Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Tonko Horikawa directs this unusual adaptation of Lady Shikibu Murasaki's 11th century classic The Tale of Genji -- about the life and loves of imperial prince Hikaru Genji -- which features an all-female cast. The film opens with Murasaki (Sayuri Yoshinaga) living from her family's abode in Echizen, and writing her famous work -- an unseemly pursuit for a woman during this age. She is summoned to the imperial capital of Kyoto to teach the teenaged daughter of court official Fujiwara no Michinaga (Ken Watanabe). The lass is in bitter competition with her cousin over who is going to marry the royal heir to the throne. Instead of teaching etiquette and the like, Murasaki tells her charge about Genji, as an object lesson in male fecklessness. The favored son of a powerful concubine, Hikaru Genji (played by former Takarazuka actress Yuki Amami) is smart, rich, and very handsome. Though he is married off at a young age to Aoi, a woman four years his senior, Genji feels a passionate, blindingly Freudian love for his stepmother Fujitsubo (Reiko Takashima). When she pulls back from the lad, Genji takes lover after lover, until one of his spurned lovers casts a curse on Aoi, leading to her death. Genji retreats into the woods where he meets Murasakinoue (Takako Tokiwa), a beautiful country girl who becomes his soul mate. Of course, this doesn't stop Genji from having the odd tryst on the side.