DOXA 2018 review: Dreaming Murakami


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      Haruki Murakami, the great builder of dreamworlds, is himself an imaginary creature in this quietly engrossing documentary by Copenhagen’s Nitesh Anjaan.

      The famed Japanese novelist never appears on camera here, and his voice is never heard, even though at one point it’s clear that he’s standing mere feet outside the frame. But the film isn’t directly about Murakami. It’s about Mette Holm, the veteran Danish translator of his works, a captivating, enigmatic figure in her own right.

      Holm is constantly chasing the distant author’s intentions while wrestling with the crosscurrents of two languages so unlike as to constitute different worlds. She lives in a kind of limbo of interpretation, passing back and forth between realms just as Murakami’s stories drift between parallel realities.

      If these analogies aren’t clear enough, they’re driven home by computer-generated imagery of a six-foot-tall bipedal frog (yes, you heard right) from the pages of a Murakami short story, who appears to pursue Holm as she moves through the labyrinth of Tokyo. It seems at once menacing, absurd, and profound. And, like the work of both author and translator, it embodies not only hazard and doubt, but also magic and the promise of freedom.