Memoirs of a Geisha (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
018 4 I finally watched MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA , which I skipped when it was out in movie theaters . I read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely . The movie did not impress me . It has some lovely photography , costumes , and scenery . I failed to connect to actress Suzuka Ohgo's portrayal of the Geisha . Mostly , I felt that the film presented a fairy tale version of the Japanese settings . When I read the book , I had a visceral reaction to the characters and locations . The film was simply too perfect . I also questioned whether we were seeing authentic Geisha makeup - - the girls looked awfully natural in some of the scenes .
In any case , the GEISHA movie is not horrible . It simply does not succeed in making that world tangible to the audience . Instead , it presents a fairy tale version of the story when I would have rather had more reality . Plus , the acting of the main roles did not make me emotionally connect to the character's journeys - - a big mistake .
026 4 It's been a long time since I have seen a movie that kept me completely enthralled the entire time . The entire movie was beautiful , well done , and spellbinding . I love the cast of actresses , which I have seen in other movies over the years , but the trio of talent is absolutely moving !
044 4 I loved the look of this movie but it did not live up the richness of the book . I would have loved to see them develop the character of Nobi as they did in the Book . I also missed not seeing the development of Auntie . I was just a little disappointed after reading the book , however , it was still a good movie .
059 4 After seeing this movie the first time , I had to read the book . I had a hard time putting it down . I saw the movie again and enjoyed it even more . It was a little difficult understanding their English at times ; especially Mother . Please see it as it is a great movie .
063 4 Watching this movie , takes one into another world . It is almost difficult to believe it was not made by Japanese people .
071 4 The picture is beautiful . It's no wonder that they won the best costumes at the Academy Awards . Even though they are Asian actors , they spoke english very well .
085 4 I'm a huge fan of Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon and was a bit sceptical that Geisha would live up to my high standards for the Asian inspired epic films . However , it turned out to be my new favorite . The acting is superb in my opinion . It's easy to get wrapped up in the world of the Geisha when watching this one , I really loved this movie !
087 4 I believe this to be a wonderful movie that I will watch over and over again . A wonderful story with a happy ending . The acting was supurb and the scenery was beautiful .
030 4 While I deeply despised the romance novel writing in the book of the same name ; Memoirs of a Geisha , makes a lovely , stirring and visually stunning film .
I fortunately saw the film before I read the book ; otherwise I would have never given the film a chance . The plastic , obsessed and flat-line personality of Chiyo / Sayuri in the book gets somewhat more fleshed out in the film and the supporting cast of brilliant actors carries the film for Ziyi Zhang , who struggles admirably with English .
This is my only complaint with the film . I love that it is in English - it was written by an English speaking man ( man , which is why it never rings true as a memoir written by a woman ) and needs to be accessible to the fantasies that the English-speaking world has of Asians .
The strongest actors in the film are Ken Watanabe , who is able to act simply with his expressive eyes and radiant smile . He expresses the complexity and torment of The Chairman in a way that was not possible in the book . He truly is one of the most gifted actors of his generation and in any language . His voice has a hypnotic quality . And he is finely turned out in those great suits he wears in the film .
Michelle Yeoh is one of my favorite actresses . Her performance in Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon was spell-binding . Here she is utter perfection - why is she not a leading actress in her own Hollywood films ? Oh - wait - she is Asian ! She can carry a film with her engaging presence , accessible beauty and regal bearing .
Gong Li is effective in a part that could have been pure caricature . She takes it beyond this , showing the desperation of Hatsumomo and the pain of her losses too . I was sad to see her leave when she did and wished I could have learned more of her charactors fate .
The rest of the supporting cast are terrific too especially the strength of 。 。 ji Yakusho , the Japanese actor who was in the original Shall We Dance , another one of my favorites . He plays Nobu with subdued passion and practicality ; it is clear that he loves Sayuri , in his way but that way is not to be trifled with .
Youki Kudoh also does an admirable job as Pumpkin in what could have been a throw away role . Her betrayal of Sayuri is poignant and done with a sad bitterness . Very moving . Her fall from grace is also quite devastating .
I like that we are left not knowing how Sayuri and the Chairman will be as they cement their relationship after many long years . I also like that the age difference was much less than in the book and that even though it is hinted at that all of the men are married ( they were of course , a Geisha acted as a mistress to her patron ) , it is not dwelled upon which would have made it more controversial for Western audiences .
The look of the film is authentic to a point that you can practically feel the rain on your skin and smell the cherry blossoms in the air . It is a feast for the eyes . There is definite feeling of utter transformation after Japan is occupied . The sense is clearly depicted that this world of shadows will be no more in a future Japan and ultimately that is the most tragic note in the film .
007 4 I am getting rather tired of reading about how the movie is so terrible when compared to the book . I do agree that the book is absolutely amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment while reading it . I do , however , recognize that this is a movie based on a book and therefore when I saw it I was not expecting that it would be identical to the book . I did enjoy this movie - it is breathtaking to watch visually and essentially the story is pretty faithful to that of the book . What I find makes the biggest difference is that when watching the movie you lose some of the inner dialogue and description of all the events that are present in the book . Also , being that it is a movie some corners had to be cut in order to keep the length of the film closer to 2 hours as is usually the case . Since I have read the book I know the story quite well and am able to enjoy the movie for what it is . In my opinion I think it is a beautiful compliment to the book and I will enjoy watching it again since it is now a part of my DVD collection .
046 4 This movie was not one I think I'll watch again and again . . . but definitely worth seeing , especially on DVD and in the widescreen format . Ziyi Zhang's acting was emotionally deep and thoroughly involving . A unique , if not heartrending and yet somehow triumphant story .
055 4 This a 2 disc set that includes the making of the movie as well as the training involved in the actors becoming Geisha . The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful and the storyline closely follows the novel . Of course the movie is not nearly as detailed as the novel , but I still appreciated the director's perspective . Even though some of the actors were speaking English phonetically , the emotion was very believable as we get a glimpse of old Japanese culture . This a story of a scared but determined little girl that never gives up her dream to become a better person and acheives that dream as an adult . I highly recommend this movie , it is a truly romantic love story .
