6.7/10
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The Pillow Book (1996)

Not Rated | | Drama | 6 June 1997 (USA)
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1:40 | 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:

Things that make the heart beat faster. 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

Opening Weekend USA:

$105,922, 8 June 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,293,037, 17 August 1997
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

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

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: If writings did not exist, what terrible depressions we should suffer.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Peter Greenaway in Indianapolis (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Teki Wa Ikuman
Performed by Ichjiro Wakahar
Courtesy of King Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An erotic masterpiece.
18 October 1999 | by raymond-15See all my reviews

"The Pillow Book" is an erotic masterpiece. A story that unravels like a Japanese scroll. It teases and excites us with floating images. It's Greenaway's masterful technique, the same that he used so successfully in "Prospero's Books". He captures our attention and plays with our emotions. I don't understand one character in Japanese calligraphy but the idea of writing a poem or a prayer or a story on human skin is certainly an original one. Calligraphy is always charming to look at as the camera wanders about the human anatomy. Even the Lord's prayer in English takes on a very personal meaning when it scrawls across the chest and arms and ends up somewhere below the navel. The story itself is simple enough. Its about two people -a Japanese girl and a Westerner - falling in love. There's nothing new in that. But it's the progression of their romance through their calligraphic foreplay that binds our attention. It's beautifully and delicately portrayed - somewhat dream-like in its presentation. There's a suicide scene which one might expect would draw this romantic drama to a close, but no! the story gathers pace and races on to unexpected heights. Based on observations made by Sei Shonagon in the 10th century, the Pillow Book is a collection of 13 essays entitled "Book of Youth", "Book of the Seducer". "Book of Secrets", "Book of the Dead" etc. But essentially this is about "The Book of the Lover". Some audience will cringe with horror when they see how this book is prepared. Ewan McGregor and Vivian Wu are to be congratulated on their exceptional performances( and backed by a competent cast} in a most original and memorable production.


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