Hollywood is not above misrepresenting a film in hopes of drawing an audience. It's not that the trailer for Silk misrepresents the film, so much as it does not tell the whole story. (Trailers that don't reveal every plot point of the film they are promoting—now there's a novel idea.) And yet, if you come away from the trailer thinking that Silk is merely a film about an upstanding, married, European man who goes to Japan on business and begins a torrid love affair, you would be completely mistaken.
Silk begins at a sprint. 19th century French boy (Michael Pitt's Herve) meets girl (Keira Knightly's Helene), boy and girl fall in love and get married, and boy resigns his army commission to begin working for Mr. Baldabiou (Alfred Molina), a local silk merchant with dreams of avarice. This all takes place in less than ten minutes.
The real meat of the story is what happens not when Herve is home, but on the road, traveling to exotic locations to procure the precious silkworm eggs that will ensure exorbitant profits both for him and his village. When a strange disease blights the local crop, Baldabiou dispatches Herve on a perilous trek to civil war-torn Japan for replacements.
To reach the mysterious land, Herve must journey by coach and then by train through Europe and into Russia, where a sled carries him across the 3,000 miles of the frozen Russian steppes until he can be deposited on a smuggler's ship. Once in Japan, he is blindfolded and carried on horseback through the snowy Fukushima Mountains to a tiny village wreathed in snow.
This is Japan in perpetual winter, shrouded in fog and ice. Feudal warlords circle each other like jungle cats looking for a soft spot to strike. It is a scene few Westerners have ever laid ...