128 4 this movie must be on my best movies list . it is absolutely beautifully presented . geisha has all the elements of a best film : excellent acting , photography , story line , etc .
056 4 Some very heart wrenching scenes in this movie . Great acting ! Good story , but hard to watch sometimes because of the powerlessness of the main character and the way she was victimized . It shows what people are made to do in order to survive their circumstances . And , the personal victory that this beautiful woman won for herself because she did not give up .
061 4 The movie begins with young Chiyo being sold of by her poor parents because they cannot support her . She gets sent into a geisha house to live as a servant to geishas , who were basically high class prostitutes for their age . There , she works and slaves , always under the thumb of the hen of the household , Hatsumomo . Then she blossoms and her beauty shows thru until she is met one day by the Chairman , a very rich , handsome , and eligible patron of geishas . She is rescued from her servitude by a rival geisha house and is pruned to become Japan's next great geisha . She accomplishes this , only to lose many things in turn , such as her old friends , her family , and most importantly , her sense of self-worth and self-respect . Later , a world war upsets everything and things begin anew . At the end , she encounters again the Chairman , and they finally reveal their hearts and histories to each other . This movie is a potpourri of sadness , melancholy , drama , frustration , tragedy and only the occasionally happy moment . The characters all have one of two flaws ; either they are too innocent to keep away from evil , or too evil to leave the innocent alone . Even the setting is depressing ; overcrowded cities , poor countrysides , and of course , a male-dominated society with no sense of justice but a burdensome sense of honor . All in all , a sad story meant for rainy days .
024 4 I was not sure what to expect from this movie , i knew it would be beautiful , knowing that it had won Oscars for cinemaphotography and costums , but i was surprised at how i was drawn in by this movie and how the two hours plus seemed to fly by . I really wanted to find out what happened to the protagonist , her story was so fascinating . The performances are very good and the film beautifully imagined . I have not read the best selling book this is adapted from , so i dont know if it is totally true to the book , but one thing i do know is , that true or not to the book ; it is a great movie , I loved it . Highly recommended , you wont be disappointed , especially if you liked the Joy Luck Club and the Last Emperor .
037 4 I first watched this because my wife wanted to see it . As the story unfolded , what became apparent was that this is a historical docudrama , sharing some very deep insights of Japanese culture and how it changed with World War II . The acting is superb and , historically , it is on the money . Anyone who cannot relate to the beauty and anguish , so openly shown here , should go back to watching TV wrestling and keep on believing that's real life .
091 4 i was enchanted with the book by author golden and simply had to see the film , which combines award winning cinamatography , great costume design , and a steller cast to bring to life the world of a geisha . chiyo comes from a small fishing and is then suddenly taken away to the town of gion were she will become later in life one of the most famous geisha's ever . along the way she must deal with her rival hatsumomo while under the guide of her mentor mamahe all the while trying to get the attention of the chairman . the film is stunning , excpetioly the cinamatography which got a well deserved oscar , the adaptation is great and yet , somehow after i finished watching the film i felt empty , as if something was missing . i havent written a four star review in a while , the last one being a year ago , but i had to adress this issue . why did the film leave me empty ? i may never know but i still find it a great film .
115 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is another great movie based on a book I haven't read . The movie concerns a young girl in Japan around the time of the Great Depression who is sold to a Geisha house . She grows up as a servant in the house , but grows up to be a beautiful teenager . The geisha of the house is jealous of the beauty and tries to sabotage her . An older geisha from a different house rescues her and trains her in the artistic and social skills necessary to attract men . The geisha enters a world of wealth , privilege , and political intrigue . The geisha falls in love with a wealthy man , but jealousy threatens to tear them apart .
124 4 Memoirs of a Geisha was so much more than I thought it would be . The time was brought to life vividly with the costumes and the acting is first rate . Your emotions will be engaged . I love when a movie can do that . If you haven't read the book , seeing the movie will make you want to .
067 4 Memoirs is just like reading a book . If you have the time and the patience , watch it and enjoy it . Personally , I think the best thing to do is watch it by yourself on a long , rainy day when you have the time . The cinematography is wonderful and the story is like a soap opera so it keeps your interest . The acting is fantastic as well . . . but if you only have the desire to see fast moving car chases and bullets piercing flesh , then watch Mission Impossible ! ! ! ! ! I'm sure the book is better than the actual film . I never read the book , but I did enjoy watching the novel come to life , it's a visual treat , it's like poetry in motion , ya dig ?
027 4 This film is one of the best I have seen in a long time . The scenery is beautiful , the costumes are superb , and the acting is excellent . I read the book years ago and the movie brings it to life even better than the book . Be sure to watch the making of the movie , it's incredible . It is a mystery how it got passed over when the awards were handed out . Maybe it's because there is no swearing or violence or illicit sex . If you like a beautiful love story , you will love this one .
028 4 I loved this movie , I have not read the book but this movie has captured my heart . . . and maybe if I had read the book I would be more critical of the movie . I put this movie on the same level as the movie Out of Africa also a hauntingly beautiful love story and time period film . . . remember this is entertainment and if they can capture a time period and make one care for the characters than in my eyes they have accomplished what they were after . I loved the visuals and the music of this movie . Give it a chance and enjoy .
051 4 It has been quite a while since I have seen a high quality drama like this one . This was more than just a good movie ; it was a wonderful voyage to another place and time . It think it's great for us to broaden our horizons and experience another culture like this . It's hard to imagine what life was like , and still is like , for people in Asian and many other cultures . I was fascinated by the story . I'll add that the acting was top notch as well . This one will not be forgotten .
058 4 I was greatly looking forward to the release of this movie & was not disappointed ! The character's in this movie will bring a flood of different emotions with every new direction as their lives unfold . The scenery & costumes were amazing ! ! The music was perfect in every way . I way so pleased with movie as it is a refreshing change from a lot of today's movies . I bought the CD right after we watched te movie & listen to it often .
