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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Norwegian Wood aka Noruwei no mori [Blu-ray]


(Anh Hung Tran, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Asmik Ace Entertainment

Video: Soda Pictures Ltd.



Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:13:37.676

Disc Size: 44,836,641,963 bytes

Feature Size: 30,998,925,312 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 4th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 3326 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3326 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



The Making of Norwegian Wood (52:13 in 1080i)

Japanese Premiere (7:58 in 1080i)

• Japanese Opening Day (8:24 in 1080i)

• Venice Featurette (8:09 in 1080i)

Trailer (1:47 in 1080P)

Poster Gallery (:53 in 1080P)





Description: Published in 1987 and since translated into 33 languages, Norwegian Wood is a story of loss and heartbreak in a time of global instability. Haruki Murakami’s bestselling novel is brought to the screen by Tran Anh Hung (Golden Lion winner for Cyclo and Academy Award nominee for The Scent of Green Papaya) and features Japanese rising star Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City) and Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) alongside newcomer Kiko Mizuhara.

Tokyo, the late 1960s… Students around the world are uniting to overthrow the establishment and Toru Watanabe’s personal life is similarly in tumult. At heart, he is deeply devoted to his first love, Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman. But their complex bond has been forged by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere. That is, until Midori, a girl who is everything that Naoko is not – outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident – marches into his life and Watanabe must choose between his past and his future.



The Film:

Brave is the director who seeks to bring Haruki Murakami’s 1987 novel Norwegian Wood to the big screen. It’s one of those rare books: a 13 million-plus bestseller that, such is the very personal pull it exerts on its readers, still feels like a cult fiction.

Set at the end of the 1960s, it is the story of university student Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) and his relationship with the beautiful Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). Both of them are still struggling to deal with the suicide some years before of a close male friend. One night they sleep together. Immediately Naoko abandons college.

Excerpt from Sukhdev Sandhu at the Telegraph located HERE

Directed by Vietnamese filmmaker Anh Hung Tran, Norwegian Wood is based on the best-selling novel by Haruki Murakami. Set in Kobe, Japan in 1967, the film stars Kenichi Matsuyama as Watanabe, a 19-year-old Japanese student who falls for his friend Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi, from The Brothers Bloom) after the suicide of their mutual friend (and Naoko's boyfriend) Kizuki (Kengo Kora); despite their mutual attraction, this only makes things worse for Naoko and she flees to a remote sanatorium in the country.


The film is beautifully shot, with Mark Lee Ping Bin's stunning cinematography making full use of the Japanese countryside throughout the various seasons: the scenes in the snow are particularly striking. There's also a superb score by Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead’s lead guitarist) and a welcome appearance from the titular Beatles song (sung by one of the characters) at around the halfway point.

Excerpt from Matthew Turner at ViewLondon located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Tran's Norwegian Wood is a gorgeous film filled with luscious scenes of hilly countrysides, waterfalls, swimming pools and winterscapes. The dual-layered Blu-ray transfer supports the film's beauty extremely well. The image quality shows some less-even grain or noise that I can't really place but it seems consistent and in-line with the process (maybe shot digitally and moved to 35mm?). Regardless, in-motion this looks awesome (be it the art direction or the solid transfer - probably both!) with true colors and the contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. It's a delightful film to watch in 1080P.  Textures are not overwhelming but I'd say that most fans will greatly appreciate the HD visuals. Thumbs up!


















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master at 5.1 in original Japanese at around 3300 kbps has no notable flaws. It exports a crisp even sound with gentle and subtle intonations and as described by Matthew Turner '...superb score by Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead’s lead guitarist) and a welcome appearance from the titular Beatles song (sung by one of the characters) at around the halfway point.' The lossless track is excellent and we can presume a wonderfully authentic replication of the theatrical. There are English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region B-locked.


Extras :

Supplements look to be taken, or prepared for a Japanese release (the film's original language) - but having English subtitles. We get The Making of Norwegian Wood running 53-minutes in HD covering much of the expected - but enlightening in some senses. There is footage of the Japanese Premiere for 8-minuites in HD as well as the Japanese Opening Day for 8.5 minutes with speeches and interviews, plus a Venice Film Festival of similar length as well as a trailer and minute-long Poster Gallery with some very cool art.



Tran remains an enigmatic cinema force capable of switching gears with his film creations as diversely as any director I can think of. He fearlessly took on the challenge of Norwegian Wood - designing his own gentleness and contemplative manner surrounding his canvas with the beauty of nature, people and love. I may not rank this as highly as The Vertical Ray of the Sun - but it would be a tall order to advance beyond that masterpiece. Fans should prepare for a meditative experience - measured in pace with the filmmaker's vision boldly in-tow resonating from scene to achingly beautiful scene. I can't imagine too many of the director's following wanting to miss out on this Blu-ray. Soda Pictures in the UK have done a proud job and we can certainly recommend this package for film-festival style screening in your home theater! 

Gary Tooze

July 25th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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