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The Pillow Book (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 6 June 1997 (USA)
1:40 | Trailer

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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 »



(book), | 1 more credit »
5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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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 ...
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 ...


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) »


Things that make the heart beat faster. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | |

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)


$2,293,037 (USA) (15 August 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ewan McGregor was uncomfortable about his parents watching the film, as he spends much of it being in the nude. His father took it well, and after seeing the film, responded to his son, via fax: "I'm glad you inherited one of my greatest attributes." See more »


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 »


Nagiko: I need writing. Don't ask why. Just take out your pen and write on my arm.
See more »


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


Chicken Bandit-The-Blistered-Corn
Performed by Lam Man Chun and eric Tsang
Courtesy of New Melody Publishing/Bird and Child Ltd
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User Reviews

Cinematic Art
14 October 1999 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Anything by Greenaway is bound to be cinematic Art, but this effort is particularly brilliant.

It has full-frontal nudity, male and female -- not presented necessarily in sexual context, but you might want to pick your audience carefully. The nudity and homosexuality in the film are handled offhandedly and without prejudice, thus removing any hint of perversion or pornography. I know that sounds odd, but believe me, I'm a very conservative individual/artist.

But that's not The Film -- the plot is intriguing, the Art is breathtaking, and the calligraphy, ahhhhhhh, is astoundingly beautiful, especially when transcribed on human form. The vessel and the content are one -- how sublime of author and director.

My criticism? Sometimes Greenaway seems to think that we can simultaneously process all five lanes of the highway that run in his head. I, for one, am willing to watch his films twice. (Well, maybe not "The Falls").

Greenaway offers food for my soul -- I kiss both his eyes.

38 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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