065 4 I read the book many months before the movie came out and was not disappointed in the movie as I usually am . There were many things in the book that were hard to imagine , such as the Kimono wrapping , that I was constantly saying , ah . . when I saw them on the screen . Of course the movie was not as involved as the book , because that would be impossible due to time constraints , but it adequately presented most of the story and was quite a good representation .
068 4 Although I've always wanted to , I did not have the chance to read the book before the movie came out . Because of the reviews it received , I decided to watch the movie first and then read the book . If you have not read the book , the movie comes across as a great story with wonderful cinematography . It only peaked my interest to read the story more . After beginning the book , I realized there were many discrepencies and so much more to the story . I'm also glad that I watched the movie because it helped me to better visualize images from the book .
095 4 I really enjoyed this movie and I really enjoyed the book . I think it is hard to adapt a book to the screen and capture every aspect of the story . The thing about the movie that I really enjoyed was the fact that some of the more graphic parts of the book were done in very good taste . This is a trait you do not see very often in movies these days . Would recommend this movie .
082 4 In Arthur Golden's beautiful novel from which this movie was adapted there is the sense that the geisha exists in a fairytale world removed from harsh reality . Even though the kimonos have their seamy side that is not for us to see . The fact that Chiyo was sold into slavery and then charged for room and board and for her education in the pleasing arts , is made clear to the audience , and yet the treatment of the story is very much that of a fairytale . Chiyo is a Cinderella kind of character , beautiful , graceful , tactful and intelligent , courageous , morally correct and even heroic .
This is a good thing and perhaps why the producers worked so hard to get a PG - 13 rating . And maybe it is a good thing that such a movie may be seen by teenaged girls who can afterwards discuss the movie with their mothers . The geisha as a role model . . .
And then again perhaps I am too harsh . My problem is that what made the novel so interesting , so much a work of art beyond its commercial success was the fine line that Golden walked between the fairytale and the reality , between the preserving and the selling of Chiyo / Sayuri's virginity , between her rising above the life of a fishmonger's daughter and that of becoming someone who sells herself to the highest bidder . In the movie this play between the fantasy and the reality is not sufficiently realized . Certainly director Rob Marshall tried . But I think the movie falls short of its potential mainly because the contrast was not made sharp enough . Or perhaps I have become jaded and don't realize that the harsh realities only need to be alluded to .
At any rate , the geisha's story ( told in the first person by the geisha as an older woman looking back - - Shizuko Hoshi does the voice over ) is a strange and touching story of love spanning decades and ending in happiness and fulfillment . But primarily it is a fairy tale , and like all fairy tales there is beneath the surface an underlying current of the dark nature of humanity that can only be glimpsed through the use of symbolism . Just as the wolf in grandmother's bed represents something more than a wolf , so it is with the men attended by the geisha . And so it is with her as well . She projects the image of fairytale beauty and an attentive loveliness , but is in fact a woman of business whose attentions are bought and sold , just as with any commodity . This is the illusion and the pretense , and the soft , embroidered veil between us and the truth that is paid for .
At one point in the film Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) who is mentoring Chiyo tells her that we are geishas not courtesans . We sell our skills not our bodies . No doubt this is true to some very real extent . It is also true that courtesans sell more than their bodies and even common street walkers might be looked upon as workers in a sex industry or even as physical therapists .
When I wrote the review for the book some years ago I speculated that this might be made into a epic quality movie , and indeed it was rumored that Steven Spielberg was to direct . I even thought that in might be made into a Broadway musical or even an opera ( and it still might ) . Such is the familiar yet universal appear of the central psychology of the story , that of a young and beautiful , but ordinary girl being thrown into an alien culture , where she experiences abuse , jealousy and unrequited love , but manages to triumph over such antagonists .
The direction by Rob Marshall , who directed the award-winning musical Chicago ( 2002 ) , is competent with a nice emphasis on grace and beauty , which is certainly appropriate . Especially excellent was the final scene . It is touching and Ziyi Zhang plays her part to perfection . However I didn't like the blue lenses that she had to wear ( and I understand she didn't like them either ! ) . I realize that her eyes were supposed to provoke a sense of a water person , but I think that could have been achieved without the artificiality of the lenses . They were particularly grotesque in the final scene with its lengthy close up .
Li Gong ( or Gong Li - - this is the Chinese way in which the last name goes first , or so I am told ) was outstanding as always as Hatsumomo , the mean geisha who is jealous of Chiyo ; and Suzuka Ohgo who played Chiyo as a little girl was adorable and did an excellent job . Ken Watanabe as The Chairman captured the sense of a wise and compassionate statesman very well , and Koji Yakusho as Nobu was entirely believable as a man of strength and character .
In the final analysis I guess the reason I was not thrilled with the movie is that I thought there was something lost in the adaptation , a subtlety of artistic intent and purpose to show an entire life both before and after World War II , from the time of the Emperor through the hardships that everybody had to endure as the rising sun set . Perhaps this works better in a 400 - page novel than in a 145 - minute movie . On the other hand maybe it is just that I read the book first . Some people say it is better to read the book first because you are then able to form your own idea of what the characters look like . Others say it is better to see the movie first because when you read the book the greater depth that is usually there is better appreciated .
Anyway , this is an excellent movie although not the masterpiece it might have been .
001 4 I'm not sure we're all seeing the same movie here . One comment I keep hearing is that the actresses did not perform well , and I cannot comprehend it . Ziyi Zhang especially gave one of the best performances I have seen in years , at least . Just look at her physically shaking during her last scene with Ken Watanabe . This complete giving over to the emotion of the character is nearly unsurpassed in anything I've seen in years , and I'm a huge cinemaphile . That's not to mention the flawless way she carried the postures and demeanor of the child star that played her young self through-out , giving a sense of consistency that I have almost never seen done this well . It's early impossible to remember that these two actresses are not really the same person with the way their performances meshed . So , maybe it's the reserved nature of Asian women , and the dualing of this nature with a sense of individuality and self-expression that people are interpreting as not understanding the character ?
