"Norwegian Wood" director Tran cuts through language barrier

Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:14am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Adapting a bestselling novel like "Norwegian Wood" for the cinema can be a tough task for any director, but try making the film in a language you can't speak.

That's the challenge Vietnamese-French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung faced in bringing the Haruki Murakami story of love and loss to the screen 23 years after the book enchanted millions of Japanese readers and raised the author's profile globally.

But Tran, who won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival for his 1995 film "Cyclo," said it was never an option to make Norwegian Wood outside Japan or in another language.

Tran first wrote the screenplay in French, had it translated into English and eventually Japanese, and relied on help from his producer in communicating with the actors.

"Murakami was very open and said I could adapt it in any language I wanted and in any place in the world," Tran told Reuters in an interview ahead of the film's December 11 release in Japan.

"But I said I wanted to film Japanese faces, because what attracted me in the novel is that it's Japanese," he said.

Murakami, however, was initially reluctant to allow the novel to be adapted to the big screen, and it took Tran and producer Shinji Ogawa four years to win the author's approval after a series of meetings and discussions about the script.

Norwegian Wood, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, is the first film adaptation of a major Murakami work, but Tran said he didn't feel any pressure despite high expectations from many of the author's fans.   Continued...

<p>Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung (R) speaks next to Japanese actresses Rinko Kikuchi (C) and Kiko Mizuhara during a news conference to promote their film "Norwegian Wood", a movie based on Japanese author Haruki Murakami's book, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo November 26, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>