CPH:DOX 2018/ Dreaming Murakami


As a writer and film maker who is quite interested in (and even feel an affinity for) the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, I felt almost obliged to be disappointed and a bit bitter after watching this film. I just knew that about myself because I’m petty and jealous.

But lo and behold: I found that this is a good film and that you should see it.

The film discreetly and knowingly follows Danish translator, Mette Holm, and her work on one of Murakami’s first novels (first published in Denmark last year). At the same time an alternative world is introduced in different ways. Most prominently by a giant frog (inspired by the Murakami-story “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” from the collection “After the Quake”) and for instance more subtly by adding another moon in a couple of scenes (inspired by the three-volume novel “1Q84”).

It actually works surprisingly elegant due to very convincing VFX. As we follow Holm, her thoughts and her talks with colleagues in a somewhat “normal” documentary style and therefore are forced to activate our cognitive skills, we are also introduced to that special other-world, which is so prominent – but feels truly “natural” – in his novels. So not only are we getting closer to the work of the translator (I actually prefer Holm’s translations and has stopped reading him in English), we are also getting a sense of the special characteristics of the authorship.

At some point, we are let to believe that the film’s climax will be at the Royal Danish Library where Holm will be on stage with Murakami himself after he has been given the “Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award”, but – SPOILER ALERT – I happened to know that THAT wouldn’t happen. They gave the performance, yes, but he just won’t appear on film.

Of course, that must be a bit disappointing for the average viewer – and it does amputate the film a bit – but at the end of the day, director Anjaan (still a pupil at Danish Film School) still offers us a great deal.

The film was selected for IDFA (Panorama section) and is currently featured at CPH:DOX.

PS. How did I know that Murakami wouldn’t appear in the film? Because we’ve tried ourselves for another project, and actually there is a small and somewhat crazy follow-up story in Danish here on that story: http://mikkelstolt.dk/extras/. Look for “PÅ JAZZKLUB MED MR. M.”.

Dreaming Murakami, dir. Nitesh Anjaan, 58 min., 2017

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Mikkel Stolt
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