All I can say is , the cinematography and settings are gorgeous , as are the actresses ( and what a stellar cast ! ) , the performances are great ( maybe the bar has been lowered so much lately that the degree of skill brought to the screen here is more than some people can handle ) . That's the only reason I can offer for the bad reactions I have heard .
The story is involving , and very realistic in terms of human nature . The romance is wonderful . There are flashes of humor and some of the script is pure poetry ( and as a poet you can believe me on that ! ) I could go on all day , but let me just say this .
The movie is awesome , and the time flew by for me . It is not the over-wrought heart-rending sap that some may want it to be , but it is very true to the way most people behave , and especially in the reserved manner of the Japanese . In my book everyone involved in this deserves a huge round of kudos , and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful things , and incredibly realized films .
002 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is a stunning movie . I haven't read the book , but now wish I had . The movie is close to 2 1 / 2 hours long , but the story and scenery are so captivating , it seems so much quicker . The costumes are fantastic and it's no wonder they are nominated for Oscars .
It tells the story of a little girl called Chiyo who along with her older sister , is sold by their father who has no money . The people who bought her , want to make her a geisha so she goes off to school but brings disgrace to herself and therefore they make her their slave . Upon chance , she meets a kind man who buys her a sweet cherry ice cone . She never forgets him and sees him again by chance some years later . Now she has hope and learns again ( in a crash course ) how to be a geisha and her new name is Sayuri .
The story that unfolds from there has ups and downs but the ending is so moving that of course I cried my head off . The setting is beautiful and it made me want to go and visit Japan . The music too is lovely and I hope they do get some Oscars next week because it's a very deserving movie . There is also a great performance by an actress called Li Gong who plays ' Queen Bitch ' Hatsumomo and look for a small role played by Ted Levine who we normally see in a funny role as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer in Monk .
Beautiful move that you absolutely have to see . ( Especially on the big screen if you still can ) .
003 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
You know , for a change of pace from the usual Hollywood crap consisting of ultra violence , formula sex scenes , and predictable time-sensitive plots filled with cliche ' elements , this movie really struck me as both nice and enjoyable . From all the hyper over-kill critiques in the reviews here , I kind of wonder just what these other viewers want ? More of the same as-par-usual Hollywood shlock , perhaps ?
To me , the music score , locations , costuming , and delicate portrayals of the characters just sort of Work and take you away to glimps a higly interesting , refined , and sophisticated culture . Not only that , the babes doing the acting ( Michelle Yeoh , Gong Li , and of course cutie Ziyi Zhang ! ! ) are absolutely SMOKIN ' HOT !
Actually , there's nothing I didn't like about this movie . Something I wish I could say about a lot of others I've seen .
004 4 You know , for a change of pace from the usual Hollywood crap consisting of ultra violence , formula sex scenes , and predictable time-sensitive plots filled with cliche ' elements , this movie really struck me as both nice and enjoyable . From all the hyper over-kill critiques in the reviews here , I kind of wonder just what these other viewers want ? More of the same as-par-usual Hollywood shlock , perhaps ?
To me , the music score , locations , costuming , and delicate portrayals of the characters just sort of Work and take you away to glimps a higly interesting , refined , and sophisticated culture . Not only that , the babes doing the acting ( Michelle Yeoh , Gong Li , and of course cutie Ziyi Zhang ! ! ) are absolutely SMOKIN ' HOT !
Actually , there's nothing I didn't like about this movie . Something I wish I could say about a lot of others I've seen .
005 4 I read the novel this film is based on and loved it , so I was looking forward to the movie when it was released . I was pleased to see that the movie followed the book very closely . The film was absolutely beautiful , with arresting shots of the geisha as they went about their daily tasks and beautiful pans of the gorgeous faces of the actresses . There were also a few nice shots of ( what was supposed to be ) the Japanese countryside .
The film follws Chiyo ( Sayuri ) , a young girl from the country who grows to become one of the most celebrated geisha in pre-war Japan . I know that there was a big stink when the film came out that some of the actresses cast were Chinese , rather than Japanese , but I say phooey on that . You cast an actor to play a role . I've seen plenty of straight actors turn in wonderfully nuanced performances of gay characters . I've seen plenty of older actors play roles that were younger than they were , and vice versa . So what ? The director's job is to find the right actor for the role , and that actor may or may not be the exact nationality referred to in the script . The point is , does this performer tell the story ?
And the performers in Memoirs of a Geisha definitely do . Ziyi Zhang ( Chiyo / Sayuri ) , Li Gong ( Hatsumomo ) , and Michelle Yeoh ( Mameha ) all give their characters a wonderful depth and subtext , and I really enjoyed them . I know that some critics also huffed about the movie being Westernized , with the actors all speaking English , etc . Wha . . . ? The movie is based on a book written by Arthur Golden , a middle-aged white guy from Tennessee . How can you get more Western than that ? Anyway , I personally found the film to be a visual jewel with fabulous performances . I recommend it .
006 4 Could any film capture the beauty and eroticism of the geisha ? I wondered before I saw the film . I've spent years studying and writing about the geisha and their tantalizing walk , elegant mannerisms , and striking , ageless beauty . The geisha exudes an air of mystery that both entices and seduces .
Fashionista or femme fatale ? Who are the geisha really ?
Gei-sha literally translates to art person . They are trained musicians , conversationalists , and party hostesses all rolled into one . They are not prostitutes . In fact , the first geisha were men . Yes , men .
Around 1730 during Japan's Edo period ( 1601 - 1868 ) , only men were allowed to entertain in the pleasure quarters housing the courtesans . Women soon took over the role of geisha , demonstrating their mastery of arts of conversation , song , dance , and musical instruments . The geisha were known strictly as entertainers and were prohibited from engaging in sex with customers . That was the job of the courtesan . Geisha also dressed down , wearing simple and elegant kimonos so as not to compete with the courtesan . Geisha weren't even allowed to sit near the courtesan's customers . They were true artisans making a living at their craft .
