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Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010

Director set his sights on Murakami's style

Kyodo News

Tran Anh Hung tried his best to capture the essence of novelist Haruki Murakami's 1987 global best-seller in the movie version of "Norwegian Wood," including the timeless nature of first love, the French director said last week in Tokyo.

"It's a story of first love that you lose almost immediately when you have it," Tran said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "It's a universal experience . . . and this is how I wanted to put it forward and promote it."

The Vietnamese-born director also said he focused on reflecting Murakami's writing style in his film, which opens Dec. 11.

"You read it as if you have a real intimacy with the story, and I wanted to put that on the screen," he said.

Tran, known for his film "The Scent of Green Papaya" and "Cyclo," consulted with Murakami for four years until he won the contract in 2008.

Tran said he overcame the language barrier to make the film in Japanese by working closely with his Japanese producer and staff and to ensure that the production precisely fit the framework of the novel.

"Norwegian Wood" is set in Tokyo in the 1960s and is narrated by the story's protagonist, Toru Watanabe, who reminisces about his relationships with two very different women, Naoko and Midori.

Actress Rinko Kikuchi, who plays Naoko, the girlfriend of Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), said she was enthusiastic about her role.

"I really wanted the part," said Kikuchi, who is known overseas for her Oscar-nominated role in the Hollywood production "Babel."

Texas-born fashion model Kiko Mizuhara, making her film debut as Midori, said she was "very nervous to be part of the big production."

In the novel, the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood," heard aboard a plane, reminds Watanabe of his past.

The film, featuring the Beatles number as its theme song, was nominated for the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion award in September.

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