Today we’re looking at four Spring Showcase films which are book adaptations: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, MAO’S LAST DANCER, VILLON’S WIFE & THE SUMMIT: A CHRONICLE OF STONES. Read more after the break about these four films and their origins as novels.
[img_assist|nid=277|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=157|height=240]First, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Original Swedish title: Män som hatar kvinnor – Men Who Hate Women) is the first book in a trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson. This series of crime/mystery novels were unpublished upon Larsson’s death of a heart attack in 2004, and are being translated into English by Reg Keeland. The third novel in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, has a United States release date of May 2010.
All three films from the trilogy of books have been completed, and they opened in Europe during 2009. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has a March 19th release date in the United States, but will not be opening here in Hawaii until sometime later, so our Spring Showcase will be the first opportunity to see the film in this state.
- New York Times Review – March 19th by Manohla Dargis
[img_assist|nid=278|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=153|height=240]MAO’S LAST DANCER is based upon the book of the same name, which is an autobiography of Li Cunxin. Li was born into poverty in Qingdao China (also known as Tsingtao, located in Shandong Province), but was selected when he was 11 years old by a representative of Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. After seven years of harsh training, he graduated as one of China’s best ballet dancers. He was one of the first cultural exchange students under Mao’s regime, training at Ben Stevenson’s Houston Ballet. He started a relationship with an American dancer, which caused an international incident which ended with Li’s defection from China. Li’s autobiography was published in Australia in 2003, and this film was created in 2009.
Also of note is the lead actress in MAO’S LAST DANCER, Amanda Schull, who grew up in Hawaii and danced with the San Francisco Ballet. You might have also seen her in the TV series One Tree Hill or Bones.
[img_assist|nid=279|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=165|height=240]Osamu Dazai’s 1947 novel Viyon no Tsuma (ヴィヨンの妻) is the inspiration for the film VILLON’S WIFE, directed by Kichitaro Negishi. Negishi is recently known for his 2005 film What The Snow Brings (雪に願うこと, Yuki ni Negau Koto), which won 5 awards at the 2005 Tokyo International Film Festival. Starring experienced actors Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asano, this story is about the wife of a novelist who sticks by his side even through debt, alcoholism and affairs with other women.
The title Villon’s Wife refers to the 15th century French writer François Villon, considered one of the best poets of his time, but who also had a dark side, being known as a thief and a scoundrel.
[img_assist|nid=280|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=175|height=240]Last, but not least THE SUMMIT: A CHRONICLE OF STONES (劔岳 点の記, Tsurugidake: Ten no Ki) is based on the novel by Jirô Nitta, which is the pen name of historical novelist Hiroto Fujiwara. Fujiwara’s novels mainly deal with mountains, as he was a meteorologist before retiring to write professionally.
The film is about a team of explorers who scale Mt. Tsurugidake during the closing years of the Meiji era, as it is the last empty space on Japan’s maps. Tadanobu Asano also stars in this film, as a surveyor hired by the Japanese military. He meets a crew led by experienced woodsman (Teruyuki Kagawa) and they face a range of conditions and terrain while mapping the mountain.
This film recently won several awards in the 33rd Japan Academy awards, including Best Director to Daisaku Kimura.