Norwegian Wood is a novel written by Murakami Haruki. The novel was released in 1987 and made it’s author a superstar among Japanese youth. The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality, and also about the late 60’s Tokyo, student protests and college life. And the name of the novel is borrowed from the Beatles song.
I was thrilled when I first heard that the movie was made Tran Anh Hung. I have always been big fan of his films such as The Scent of Green Papaya and Vertical Ray of the Sun. I’ve felt that Tran Anh Hung is realizing the visual culture of his home country, the colors and tone, there’s something very genuine and true about it; I imagine that’s how life in Vietnam looks like.
In that sense Norwegian Wood felt oddly a bit like Vietnamese film for me, although the environment and the context was of course Japanese.
The movie was very precise to the novel and the director didn’t take many liberations. The ones he decided to take only made the film more whole.
I was a bit afraid the movie would be a hollow trunk like Jun Ichikawa’s movie version of Tony Takitani. And honestly, I’m happy that Ichikawa wasn’t directing. It is clear that Tran Anh Hung was perfect man for the job.
Clearly he has worked very hard to make everything as true to it’s location as possible. The research alone must have required significant effort.
I imagine the movie itself will split audience in half which is expected and natural. And those who have read the novel are likely to enjoy it more. Haruki Murakami is somehow all over the place in this film, there’s a lot of Beatles and the actress Reika Kirishima actually performs the song in the movie with her guitar. I was also delighted that Haruomi Hosono made appearance in the movie as the record shop owner.