Based on Alessandro Baricco's novel Silk is the story of a silkworm smuggler and his adventures in Japan.
When the p?ine epidemic - the spotted silkworm disease that ravaged eggs from European hatcheries in the 1860's - spreads overseas the entire European silk trade seemed doomed. In order to continue his lucrative trade Baldabiou (Molina), a roguish French silk trader, decides to send a young military officer Herve Joncour (Pitt) on a perilous mission to Japan. Thus, separating him for months on end from Helene (Knightley), his lovely and devoted schoolteacher wife.
Japan, the island that produced the finest silk in the world for thousands of years, prior to the opening of the Suez Canal, 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 (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.