Based on Haruki Murakami’s novel, Norwegian Wood is a passionate love story set against 1960s Tokyo. Here, the Oscar-nominated (for The Scent of Green Papaya) Vietnamese director talks about the challenges of adapting a modern classic, 23 years after its publication.
How closely does the film script follow the book?
I read the book in 1994. I loved it. When you adapt a book you’re adapting not only the story but also all the feelings you had when reading it. So I stayed very faithful in spirit but betrayal is unavoidable because I have to go from one art form to another.
What about the cast? Another great performance by Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi.
I was lucky to be able to work with very talented actors. They all delivered a great performance. Regarding Rinko, she told me a beautiful thing: ‘How come I feel more real when I cry during a scene than in life?’
The film was nominated for the Golden Lion award at Venice 2010. How does the international audience relate to this Japanese story?
Anyone can easily relate to it as it’s a universal story – about love and loss, about the sorrow of losing someone you love, about the necessity to make up with life after the mourning.