I loved the way Rob Marshall portrayed the geisha training in the film . I was swept away by the beauty and lushness I saw portrayed on the screen . As many have criticized , the makeup and costumes may not be authentic and the sets Hollywood-bound , but the story of Sayuri transcends all these factors . The geisha sisterhood is a tradition that crosses over to all cultures and has an effect on each of us . We are all sisters .
I believe the film bridges the differences between East and West by telling a dramatic and fascinating story in such a way that every woman can embrace it . Is it a fairy tale ? Maybe . But that's what pleases the heart most .
And fairy tales last forever .
008 4 I have never read the book .
Ok , now that's out of the way - this film was outstanding . It's mesmerising score from the incomparable John Williams adding weight to the perfect performances from all the lead actors and the impeccable direction of Rob Marshall .
Ziyi Zhang is wonderful . I have loved her every since seeing House of Flying Daggers . Her ethereal beauty adding unspoken weight to the mammoth role of Sayuri .
Maybe , if I had read the book , I would have been disappointed in the film as other reviewers have been . But , coming to the story cold , I was simply captivated .
If you've read the book I guess you should rent this first ; but , if you haven't then buy this film . If you love sweeping epics then this is a must-own .
009 4 I really wanted to love this film and write a wonderful glowing review but alas , I can't . It had some of my favorite actors including Ziyi Zhang ( Hero , Crouching Tiger and House of Flying Daggers ) , Michelle Yeoh ( Crouching Tiger , Twin Warriors ) and Gong Li ( Raise the Red Lantern , 2046 and The Story of Qiu Ju ) . My biggest complaint about the film is that it was directed by Rob Marshall and I feel that he was a poor choice for a number of reasons . First of all , he's a great American director who's more at home making over the top productions ( e.g . Annie and Chicago ) with large sets and large numbers of actors in any given scene as opposed to Geisha which was more introspective and personal . In Geisha , there were a lot more one on one exchanges and the stage numbers were on a much smaller scale . The only time he seemed effective was during Sayuri's ( Ziyi Zhang ) snowstorm performance which ended up being my favorite scene . Although it was a wonderful performance , it was not a genuine Geisha-style performance . That lack of authenticity hurt the film and it is owed to the fact that American born Marshall lacks Asian insight and natural Asian instincts . By doing the snowstorm performance it seemed like he was reverting back to what he knew best - not being subtle . The foundation of all Japanese culture lies in its subtlety . This is something that Mameha stressed to Chiyo as she learned to become a Geisha herself . Subtlety in language and mannerisms above all else . If Marshall stays away from projects like this and sticks with the Annies and the Chicagos he could very well become the next Busby Berkley . Just as actors need to be selective about their projects so should directors . But enough about that . Ultimately , the film should've been directed by an Asian director like Ang Lee or Zhang Yimou . Hey here's a crazy idea . . . how about a Japanese director ! There's a lot of great Japanese directors out there . These other directors would've been better able to convey the subtle Japanese elements that would've provided the much-needed authenticity that the film sorely lacked .
I thought Gong Li was excellent in her portrayal of the veteran / rival Geisha , Hatsumomo . The fact that Gong Li was able to exude sympathy and pathos from an otherwise unlikable character such as Hatsumomo is a testament to her greatness as an actress . A lesser actress would have played Hatsumomo as a straightforward villianess and not the woman of complexity as revealed by Li . In the end , the aging Hatsumomo is a sad , lonely woman to be pitied and not vilified . Michelle Yeoh was also wonderful as the retired Geisha , Mameha who taught and mentored the young and impressionable Chiyo ( Ziyi Zhang ) . I liked the scene where the Chairman ( Ken Wantanabe ) first met young Chiyo and bought her a cherry ice . While she was sitting and enjoying it , she looked over and saw the Geishas for the first time and they were standing there in the most perfect pose - knees slightly bent and umbrellas over the shoulder . There was a strong sense of epiphany conveyed at that moment by the director for two reasons : First , was the beginning of Chiyo's life-long relationship ( obsession maybe ? ) with the Chairman and second was her infatuation and fascination with the Geisha lifestyle . Marshall also aptly conveyed the tragic elements of the Chiyo / Chairman relationship very well . The honor and dignity that the Chairman bestowed to his fellow businessman and friend by stepping back and allowing him to court Chiyo instead of himself . How difficult it must have been for him to supress his own feelings out of a sense of obligation to the man who saved his life and who suffered permanent disfiguration as a result . It was a well-handled facet of the storyline . I also liked the scene where young Chiyo was running through the arches adorned with red fabric that billowed in the wind . It was nice to see the scene revisited at the end of the film as a flashback . It was a very touching and poignant scene . The scene was a perfect blend of sound , vision and energy . Couldn't ask for more than that ! Still , my favorite scene was the snowstorm performance . I was really caught up in the moment . I sat at the edge of my seat as she carefully inched out on those way too high platform shoes . Not only was she precariously balanced at that moment . So too was her entire future career as a successful star Geisha . Would she be successful or would she fall flat on her face ? It was a wonderful bit of allegory . I also like how Chiyo the Geisha , now known as Sayuri spoke in metaphorical phrases . She was subtle , sophisticated but straight to the point .
All in all , I liked the film even though it lacked authenticity . The film had way too many California shooting locations , use of Chinese actors to play the principal Japanese characters which angered many from what I read . Although the performances were credible , I agree that it's a bit too insensitive . I think the film should've been filmed completely in Japan and preferably Kyoto ( Japan's capitol before Tokyo ) which seems to be the heart of the Geisha culture . Some scenes were indeed shot in Kyoto but , not enough . Although the film had many touching moments , I felt that it lacked a true emotional core . Even after the second viewing , I hold firm on this position . Some critics have compared the film to a Japanese vase . . . beautiful , delicate but empty . I think that's a harsh analogy but a little true nonetheless . The post WWII section could have been trimmed down some as well . That's when the film really lost momentum for me .
