6.7/10
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96 user 53 critic

The Pillow Book (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 6 June 1997 (USA)
As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko's father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from "The Pillow Book", the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(book), | 1 more credit »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Yoshi Oida ...
Ken Ogata ...
The Father
Hideko Yoshida ...
The Aunt / The Maid
...
Judy Ongg ...
The Mother
Ken Mitsuishi ...
The Husband
Yutaka Honda ...
Hoki
Barbara Lott ...
Jerome's Mother
Miwako Kawai ...
Young Nagiko
...
Jerome's sister (as Lynne Frances Wachendorfer)
Chizuru Ohnishi ...
Young Nagiko
Shiho Takamatsu ...
Young Nagiko
Aki Ishimaru ...
Young Nagiko
Hisashi Hidaka ...
Calligrapher
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Storyline

As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko's father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from "The Pillow Book", the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, obsessed with books, papers, and writing on bodies, and her sexual odyssey (and the creation of her own Pillow Book) is a "parfait mélange" of classical Japanese, modern Chinese, and Western film images. Written by Michael C. Berch <mcb@postmodern.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

book | paper | paint | chinese | japan | See All (254) »

Taglines:

From the creator of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover comes a sensuous tale of passion, obsession and revenge. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | |

Release Date:

6 June 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Livro de Cabeceira  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$105,922 (USA) (6 June 1997)

Gross:

$2,293,037 (USA) (15 August 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

Nagiko says early on that her mother taught her Mandarin. Later, she says that she went to Hong Kong to improve the Chinese her mother taught her. However, the majority of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. See more »

Quotes

Nagiko: Farewells can be both beautiful and despicable. Saying farewell to one who is loved is very complicated. Why should a person be obligated to stand such sweet pain and such bitter pleasure?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Peter Greenaway in Indianapolis (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Taimu-Mashin no nai Jidai
Performed by Cawai Miwako
Courtesy of Fun house Publihsers, Inc
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Words Made Flesh
5 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Pillow Book is a rare film that transcends limitations of film and text in a unique handling by auteur Peter Greenaway. Based loosely on the tenth century writings of the imperial court observer, Sei Shonagon, Greenaway brings to the screen a rich visual amalgam that relies on stunning settings, the physical beauty of actors Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor, and the joy of ancient and modern systems of writing that are the calligraphic arts.

Greenaway's penchant for incorporating art, numbers, books, and architecture in a filmic medium ensure those who enjoy his style will not be disappointed. As a young child, Wu's character has celebrated her birthday's by having her father write the story of creation on her face in a family ritual celebration. However, with adulthood and marriage, her spouse is neither interested nor willing to continue her tradition. Frustrated at her inability to find a lover who is a good calligrapher, or a calligrapher who is a good lover, Wu finally meets a bi-sexual translator, Jerome (McGregor) who offers himself to Wu as a living surface for her erotic creativity. Inspired by the opportunity to obtain revenge on the publisher who blackmailed her father and is Jerome's lover, Wu's character, Nagiko creates the ultimate love poem illuminated in red, gold and black characters and delivered to the publisher on the naked body of Jerome.

The Pillow Book is adult eroticism at it's most sensuous and visual best. It is a story that revels in the binaries of the profane and grotesque, yet delights the eye with Greenaway's ability to translate a vision of love and horror into a singular statement of lush physical beauty and passionate sexuality.


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