Based on the ancient Japanese Tale of Genji. This film is set in 900AD and tells the story of a famous female writer of the time, Murasaki Shikibu. Her story begins from the death of her ... See full summary »
Based on the ancient Japanese Tale of Genji. This film is set in 900AD and tells the story of a famous female writer of the time, Murasaki Shikibu. Her story begins from the death of her husband, a Japanese noble, then moves on to her recruitment to train the Prince's young 'wives in waiting'. It is dotted throughout and actually composed mainly of one of the fictional stories she wrote, the tale of Genji. Genji is a rich playboy who falls in love and has a son to his stepmother. He falls in love often and has many wives whom are all completely subservient to him. Genji is played by a woman actress from the all-female Takarazuka theatre. The two interrelating stories are also interrupted occasionally by fantasimical musical clips from a past Japanese teen-idol, Seiko Matsuda. Written by
Bringing Genji Monogatari to the screen was never going to be easy.
How can you take a 1000 year old book, set in a world that is more outlandish to modern people than any alien civilisation depicted in a Sci-Fi movie, and make it interesting to a modern audience?
Of course, The Tale of Genji is full of sex which helps, and another way is to tone down the the differences between Heian Japan, and the modern world - No fashionably blackened teeth here, and interaction between the sexes instead of Court ladies being always hidden from male view and communicating through poetry. Murasaki Shikibu is even pictured riding in a carriage with 2 men!!! The real Murasaki (whoever she really was) would rather have died than do that. Oh, and having The Shining Prince played by a girl is an interesting twist. And strangely... it works! Even the occasional pop song seem to blend into this fantasy world without jarring too much.
It's not really The Tale of Genji, it's more of the tale of Murasaki writing The Tale of Genji, with excerpts from the book shown throughout depicting the life and many loves of The Shining Prince.
As one of the few films that try to portray pre-samurai Heian Japan, I found it interesting just for that. Sure it's not a Great film, but it's enjoyable enough. There are a few moments of humour, the costumes are beautiful, and so are most of the girls (and Genji).
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