 2010. But did the movie do justice for the book?
Norwegian Wood is a Japanese nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. Set during the late 1960s, it’s tell the story of Toru Watanabe a university student and his relationship with beautiful Naoko. They are both heartbroken by the death of their male best friend, Kizuki. Kizuki and Naoko used to date but after his death, she went into deep depression.
A few months later, on Naoko’s 20th birthday, Watanabe and Naoko end up sleeping together. Shortly afterwards, Naoko abandons watnabee and leaves for a sanitarium in a remote forest.
Still in love with Naoko, Watanabe meets Midori, a girl who is completely opposite to Naoko and starts to develop feelings for her. Now he has to choose between the past and the future.
During the first part of the film, we see Watanabee as a normal university student, playing around, sleeping with girls but during the second part of the film, Watanabe confronts the egoism of his playboy friend Nagasawa and realized that he also has to take responsibility of his actions and feelings. It’s more like a wakeup call to becoming an adult.
Norwegian Wood’ Is Depressingly Beautiful. The cinematographer and the director capture the character’s emotional journey beautifully. They focus more on the story’s eroticism and the characters’ loneliness.
They capture the grief, the coming of age love, the loss and the music composition plays so well with the emotions and actions of the characters.
We a see the beautiful vision of modern Tokyo, the breathtaking nature and the culture of japan in the city and countryside.
But you know when you read the book first and then watch the movie, you think, no this didn’t happen or no the book had more descriptions….
Murakami’s novels and short stories are often known to be “unfilmable,” because the way he writes is extraordinary, no one can be able to adapt it, yet portray it on the big screen.
Norwegian Wood is a youthful and visually exquisite film and the images are genuinely breathtaking. It’s brave to attempt bring the novel to the big screen, but if I had a choice to watch it again, to be honest I wouldn’t. I would just stick to the book.
Note: All above images are screenshots of the original movie.