The Japan premiere of the film version of Haruki Murakami’s famous novel, "Norwegian Wood," was held at the author’s alma mater at Waseda University this week. Stars Kenichi Matsuyama, 25, Rinko Kikuchi, 29, and other cast members joined Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung on the red carpet.
Matsuyama, who plays main character, Toru Watanabe, said of the film, “I can’t express how fantastic this piece is. I really do believe it is perfect.” Kikuchi, who plays the female lead, said, “The time from when I auditioned for the role until today seemed to go by in a flash.”
The director chimed in, “When I imagined [Kikuchi’s character] Naoko, Rinko didn’t really come to mind.” Kikuchi apparently sent the director a video letter to help her win the part. “I’m the type to actively go out and get what I want, rather than waiting to see if it will come,” she confided.
The film, like Marukami’s book, is set in Tokyo in the late 1960s. The character of Watanabe is a young university student struggling to choose between two women, one the girlfriend of his best friend who committed suicide, and the other self-confident and independent, representing the future.
The novel has won worldwide popularity, and many directors had approached the author to adapt it to film. More than 10 million copies of the book have been sold in Japan alone, with 2.6 million more sold in another 33 languages.
Tran said he didn’t know why he was chosen, but producer Shinji Ogawa said Murakami wanted an Asian director to project the region’s aesthetic.
Tran said the story about new love easily transcends borders. "It’s about the pain you feel when you are in the process of love. Love is growing and suddenly something stops it. It happens twice to Watanabe,” he said.
Viewers may be surprised that the Beatles classic from which the book takes its name makes little more than a cameo in the film. “It’s only that the song is too soft, too cute, too sentimental. What happens with the characters is really stronger than that song,” Tran said. “I put the song at the end of the movie because it works like the beginning of the book.”
"Norwegian Wood" opens nationwide on Dec 11.© Compiled from wire reports