Pillow Book

( 4 )


This is the DVD equivalent of a coffee table book, to be played at the hippest parties as a moving painting. Strikingly beautiful images, often stylized to appear like the pages of a book, frequently pour from director Peter Greenaway's uncompromising vision, providing his usual study of obsession and iconography. Sacha Vierny's cinematography has never looked more modern, or more traditional. From split-screen black-and-white to close-ups of painterly anatomies, all of Vierny's work shines in the DVD transfer. ...
See more details below
Available in stores.

Pick Up In Store Near You

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store


This is the DVD equivalent of a coffee table book, to be played at the hippest parties as a moving painting. Strikingly beautiful images, often stylized to appear like the pages of a book, frequently pour from director Peter Greenaway's uncompromising vision, providing his usual study of obsession and iconography. Sacha Vierny's cinematography has never looked more modern, or more traditional. From split-screen black-and-white to close-ups of painterly anatomies, all of Vierny's work shines in the DVD transfer. The contrast between postmodern modeling sessions and the photography of historical Asian costumes (both of them vibrant) makes it clear that the imagery has translated accurately. As the movie was filmed in multi-aspect ratios, the frame switches from widescreen to full-frame format at will. It is an intentionally jarring effect, but cinematically sumptuous. English subtitles are readily available when required, but Greenaway has virtually captioned his own film, as most dialogue -- whether Mandarin, Japanese, or English -- is "painted" across the screen in one form or another. It is a function of one of the film's motifs that the text be made sensual. The sound is usually crisp and immediate, as evidenced by the score (a mix of Asian pop and traditional instrumentals). Supplementary material is nonexistent, and the "interactive menus" are quite bland for a film with such lavish images. A stills gallery or a behind-the-scenes documentary would have been welcome additional features. Still, a beautiful film makes for an exquisite DVD and a stunning digital conversation piece.
Read More Show Less

Special Features

Theatrical trailer; Scene selections
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Todd Kristel
Some films get the audience emotionally involved in the lives of thoroughly developed characters; other films use characters as props and place the main emphasis on ideas or visual style. The Pillow Book falls into the latter category. Greenaway doesn't exude much compassion for his characters, even the sympathetic ones; although this film is ostensibly about erotic attraction, it's too cold and detached to generate much passion or sexual arousal. In some respects, Greenaway resembles Stanley Kubrick, whose clinical approach to his characters suggested that he viewed himself as an entomologist examining the behavior of an inferior life form under a microscope. Of course, some people would consider it a great compliment to be compared to Kubrick, and The Pillow Book demonstrates that Greenaway, like Kubrick, has a strong visual sense. Indeed, the visual elements of The Pillow Book are crucial because the film isn't just about people who happen to be involved in calligraphy; it's about the beauty of calligraphy itself, as well as a showcase for Greenaway and his colleagues to manipulate the visual (and audio) elements of the film. For example, Greenaway uses this movie to explore the differences between Eastern and Western forms of calligraphy and fine arts, including the direction of reading text and both the framing and fragmentation of picture space. You could say that he directs like a painter whose visual style depends more on the simultaneous placement of images on the picture frame than on editing or camera movement; you could say that he seems more excited by the ways he can densely pack his film with visual information than by the naked coupling of Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor; and you could also say that his love of art compensates, at least partly, for his detached approach to his characters. So while Greenaway could have done more to get viewers involved in the relationship between Nagiko and Jerome, at least he offers us something interesting to look at.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/15/1998
  • UPC: 043396287099
  • Original Release: 1996
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: 1
  • Language: Japanese
  • Time: 2:06:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vivian Wu Nagiko
Ewan McGregor Jerome
Yoshi Oida The Publisher
Ken Ogata The Father
Hideko Yoshida The Aunt/The Maid
Barbara Lott Jerome's Mother
Judy Ongg The Mother
Ken Mitsuishi The Husband
Hikari Abe Nagiko's Baby
Mariko Ajimoto 10th Century Woman
Chrissy Ann Model
Augusto Aristotle Calligrapher
Ryuko Azuma Grandmother
Chris Bearne Calligrapher
Valerie Buchanon
Cham Ben
Andrew Chan
Farini Chang
Chau Lam Intruder
Chau Kwok Kwong
Edelme Christanse
Anna Chu
Tania De Jaeger Model Friend in Café Typo
Fabienne De Marco Model Friend in Café Typo
Dehong Chen Calligrapher
Wichert Dromkert The Book of the Innocent
Louis Yiu Shi Fu
Ronald Guttman Publisher
Kana Haraguchi 10th Century Woman
Midori Hatsuda Model
Miwa Hayashi Model
Yuki Hayashi Young Female Secretary
Hidashi Hidaka Calligrapher
Yutaka Honda Hoki
Daishi Hori The Book of Youth
Tokiko Horiike 10th Century Woman
Hui Pai Kin
Seizo H. Inoue 10th Century Man
Yuri Inoue 10th Century Woman
Aki Ishimaru Young Nagiko
Kazushi Ishimaru Baby Nagiko
Jo Jo Hui
Bobsy Jureidini
Ai Kanafuji Nagiko's Friend
Tom Kane The Book of the Exhibitionist
Miwako Kawai Young Nagiko
Yoshihiro Kawai 10th Century Man
Ville Khaapassalo Intruder
Kheim Lam The Book of the Seducer
Satomi Kimura Nagiko's Friend
Tatsuya Kimura Nephew
Toshio Kimura 10th Century Man
Fukue Kitaoka 10th Century Woman
Kumi Komino Elderly Secretary
Seitaro Koyama Nephew
Adrian Kwan
Stephen C. Lam
Vanessa Lanza
Jimmy Wai Chung Lee
Anita Pui Shan Leung
Sammuel Leung
Li Chun Man
Jim-Adhi Limas Man in Lift
Lu Jinhua Wife of Calligrapher
Doris Lai Fong Lui
Ham-Chau Luong Calligrapher
Masaru Matsuda The Book of Birth & Beginnings
Kentaro Matsuo Calligrapher
Michiko Matsuo Nagiko's Friend
Atsushi Miura Husband's Friend
Takashi Miyake 10th Century Man
Mr. Lo Old Servant
Mrs. Lo Wife
Kintaro Murayama Nagiko's Friend
Wataru Murofushi The Book of the Dead
Yoshihiko Nagata Husband's Friend
Hiroshi Nakajima 10th Century Man
Atsuko Nakamura 10th Century Woman
Miwako Namie 10th Century Woman
Nguyen Duc Nhan Calligrapher
Michell Leigh Nicholson
Akihiro Nishida Calligrapher
Masami Nishio Nagiko's Friend
Kiymi Nomura Model
Yuki Nou Nagiko's Friend
Yuko Nozawa Model
Yasuko Ogawa 10th Century Woman
Ohko Model
Chizuru Ohnishi Young Nagiko
Poon Wing Hong
Roger To Thanh Hien Calligrapher
See Wah Leung Intruder
See Yan Leung Bookshop Manager
Yuko Shimomura 10th Century Woman
Junko Shinohara Model
Kageyoshi Shirakata 10th Century Man
Makiko Shoji 10th Century Woman
Shuen Ngar Lei
Woo Leung
Arnita Swanson Edele
Shiho Takamatsu Young Nagiko
Masakazu Takemura 10th Century Man
Munenari Takeshima 10th Century Man
Maskai Taketani Young Male Secretary
Eiichi Tanaka The Book of the Betrayer
Miho Tanaka Model Friend in Café Typo
Hiromi Tani 10th Century Woman
Yorks Tong
Kinya Tsuruyama The Book of Secrets
Martin Tukker The Book of the Idiot
Terence Tsin Chung Tung
Kaoru Ueda Model
Hiroko Uno 10th Century Woman
François Van Den Bergen Book of Seducer
Lynne Frances Wachendorfer
Paul Wan
Rick Waney The Book of Silence
Tien Sing Wang Intruder
Wu Wei The Book of Old Age
C.S. Wong
Tony Man Kit Wong
Akiko Yokotani 10th Century Woman
Atsuko Yoshikawa 10th Century Woman
Yoshino Yoshioka Nagiko's Friend
Technical Credits
Peter Greenaway Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Abi Cohen Casting
Brian Eno Score Composer
Terry Glinwood Executive Producer
Nigel Heath Sound/Sound Designer
Hitomi Ishihara Casting
Kees Kasander Producer
Eliza Poklewski Koziell Asst. Director
Martin Margiela Costumes/Costume Designer
Garth Marshall Sound/Sound Designer
Carrie O'Brien Casting
Aimi O. Casting
Paul Smith Costumes/Costume Designer
Jean-Louis Piel Executive Producer
Andree Putman Production Designer
Liora Reich Casting
Koji Tatsuno Costumes/Costume Designer
Wilbert van Dorp Production Designer
Dien van Straalen Costumes/Costume Designer
Sacha Vierny Cinematographer
Emi Wada Costumes/Costume Designer, Production Designer
Denis Wigman Executive Producer
Chris Wyatt Editor
Read More Show Less

