[SS] Tony Takitani – Haruki Murakami
February 27, 2010 § 14 Comments
I’ve missed two weeks of Short Saturday, so I made sure to make this week’s short story. Incidentally, the short story I chose, Tony Takitani was also adapted into a film, which of course I watched for Tanabata’s Hello Japan! February mini-challenge. The short story is available online HERE.
I think it’s been quite a while since my last Murakami, and I have to admit that I didn’t realise how much I missed his style. This short story had a different flair to it, compared with the short stories I read in his collection, after the quake, but nevertheless, there was a very solid, very present Murakami feeling to the whole story.
Tony Takitani was written in a very detached manner. During the earlier part of the story, the incidents that occured to the characters seemed to be treated rather carelessly, like as if those events didn’t really quite matter. Like this part where Murakami tells us about Tony Takitani’s mother.
She gave birth to Tony the year after she was married, and three days later she died. Just like that. And just like that she was cremated, quickly and quietly. She had experienced no great complications and no suffering to speak of. She just faded into nothingess, as if someone had gone backstage and flicked a switch.
All this while, there’s no real connection with anything that happens, but there’s a strange feeling that you think you might know these characters, they have that sense of familiarity to them. It’s later on, when Tony meets this woman and falls for her, that the style changes into something with more flair, more expression.
She wore her clothes with such naturalness and grace that she could have been a bird that had enveloped itself in a special wind as if prepared to fly off to another world. He had never seen a woman wear her clothes with such apparent joy.
The story was very jerky and a little stand-offish, like he didn’t really want us to get too near. Though in many cases this kind of style might have back-fired, I think Murakami made it work quite well here with this short story. And personally, it’s a pleasant reminder about the things I like about Murakami.
Directed by Jun Ichikawa, the movie, I felt, kept quite loyal to the original short story that Murakami wrote. Some bits were naturally changed slightly to feel a little more fluid in the movie, but generally, I think the movie was quite good.
It was very quiet, the camera angles and shots were all very subtle, creating this aura of watching it from afar, which was what I also felt when I read the short story. I think the director did a very good job in keeping the spirit of the story intact.
I was a little disturbed at first, when the movie didn’t end where the story ended. The movie continued for another 10 minutes or so, and gave it a little more room to end. Unlike most of Murakami’s other works, where their endings don’t feel so much like endings but rather like platforms to start another story, I felt Tony Takitani actually did end pretty well. So I was surprised the director chose to do what he did.
But now coming to think of it, I rather like that added dimension. Sometimes I tend to forget that books and movies are completely different mediums, and what works in literature might not work as well on screen, and vice versa. In the ending of the movie, the director allowed us to have another chance with the woman that Murakami cut off from his story so abruptly.
The movie is a very quiet one, and it’s not something that I think everyone would enjoy. I rather liked it, and I left the movie with a floating sensation, like I had just been to this really far place and back.