A film based on the bestselling 1987 Japanese novel by Haruki Murakami. As he tries to cope with a tragedy in his past, young college student Toru Watatnabe begins forming relationships with two very different women.
Nothing can heal the loss of a beloved. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can heal that sorrow. All we can do is live through the sorrow and learn something from it. But whatever we learn will be of no help in facing the next sorrow to come along.
Norwegian Wood was first released in Japan in 1987, and became hugely popular with the youth at that time. Murakami, who until then was relatively unknown, was catapulted to stardom. Since then the novel has found a following outside of Japan, having been translated into many different languages. The title of the book refers to The Beatles' song of the same name, which is mentioned several times throughout the story.
While riding a plane to Germany, Toru Watanabe hears an acoustic cover of The Beatles song Norwegian Wood, which sends him into a bittersweet reverie of his days as a young college student in 1960's Tokyo. Somewhat of a loner, Toru's best friend Kizuki had committed suicide when he was in High School, leaving Toru to cope with the aftershocks of his death. As a result, he has made a habit of viewing the world at arms length, never getting too invested in anything. One day he has a chance meeting with Kizuki's old girlfriend, the reserved and deeply troubled Naoko. At the same time, he also meets the lively and outgoing Midori. Not a conventional love story, the plot deals with Toru's developing relationships with these two girls as well as his attempt to cope with life in the wake of tragedy.
Director Tran Anh Hung had been a fan of the novel since reading the French translation over 15 years ago, but Murakami was reluctant to authorize a film version. Murakami finally gave his permission after reading a script written by Hung. The film was shot in various locations around Japan, including the Tonomine Highlands, the Mineyama Highlands, and Kasumi Coast. The film features the original Beatles version of the song Norwegian Wood. The score was composed and performed by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame. Since Tran Anh Hung doesn't speak Japanese, his script had to go through multiple translations. His original screenplay was written in French, which was then translated into English, and finally, Japanese.