Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pillow Book.


Favourite book. This is my task. In four hours I am meant to publish a post on my favourite book for the Blog O Sphere project. How... HOW does one choose ONE favourite book? I have sat down to write this post umpteen times, and failed miserably to write even one sentence, let alone paragraph. Not only that, but I have to follow it up with WHY it is my favourite! I mean, it is easy enough to go on about why you like a certain book, but explaining WHY that one is better than ALL the other books? Sheesh! Hmmm...

OK, so I am going to go with movie. Technically, that was an option, but I thought that since the reason I am doing this project is because it challenges me to write about things on a deadline and I don't just get to write about what is hurtling through my brain towards the keyboard automatically. It is harder than you think! For me, movie was easy... book was a challenge. But it is five thirty in the morning and it is getting lighter outside and I want to go back to sleep. Movie it is.

It goes without saying that my favourite movie is The Pillow Book, a 1996 film by UK director Peter Greenaway based around the ancient book of observations of Sei Shonagon. Vivian Wu takes us into the pillow book (diary) of Japanese model Nagiko; a view into the life of a woman literally obsessed with the written word which follows her childhood watching her father's tumultuous life as an aspiring writer. Her fetish is calligraphy, and she is determined to document all that makes the world more beautiful, tangible and most passionate.

What is most appealing to me is that the story is told as if Vivian's character, Nagiko, isn't even aware that she is a drama seeker but has the perspective of the naive girl who begins the pillow book as a child. She is simultaneously treading dark waters and exploring new, uncomfortable territory, but she is so wrapped up in being a princess that she is unaware that she is doing so. By the time the movie wraps, she has destroyed more than one life and never wavers from her quest of both revenge and discovery.

I find every aspect of the story worth watching and never tire of it. From the sets and design, to the layered screenshots, even how the scenes of Nagiko's husband setting her beloved library on fire evoke a protective fury in the viewer that keeps up with the love/hate relationship you develop with her character. Absolutely stunning visually, the addition of Scottish actor Ewan McGregor made this a multi-cultural piece before the cameras were even rolling. I think his talent comes out in off base films.

The Pillow Book is one of those pieces of art that says something about the viewer. If somebody brings it up in conversation, you immediately know something about them. How you relate to a story such as this one is revealing of more than your taste in movies. Your tolerances are challenged and if you can see through the drama to the beauty, it speaks to who you are. I cannot say it is perfection, but what is? Brilliant though, it is that. And it's about a book... so maybe that counts towards my original task too? LOL

(Sidebar: I crashed my computer this morning. Apparently downloading images from the movie is frowned upon because two of them did nasty things and Kaspersky couldn't handle it... sorry it's late.)

As this is a post supporting the Blog O Sphere project, an ongoing (and rather awesome) project to challenge and support bloggers, please take a mo to visit the other writers involved at the following links!

Andes Cruz:
Kathleen Krucoff:
Brad Severtson;
Beth Cyr:
stephanie clark:
Wendy Kelly:
Barbara Donovan:
Shaun Young:


mysticalmythicalmetalwork said...

Wow Andrea, this is fascinating. I will have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing, and I enjoyed your change of direction from book to movie too. Nice post!

~ Kathleen Krucoff

Mary Spencer said...

Looks really interesting. Especially the use of lighting. Would like to see the movie from an artistic artistic perspective as much as the plot.

Wendy Kelly said...

Okay, this is funny because my one of my favorite books is The Pillow Book and I had no idea there was a movie based on it.

I adore adore adore Sei Shonagon. I can't wait to find and watch this one.

I know we've had the Pillow Book conversation before, but I somehow didn't catch that there was a movie attached. That's what blogs are for, I guess....

Andes Cruz said...

fantastic! I have never heard of this movie, but I am definitely gonna look it up :)