Although the film was worth watching , I would probably recommend just reading the book ( upon which the film was based ) and move on to something else . If you want to see Gong Li in a great film , I would strongly recommend that you pick up Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou . Here , she portrays Songlian - a young Chinese woman forced to marry a wealthly Lord and become one of his four wives . It is a heartwrenching tale of love , loyalty and betrayal . A lot more insight , historically accurate , beautifully filmed and full of first-rate performances .
010 4 I read the book then watched the movie . The book is much more detailed , as they usually are , but the movie measured up to the book at a faster pace , yet still keeping to the story . I thought both were superb . I liked being able to put a face to all the characters , it made it more interesting for me . I thought the dancing in the movie was beautiful , classy , and hypnotic . Both the book and the movie just drew me in and I had a hard time putting down the book and watched the movie alone and with my husband .
I enjoyed it . I recommend reading the book first and then watching the movie .
011 4 Rob Marshall the director engaged the author Arthur Golden to assist in making his book come to life on the screen . It is a visually stunning artistic masterpiece . The landscapes of Japan are shown in their exotic magnificence with long shots and skilled cinematography . The entire story can not be put on screen but the most unique and intriguing aspects of Chiyo's story were chosen and come to life . Chiyo is a young girl of 9 years who is sold along with her sister to a Geisha house in Kyoto , to be trained for the Geisha lifestyle . Her mother is ill and dies . Her father , a simple fisherman , can not cope with raising two young daughters . He does what he thinks is best to ensure their place in the world .
Chiyo has distinctive alluring eyes which set her apart from her peers - they will likely ensure her popularity and fame , if she develops the skills associated with the geisha training . Her eyes create jealousy in the Geisha named Hatsumomo , whose working skills and talents provide the money to support the lives of everyone associated with the establishment which bought Chiyo . A rivalry develops within the establishement over who will be chosen as successor to Mamasan / Mother , the owner of the Geisha house . Mother had no daughters of her own . She keeps Hatsumomo and the geisha trainees guessing as to her plans . She is a skilled businesswoman and plays her cards very close-fisted . . .
Chiyo feels locked up and imprisoned in the Geisha establishment . She wants very badly to see her sister , Satsu . Hatsumomo , the head Geisha uses this knowledge against Chiyo . Hatsumomo is a selfish spoiled Geisha - she treats the young trainees badly as she looks to satisfy her every whim . Chiyo manages to escape the establishment looking for her sister and by pure chance meets a kindly gentleman in the park who lends her his handkerchief and is the first person to show her kindness since she came to Kyoto . She never forgets his face and longs to meet him again . . . when she is full-fledged Geisha . . .
Her wishes come true much later . . . In this instance , despite being punished for escaping the establishement , some kind of miracle brought Mameha , a very famous Geisha to ask to train Chiyo . She takes her under her wing and Chiyo becomes Mameha's little sister . A strong rivalry develops between Hatsumomo and her little sister nick-named Pumpkin ( due to her round face ) and Mameha and Chiyo . Mameha has connections and uses various techniques to bring Chiyo to the attention of famous patrons of the Tea houses where the Geisha perform and entertain . Chiyo is renamed Sayuri and performs a beguiling dance for the patrons at a party which establishes her as ready for bidding . . . Very wealthy patrons bid for the right to her mizuage ( virginity ) . The higher the price , the more famous and established a Geisha she becomes . Mameha uses her expertise to ensure Chiyo / Sayuri's bids go higher and higher . Hatsumomo uses all her power to try to prevent this and get Pumpkin her little sister to be the most popular and recognized newest Geisha . . . Through Mameha's help , Sayuri manages to gain recognition and bring in high bids . Her fame is established . She does indeed meet the Chairman , the man who was kind to her in the park whom she discovers is the Director of the Imawura Electric Company . But due to his personal relationship and honor debt which he owes to his partner Nobu , it is Nobu with whom Sayuri must develop and cultivate a friendship . . . Sayuri's rivalary with Pumpkin continues as Sayuri's popularity triumphs . The complexity of their rivalry causes grief and heartache to Sayuri . . . as Pumpkin knows exactly the right time to strike a blow to her former friend's plans . This film provides a historically accurate portrayal of the lives of the Geisha at a time when world political events come crashing down on Japanese society . The changing social and economic structure of the country affects the lives of everyone in ways unimaginable . Fortunately , the conclusion of World War II brings about good fortune for Sayuri and her relationship with the beloved Chairman of her dreams . . .
Gong Li plays Hatsumomo to perfection , it is excellent casting . The young Chinese girls who play Chiyo and Pumpkin are superb in their roles . Ziyi Zhang plays the adult Chiyo / Sayuri with great depth of feeling and is highly believable as perhaps the most famous Geisha of Kyoto . . . Unfortunately , Michelle Yeoh who plays Mameha comes off as too business-like , she does not exude the beauty and charm which are attributed to her character . Occasionally , the story is told in a two-dimensional manner which makes the characters seem less warm and a bit distant . This is why I deducted one star . Never-the-less , overall this film is a tremendously beautiful production worth viewing . The subject matter and cinematography over-ride any other considerations . This film is an intriguing and wonderful entry into the well kept secret of the Geisha lifestyle . Erika Borsos ( pepper flower )
012 4 Why there is so much polarity with the audiences of Rob Marshall's cinematic adaptation of Arthur Golden's exquisite novel MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is puzzling . Even in the theater there were those who left halfway through - reason unknown . Despite disagreements on the casting techniques and on the emphasis changes between the book and the film , MEMOIRS remains one of the most visually arresting , genteel films of the year . That it comes across as somewhat of an epic soap opera is no one's fault but the writers . And what is so wrong with an old-fashioned soap opera of a story afterall ?
