Monday, February 9, 2009

German director Vadim Glowna adapts Yasunari Kawabata to the screen

by Chris MaGee

From an adaptation of a Japanese anime to an adaptation of a Japanese literary classic... Here's one that my online friend, Malaysian filmmaker Edmund Yeo should definitely be interested in. As I mentioned in a story posted a week or so back Yeo was adapting Yasunari Kawabata's short story "Canaries" into his own 30-minute film "Kingyo". Now half way around the world German actor and director Vadim Glowna has taken a crack at another Kawabata story.

"The House of Sleeping Beauties" is based on the 1961 novella of the same name by Kawabata, the Nobel Prize-winning author of such classics as "The Old Capital" and "Snow Country". The novella tells the surreal story of a ryokan where old men go to sleep beside a beautiful young women, well, young women who are doped to stay asleep and the tragedy when one dies.

Glowna, whose film "Desperado City " won the Golden Camera at Cannes in 1981, transmutes the setting from a ryokan in Japan to a brothel in Berlin run by a mysterious madam. He also steps in fornt of the camera with veteran actor Maximilian Schell to play one of the old men who enjoy taking naps with nubile young women. Pretty macabre stuff. Kind of reminds me of a cross between Luis Buñuel's "Belle de Jour" and Chantal Akerman's 2000 "The Captive" an adaptation of a Marcel Proust story.

Check out the wonderfully moody, creepy and definitely not work safe trailer below. "The House of Sleeping Beauties" has already enjoyed a limited theatrical release in Europe and North America and will be opening in Japanese theatres soon.

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