Sunday, April 17, 2011

Norwegian Woods

Norwegian Wood is a 1987 novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami - it has been remade into a movie via Vietnamese Director Tran Anh Hung.

This movie captures the emotions of two young people with a shared tragedy who faces the struggles of loss, sexual desires and love. The destructive nature of love, the unceasing reminders of loss and pain, and the decision between loyalty and love.

Set at the end of the 1960s, it is the story of university student Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) and his relationship with the beautiful Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). Both of them are bonded with their mutual loss where they were struggling to deal with the suicide of Kizuki, a close male friend to Toru and a boyfriend to Naoko.

The movie sets its tone in the beginning where the recollections happen as the song by the beatles, Norwegian Woods - plays.

Where the lyrics summarizes the struggles.
I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me...
She showed me her room, isn't it good, norwegian wood?
She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair.
I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said, "It's time for bed"
She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn't and crawled off to sleep in the bath
And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, norwegian wood.

Toru lives with an empty meaning towards life, while Naoko feels as if some integral part of her has been permanently lost. Naoko struggles to cope with her grief, becoming increasingly unstable, all the while growing closer to Toru. They eventually sleep together, but Naoko immediately drops out of college and checks into a sanitarium. Toru remains in contact as best he can, even venturing out to the countryside to visit Naoko on occasion, but back in Tokyo he begins to fall for his bubbly, outgoing - and seemingly far more normal - classmate, Midori (Mizuhara Kiko).

Torn between his unresolved feelings towards Naoko, ( his first love, I think) and his growing fondness for Midori , what would be Toru's decision?

I like the cinematography of the film - where it helps sets the mood and the atmosphere for the scene ; the dialogues between the characters - where it also gives me time to question the reason of the conversation ; the music ( guitar) that suits the events thats about to happen.

Some of the dialogues as I remember from the movie:
Eg. Birthdays are so dumb. You become twenty. When you are still not ready for it. Its is as if there is someone pushing you from the back.

Eg. I used to think what would happen if I suddenly lost my parents.But now that it happened, I feel nothing.

Eg. What is true love? True love is when I want a tart with strawberries and he drops everything, run, and gets the tart for me. And when he returns with the tart, I say I don't want it anymore. He throws the tart out of the window. This is what I call true love. I want that person to say to me, I get it , I'm sorry - I am going to bring something else. Do you want anything?

Eg. I feel the warmth of your love and I am very very happy. If I have somehow wronged you, its not only your pain but it lives in me too.

Eg. The dead will never come alive, afterall. We have to somehow, keep living.

Eg. if you really love her can't you wait? Its probably true. Its like a game. No one lies. No one is insulted.I'm insulted. Why am I never enough for you.

Eg. Love- its impossible to explain things like that. They just happen and there's nothing you can do.

And some of the scenes which I like:
I like how the initial conversations were held in the semi-dark scene with rain pouring outside. Its always with the rain where people feel an additional tinge of sorrow and sadness - and where you tend to think more about life during rainy days.

I like the time to time touches and hugs - where you understand the thin line between friendship and lovers. And how touches is a notion of familiarity where it develops a relationship.

I like the scene where both of the characters were pacing to and fro in the meadow of grass - it evokes a sense of frustration in not understanding why things were like that - but yet as you begin talking about it , analyzing it, - it makes it all better.

After this movie, I am planning to read the book !

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