The opening scene of the turbulent sea and heavy rain that accompany the silent selling of two poor sisters to a merchant planning to place the girls in houses in Osaka gives an indication of the importance of water in this story . The sisters are delivered to a house of geishas and only one is selected by the hard madam . Through years of suffering and anguish the chosen one becomes a geisha , finds comfort from her childhood of poverty , gains loving mentoring by a top geisha , becomes the most sought after geisha in Osaka , finds her love , endures WW II and eventually returns to her dreams . The interplay between the girl and the various members of the geisha training and bartering complex add flavor and conflict that keep the story flowing .
The three principal actresses - Ziyi Zhang , Michelle Yeoh , and Gong Li carry the film well . The large cast includes favorite actors Ken Watanabe and Mako . The settings are splendid , the special effects such as the cherry blossoms , the autumnal reunion of Zhang and Watanabe , Zhang's spellbinding dance - all are brilliant . John Williams ' musical score blends the best of Japanese folk music with contemporary writing and is greatly abetted by the talent of Yo-Yo Ma and Itzak Perlman .
Part of the brilliance of Golden's novel was the meticulous explanation of the myriad details of geisha training and demeanor and makeup and tradition , and while the film version touches on these , the bulk of them are passed over . For this viewer there is a problem with understanding the dialogue due to the enunciation by the actors and the covering of much of the dialogue with ambient music . But that is a minor complaint . In all , MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is an enormously beautiful and affecting film , one that multiple viewings will no doubt enhance the viewers ' appreciation . Recommended . Grady Harp , February 06
013 4 I was quite taken with Golden's book , in spite of its Westernized love story and the blue-grey eyes he imposed on the main character to enhance her appeal to Western audiences . Rob Marshall , however , turned it into a glitzy inauthentic flick covered with Hollywood thumbprints .
I think the main reason it left me and various other reviewers cold was that Marshall and his production crew couldn't resist tinkering with the integrity of the book in order to put their own stamp on it ( in one of the additional features , the choreography director admitted to playing fast and loose with the rules of classical Japanese dance in order to find his own voice in the movie's geisha dance sequences ) . Interestingly , except for the dance consultant and the make-up director , none of the key production people were Japanese , Japanese-American , or even Asian . Even the geisha consultant was an American anthropologist who'd spent a year in Japan living with and occasionally dressing as geisha . As a result , they Westernized the traditional geisha makup , gave the geisha actresses modern Western coiffures , and altered the style of the kimonos ( yanked down the traditional lowered neckline at the nape of the neck to show half the actresses ' backs ) in an effort to turn the main characters into contemporary Americanized fashionistas .
Similarly , it was clear Marshall hired Gong Li and the female cast members of Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon to play the principals because they had been well received by and were known to American audiences , never mind their appropriateness for the characters in Geisha . In fact , in spite of their beauty and acting skills , they were wrong for these parts , not simply because using Chinese actresses was politically incorrect , but because the actresses in question simply did not inhabit their Japanese roles in an authentic way - - they didn't really get under the skins of their characters . Michelle Yeoh , for instance , is an elegant and talented actress , but she looked and acted nothing like the 1930 ' s geisha extrordinaire her character was supposed to be , rather , with her modern makeup job , French twist , subdued clothing , and completely non-Japanese looks she seemed more like a charming 40 - something Chinese-American matron from Beverly Hills .
Similarly , Zhang Ziyi , was the picture of a pretty , childlike Chinese teenager - - completely passive and obedient , nothing at all like the stunning sensation of the geisha world Sayuri became . As Gong Li's exceptional beauty was the most compatable with the traditional geisha look , her performance was the most plausible . It didn't help , though , that her hairdos were so weird , with hunks of hair hanging down even when she was in full geisha rig , and I don't know what Marshall was thinking in having her wander around the streets with her hair straggling down her back and her kimono half falling off , looking worse than the lowest class of prostitute . Despite her temper , Hatsumomo , as portrayed in the book , was a successful geisha . That she would have so blatantly risked her reputation by displaying herself in public as a [ . . . ] is entirely implausible .
But in my view the main problem in both maintaining authenticity and engaging the audience , was the stilted , awkward dialogue of the Asian cast . As I've lived in East Asia and have taught ESL in the region as well as in the US for many years , the effort to make the actors , many of whose English ability was limited if not nonexistant , speak fluent , sophisticated English made me cringe . The nonfluent actors were parroting sounds they had learned phonetically , and though they had been taught the meaning of what they were saying , they literally did not understand the words coming out of their mouths . Even those who spoke a little English were repeating words and grammar patterns that were completely unfamiliar to them . The unnaturalness of their speech was evident in its stiffness and it also showed up in the hesitancy and lack of conviction in their acting . The actress who played Mother , Ken Watanabe , and Gong Li were the worst offenders .
If the cast had been Japanese and the dialogue had been entirely in Japanese the actors would have had a much better chance of bringing their period characters to life . The movie could have been less of a stilted soap opera and more of a story of survival and identity within the exquisitely rigid confines of a lost floating world . It's a shame the movie could not have had an Asian-American director with a sensitivity the culture and respect for authenticity Marshall & co . so glaringly lacked .
015 4 From the moment this movie opens till the very last frame I defy anyone to take their eyes off the screen even for a moment ! Memoirs of a Geisha is truly an extraordinary feast for the eyes . Beautiful luscious scenery , gorgeous women , and an alluring story make for an evening of escapism that has become all to rare these days . I found myself deeply involved with this film . Was it perfect . . . . . no . . . . . I still would have preferred Japanese women playing the parts . I'm sorry but how come they couldn't do that one thing ? I mean they spared no detail and no expense to be as accurate as possible so why not go all they way ? Don't get me wrong these women were very good but it would have been right up there with my top ten had they done that but sad to say ( and I can't think of a good reason for this ) they chose a completely different continent to find their players . But don't let that stop you from getting this movie . You will swear that you can smell the cherry blossoms right through your TV set . Get it today without hesitation !
016 4 To be totatlly honest , I thought I will be dissapointed with this movie . Chinese actors playing Japanese geishas ( Enough for China to ban this movie from the cinemas ) speaking in English . But , after watching the film , I was pleasantly surprised .
