English and Japanese with English subtitles, 2013, 107 minutes, color, Germany/U.S.A./Japan/Italy
Michel Comte’s dazzling feature debut renders this modern love story as an epic, overt spectacle of romance and loss, and a marvel of formal construction.
Based upon Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, the film introduces Cho-Cho, a child survivor of the cataclysmic bombing of Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The daughter of a geisha, Cho-Cho sets her sights on becoming the wife of a brilliant, young American military pilot based in Japan—and she succeeds. Trained as an astronaut, her new husband departs for a mission. Even though he promises to return, Cho-Cho feels she has been left to manufacture hope in the face of despair.
Comte deftly shuttles between modes of presentation—ballet, video art, opera—presenting a life story through numerous revealing windows. Expertly modulated, these overlapping narrative/performative facets bring expansiveness to the telling of Cho-Cho’s heartbreaking story—with time, attention, and high art graciously embellishing and dignifying every dimension of her experience.
Director: Michel Comte
Screenwriters: Anne-Marie Mackay, Michel Comte
Producers: Michel Comte, Ayako Yoshida, Amy Filbeck
Music: Alessandro Cipriani, Luigi Ceccarelli
Costume Designer: Ayako Yoshida
Production Designer: James Dean
Editor: Nick Tamburri
Sound Design: Maurizio Argentieri
Principal Cast: Mariko Wordell, Edoardo Ponti, Christopher Lee, Michael Wincott, Michael Nyqvist, Polina Semionova