6.7/10
11,155
96 user 52 critic

The Pillow Book (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 6 June 1997 (USA)
A woman with a body writing fetish seeks to find a combined lover and calligrapher.

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Writers:

(book), | 1 more credit »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ken Ogata ...
The Father
Hideko Yoshida ...
...
Judy Ongg ...
The Mother
Ken Mitsuishi ...
Yutaka Honda ...
Hoki
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 ...
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:

Things that make the heart beat faster. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | |

Release Date:

6 June 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Livro de Cabeceira  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$105,922, 8 June 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,293,037, 17 August 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The keeping of pillow books to record poems, secrets, and encounters with lovers was a common practice of noble women in Heian Japan. Although its content is unrelated to the film, a famous example was written by Sei Shonagon at about the same time as Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji which has the honor of being the world's first novel. In fact, it has been said that Sei Shonogon and Lady Murasaki were rivals in the court of Heian. See more »

Goofs

Mike visible during wide shot when Nagiko kneels and Jerome signs his name on her back. 01:03:59 into the film on PAL DVDs. See more »

Quotes

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

Referenced in Celebrity Naked Ambition (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Invocations of Gompo
Performed by Buddhist Lamas & Monks of the Four Great Orders
Courtesy of Lyrichord Disks New York
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User Reviews

 
Strange, Surreal, Sensual and Intoxicating! A great film!
10 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

"Pillowbook" maybe one of Peter Greenaway's most amazing films next to "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover". If you want to see Ewan McGregor completely naked for extended periods of time, now's your chance. I'd probably walk around nude too, if I was as well endowed as him! The "Pillowbook" concerns the character Nagiko, played by the sexy Vivian Wu. (She made me say Woooh!) Growing up Nagiko has fond memories of her father who was an author. He would paint calligraphy on her face. She also enjoyed the pillow-book that her aunt had read to her with it's sensual stories. One memory that troubles her was her father being blackmailed for sexual favors by a gay publisher. He did this to get his stories published. All grown up Nagiko develops a fetish to be written on with ink. She goes through many men, but has no luck. She also has the desire to create her own pillow-book of lists and obsessions. Then she meets Jerome (Ewan Mcgregor) an English translator, it's a strange love at first sight. The only problem is that he has sloppy handwriting. So Jerome offer's himself to be written on like the pages of the book. Little does she know that Jerome is bisexual and having relations with the same publisher that had blackmailed her father growing up. When she realizes this she uses Jerome to seduce the publisher with his written body. She wants to get her book published. Nagiko narrates the film saying, "If I couldn't seduce the publisher, I could at least seduce the publisher's lover." Talk about twisted! As the film moves along it becomes more strange and surreal, with frame within frame of words and images. The screen breaks down into boxes and into lists at points. It's easy to get confused during your first viewing, like Greenaway's other films. "The Pillowbook" is not your typical erotic film, it's also a story of betrayal and vengeance. One things for sure, Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor have such great sexual chemistry together. This creates a hypnotic and beautiful effect on the viewer.


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