Silk: a film of rare beauty

In Silk, director Francois Girard, who with his producer Niv Fichman brought to the screen the innovative 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin has once again scored with an absorbing and beautiful to watch film. Photogaphy by Alan Dostie also behind the camera in the former two collaborations, is superb as it moves from rural France, through Europe to the mysterious Japan of the 1860s.

This is the story of young Herve Joncour(Michael Pitt), soldier son of the mayor of a small French town whose prosperity depends on its silk industry. In the 1860s, a blight kills the eggs of the European silkworms hitherto used and Baldabiou (Alfred Molina) , a local entrepreneur persuades Herve to leave the army to go in search of healthy eggs said to be at their finest in the remote interior of Japan, a country still unknown to westerners.

Shortly after his marriage to schoolteacher Helene (Keira Knightley)

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Herve leaves for Japan, in an epic journey through Europe, crossing he Russian steppes with a caravan and finally embarking on a smuggler’s vessel to Japan.

He is led blindfolded to a remote village where he strikes up an arrangement with the local baron Hara Jubei (Koji Yakusho) and also silently encounters the baron’s concubine, a mysterious young woman of great beauty(Sei Ashina).

On his return to France Herve, in spite of his love for Helene, is disturbed by the memory of the girl. A second trip brings him even closer to her but without physical contact. He prepares for a third visit.

This story of two loves, one mysterious and unrequited the other familiar and devoted, is taken from a short novel by Alessandro Baricco which has been translated into 26 languages and was adapted for the screen by Girard and co-writer Michael Golding.

Silk, dreamlike and lovely, is wonderful to behold.
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