Japanese Epic Made into a Movie Once More

February 9, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. fantastical (adj.)
 [fan-tas-tik] – describes something that is very incredible and amazing that it seems unrealistic
Example: The movie was about the fantastical adventures of a boy looking for a magic kingdom.

2. enchanting (adj.) [en-chan-ting] – charming or delightful
Example: The model’s enchanting smile entertains the audience.

3. weave (v.) [weev] – to combine different or complex elements to make something
Example: Some song writers weave old poems into pop songs.

4. court (n.) [kohrt] – the place where a high-ranking leader (such as a king or queen) lives; a palace
Example: The king’s court is furnished with expensive items from all over the world.

5. garb (v.) [gahrb] – to wear clothing
Example: The weather was so cold that the people had to garb themselves in several layers of clothing.

Read the text below.

The 2011 film adaptation of the Japanese epic Genji Monogatari brings to life the story’s fantastical world. It also shows an interpretation of what might have inspired author Murasaki Shikibu to write it.

Directed by veteran TV director Yasuo Tsuruhashi, Genji Monogatari: Sennen no Nazo (The Tale of Genji: A Thousand-Year Mystery) is the latest movie based on the 1000-year-old novel.  With a script by Izumi Kawasaki, the film weaves together the lives of Murasaki and her character, Genji, through back-and-forth narration.

In the movie, Murasaki, a lady-in-waiting, is ordered by Lord Fujiwara to write a romantic story for his daughter Shoshi. Fujiwara hopes that such a story could inspire Shoshi to become an appealing wife for the Emperor. Murasaki then writes a fictional tale about a man named Genji, the charming and handsome second son of Emperor Kiritsubo of the Heian Period (794-1185). Having grown up without love due to his mother's early death, Genji tries to look for it in the arms of several court ladies.

Later on, after developing admiration for the author’s work, Fujiwara takes interest in Murasaki herself. However, Murasaki's passion has grown to be only for Genji.

Apart from featuring romantic plots, the film entertains visually. With the help of photographer Osamu Fujiishi and art director Tsutomu Imamura, the film's production goes far beyond a regular TV costume drama. The interior and exterior designs of the court make it seem like an earthly paradise. The people who live there look equally enchanting, garbed in beautiful costumes that make them appear as though they float rather than walk.

While some movie-goers find the novel’s language a little strange in spoken dialogue, the film’s interesting story and pleasing visuals still allow audiences to appreciate the author and her wondrous tale.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

      Which do you find more interesting: novels or movies? Please explain your answer.
      Do you think some literary stories are better left as written stories than turned into movies? Why or why not?

Discussion B

      Do you think age-old stories such as Genji Monogatari should be preserved? Please explain your answer.
      Which do you like better: fictional stories or historical stories? Why?


February 9, 2012