The movie “Silk” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Alessandro Baricco. “Silk” is the story of Herve Joncour (Michael Pitt), a 19th Century French silkworm merchant who travels to Japan and begins a clandestine and forbidden romance with a mysterious and sensual woman.
Silkworm eggs. In one’s palm one could hold thousands of them. When the pébrine epidemic-the spotted silkworm disease that ravaged eggs from European hatcheries in the 1860s-spread overseas, however, eggs from as far away as Africa and India became infected and the entire European silk trade seemed doomed.
To continue his lucrative trade Baldabiou (Alfred Molina), a roguish French trader, decides to send a young military officer Herve Joncour (Michael Pitt) on a perilous mission to Japan. Thus, separating him for months on end from Helene (Keira Knightley), his lovely and devoted schoolteacher wife. The island that produced the finest silk in the world for thousands of years, prior to the opening of the Suez Canal, Japan was considered a dominion forbidden to foreigners, quite literally the opposite end of the world.
It is here that Herve encounters the powerful and feared local baron, Hara Jubei (Koji Yakusho), with whom he will trade for the precious silkworm eggs. And it is here, in a world unlike anything that Herve has experienced before, that he becomes entranced by the baron’s concubine, a deeply mysterious girl of intoxicating beauty. Without speaking one another’s language, together they share a doomed, obsessive love…
A film of painterly beauty and ravishing romance, “Silk” is a historically rapturous epic romance of East meets West.