6.7/10
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The Pillow Book (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 6 June 1997 (USA)
Trailer
1:38 | Trailer

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A woman with a body writing fetish seeks to find a combined lover and calligrapher.

Director:

Peter Greenaway

Writers:

Sei Shonagon (book), Peter Greenaway
5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Release Date:

6 June 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Livro de Cabeceira See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,372,744

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,372,744
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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: Where is a book before it is born? Who are a book's parents? Does a book need two parents - a mother and a father? Can a book be born inside another book? Where is the parent book of books? How old does a book have to be before it can give birth?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Celebrity Naked Ambition (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Rose, Rose I Love You
Performed by Yao Lee
Courtesy of EMI SE Asia Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cinematic Art
14 October 1999 | by LVGrahamSee 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.


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