Scene Index

Scene Selections
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [2:17]
2. Birthday greeting [3:42]
3. The Pillow Book [15:03]
4. Arranged marriage [6:28]
5. The first fire [5:42]
6. Calligrapher lovers [5:24]
7. Jerome [10:58]
8. Rejection [3:28]
9. Seduction [11:20]
10. Jerome's Plan [1:32]
11. First Book [5:21]
12. Second & Third Book [1:25]
13. Fourth Book [:23]
14. Fifth Book [5:02]
15. Hoki's advice [2:53]
16. Like Romeo & Juliet [3:38]
17. Book of the Lover [3:03]
18. Funeral [2:24]
19. The second fire [1:21]
20. Sixth Book [5:23]
21. Seventh Book [1:55]
22. Eighth Book [3:47]
23. Ninth Book [2:03]
24. Tenth Book [:48]
25. Eleventh Book [:25]
26. Twelfth Book [1:24]
27. Thirteenth Book [5:53]
28. 28th Brithday [7:42]
Read More Show Less


Play Movie
Theatrical Trailer
   Menu Group #1 with 28 chapter(s) covering 02:00:58
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A movie with characters you don't care about!

    I am all for the artsy films and I love Ewan MacGregor but even the sight of him fully naked was not enough to make me care about these characters. I am not sure if it was the repetition of a particular phrase throughout the movie or the strange fetish of the main character that made this movie obnoxious but in the end I could not relate to anyone and did not care in the least what happened to them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Unlike anything you have ever seen

    This movie is a visual masterpiece. Captivating. Stunning. Same director as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Tonight I lay my head on the pillow book...

    This is one of my favorite films & I just couldn't resist the director's sensual, erotic & his beautiful cinematography...'touching' each scence softly like a gentle lover. I fell in love with this work of art the first time I saw it in VHS format. I have been anticipating the DVD to come out & gladly, my wait has paid off! Definitely a must see or better yet, get a copy for longer viewing pleasure! ;o)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews