March 2011

Norwegian Wood

Perhaps the most anticipated release this March is the screen adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s coming-of-age cult classic, Norwegian Wood. Set in the late 1960s, a time of turbulent unrest and political uprising, the film follows Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), the protagonist and narrator, who looks back on his days as a freshman university student living in Tokyo. The novel is a dedication and personal confession of loss and sexuality and the film promises to transfer Murakami’s sensual prose to the screen. The title refers to The Beatles song, ‘Norwegian Wood’, which Toru recalls hearing, in a Proustian Madeline moment, and is transported back to his youth.

Critics have spoken of Murakami’s ‘unadaptability’ for the screen, but if there is one area that the film will excel in, it is its music. In the novel characters continually share meaningful moments through listening or playing music, as a reader we can imagine this and connect to the characters, but we missing a vital sense: sound.

Directed by Anh Hung, winner of a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1995 for Cyclo. It stars Kenichi Matsuyama, who won acclaim for his role in Death Note, and Rinko Kikuchi, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Babel.

Released on the 11th of March, we suggest that you sip on Sake and then watch Hung’s beautifully slow-paced and lingering translation of Murakami’s melancholic story.

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