Apparently, it is the first time a song by the Beatles is used for a major Japanese film.
Variety has this to say, efter the film was shown in Venice (quote):
With his striking visual sense and gift for conjuring a mood of languid sensuality, Tran Anh Hung would seem the ideal filmmaker to tackle "Norwegian Wood," Haruki Murakami's beguiling novel of longing, loss and sexual curiosity in 1960s Japan. But while this beautiful-looking film at times succeeds in capturing its source material's delicate emo spirit, it's far less attentive to the richness of Murakami's characters -- namely, a college student haunted by one woman and ardently pursued by another. Lovely but listless picture is likely to test audience patience beyond Tran's arthouse admirers and the author's fans.
Published in 1987, "Norwegian Wood" has become Murakami's most widely read novel and is generally regarded as his most autobiographical work, despite the author's protests to the contrary. Though it unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of the student protests in Japan and elsewhere during the late '60s, the story sidelines these events to focus on a young man drifting along on a tide of emotional and erotic confusion; the character's general passivity and alienation effectively serve to critique what Murakami views as a hypocritical and jejune form of political rebellion.
Do not forget that other novel about this era, 69 by Ryu Murakami. That film is not bad at all, either, but I have a feeling that in 2010, more people are going to watch Norwegian Wood. The young people who tried to fight against the Vietnam War here in Japan, and the American military bases, have come a long way.
Peaceful Protests In Okinawa
I just found the lovely website for the film. All in Japanese, but go ahead, give it a try. He says, "I was 20 years old in 1969, and met Naoko..."
All that young suffering, all that love...