The Girl from Nagasaki – Review
The Girl from Nagasaki is a 3D feature film production of the classic Puccini Opera 'Madam Butterfly,' directed by world renown photographer Michel Comte. It's a modern day tale that starts with the young Madame Butterfly emerging from the ashes of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki.
By a subtle meshing of reality and fantasy, Michel Comte and his team bring to the screen a visual orgy of modern ballet, opera and narrative film-making. Filming took place in various locations including Japan, Germany, the US and Italy. The grand finale of the film shot at Teatro Valle in Rome, one of the first opera houses to premiere Puccini’s original. The Girl From Nagasaki stars both Mariko Wordell and prima ballerina Polina Semionova as the tragic geisha Madame Butterfly. Yoshida plays the faithful maid Suzuki and both Edoardo Ponti and Christopher Lee star as Officer Pinkerton. The cast includes Robert Evans, Nobu Matsuhisa, Michael Nyqvist, Michael Wincott, Anna Orso, Clemens Schick, Lisa Zane, Mehmet Yumak, Burhan Öçal, Marianne Faithfull and Sasha Alexander.
The film stars Polina Semionova, who is a prima ballerina and Principle for the Berlin State Opera, as Madame Butterfly, and the cast is very diverse. It feels like it ought to be a beautifully produced film. If you haven’t seen Puccini’s opera, we encourage you to do so. It’s a classic tale that has been told and retold, and there are several modern day references and allusions to it throughout modern society. It’s well worth the time to find a video with subtitles and sit in for an evening with the opera. The emotions are all outsized, operatic, and the film flutters between live performance and staged scenes, computer animation and abstract imagery. Christopher Lee is in there, as is Michael Wincott, who rhapsodizes about the various flavor notes of sake. It’s all a bit exhausting at times, but undeniably strange and daring.
The director said something quite interesting regarding the film: This film was never supposed to be a film. It was supposed to be a contemporary art installation. But my wife and I found that the opera world is getting too old and that opera season tickets for the metropolitan or the Berlin opera or any of the big operas around the world have become too expensive. What better way then to just make it yourself? There are dance sequences meant to illustrate the main character’s state of mind that are both thematically blunt and laughably over-the-top, even if they do look spectacular. The movie was projected in 3D for no apparent reason other than this is a thing that some experimental films are doing now. By the time a spacewalk sequence set to, you guessed it, Space Oddity, rolls around, I was more than through. It’s a pity the movie kept going on for another hour.
Brings the tale into the modern age.
It's still opera.