Memoirs of a Geisha is the story of Nitta Sayuri ( Played by Zhang Zi Yi ) . The movie starts out when Sayuri is still a child . Chiyo ( Suzuka Ohgo ) , as she was known then , was sold to one of the okiyas ( geisha houses ) in Hanamachi . Her stay in the okiya proved her to be a liability , so she became a servant , until Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) took her under her wing years later . In the months that followed , she was transormed into one of the most well-known geishas in the area . However , this is not without problems . She is rivals with another geisha in the okiya , Hatsumono ( Gong Li ) . She also has fallen in love with the chairman ( Ken Watanabe ) , something unacceptable for geishas .
Admitedlly , this is a kind of Cinderella story . But a nice one , at least . I found the language quite difficult to understand sometimes , but the heavily accented english will still get you through the end . And one more thing , of the main characters , only Michelle Yeoh speaked english , so it was still nice that we could understand what most of them were saying ! I was hoping that the film would be released in DVD with a Japanese language track , but it didn't come about . Instead , the Region 1 release comes with English and French tracks with English subtitles ( thank you ) .
The movie deserved to win the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design , Art Direction and Cinematography . The movie was well-made , and watching it is a visual feast . That is why I believe that this film is meant to be seen in widescreen , although a fullscreen edition is available . I especially loved the scene when the young Chiyo runs to the temple to make a wish . That definitely is one of the most memorable scenes in modern film history .
This movie is flawed . But it makes up big-time . I didn't expect it to be a huge blockbuster hit , or a best picture movie , but it did live up to expectations .
017 4 With all of the negative reviews in my mind as I began watching the film , I braced myself for the worst . I was extremely pleased and elated to see such a beautiful film which was so true to the book . One thing is for sure , the film is gorgeous . There are scenes where the colour seems to bleed off the screen , and some just look like portraits .
The story follows one particular Japanese peasant girl whose father sends her and her sister to a famous geisha house . Her less attractive sister is sent away to a house of prostitution , and Chiyo is given domestic tasks until the time when she can be trained to be a geisha . . . .
Naturally , the main appeal of the film is the glimpse into the true nature of the geisha . How a geisha becomes a pinnacle of elegance and class , a master of entertainment and a royal agent of many gentle graces , how she sells her skills and not her body , how she can be the keeper of traditional arts , and how she can stop a man in his tracks with only one look .
Zhang has the sea in her eyes . She is fascinating as the lovely heroine , the tender mood of every man , the quality of being graceful , the gentlemen's companion enclosed by an ever-changing Japan towards the start of World War II . The apprentice courtesan stretches the limits of realism for her lifelong devotion to a mysterious wealthy benefactor whose kindness to Sayuri as a child left a lasting impression . Sayuri preferred not to insist on her affection , even when time and circumstance conspire to take her away from the man she loves for years at a time , and was subjected to dramatic situations by the rivalry between the opposing Geisha houses .
Certainly if you want to see a beautiful , thoughtful , emotional film centred around a little-understood but fascinating aspect of Japanese culture , see this as soon as possible .
019 4 I read the book when it first came out , and wasn't terribly impressed by it . I didn't see the movie at first , because it didn't seem to get the greatest reviews and the book had left me cold . Then I watched it on cable , and was impressed enough to buy it . What impressed me wasn't just that the film is visually stunning , though it is . Nor is the storyline itself so compelling at first glance . Not only was it pretty uninspiring as love stories go , but I wasn't too impressed with the cinder part of this cinderella tale - - young Chiyo actually got an amazing break , in that as an unwanted orphan sold into slavery , she got sold in a pretty good place for her sex and the times - - a place where she would get an expensive education , taught to read and write , learn a profession whereby she'd never even have to pour herself a glass of sake because her maids do all that , etc . In fact , Chiyo's initial whining and running away I thought was pretty uncharacteristic of what a girl in her position would do , given the realities - - the supposedly dumbwitted Pumpkin was far more savvy and realistic . It's amazing to me all the reviewers who seem to miss that this is not a tale of a girl in the U.S . in the 21st century . That being trained as a geisha and given the chance to inherit a valuable geisha house and adopted as a daughter and heir was pretty amazing luck for young Chiyo , if she could have appreciated it - - given she could have landed in far , far worse places from where she came .
I spent a lot of the movie wondering about why the narrator seemed to whine so much about Chiyo's unlucky fate - it didn't seem realistic . But what finally impressed me was the ending , where the narrator , who at times seemed to be over the top in her narration of a pretty basic story ( mine is a story that should never be told ) finally ended on a very realistic note . I disagree that she just finally learned of kindness , where there had been so much unkindness . The Chairman , Mameha , Auntie , Pumpkin and even Mother were kind to her in their own ways . But I like the fact that this film , perhaps one of the first that I can recall , apart from perhaps the Handmaid's Tale talked about how a woman sometimes has to make her happiness out of a glass half full . For an American movie , and a supposed cinderella romance , that was an amazing leap . This was a Cinderella tale where Cinderella doesn't really get the prince . She's not a fairy tale princess : as she says , she's not an empress , nor a queen . Finally and at the end , she makes no apologies for what she is , and for making her happiness out of what she can . As she says , hers are memoirs of another kind . Whatever you think of the life of a geisha , ( and some reviewers have perhaps deservedly panned the glorification of prostitution etc . ) there is the fact that this was a different culture . Chiyo , who seemed to rail against her fate with almost 21st century female expectations does an abrupt about face at the end . While disconcerting , what I found valuable and in some ways unique is that we don't see too many movies that hold out the illusion of a fairy tale ending and then unapologetically illustrate the half measures that women sometimes have to settle for , and find happiness with . That I found interesting , even intriging . I'm not sure how well it hangs together as a movie or a book . It seems inconsistent to say the least . But I liked that she finally recognized it , and that the author and film didn't try to sell us the pretense of a real fairy tale ending where none existed . She made her happiness where she could . While not acceptable in this day and age , it was for her and I can only applaud that she could find her glass half full and not apologize for it .
That said , I wish more time had been spent on the two girls , Chiyo and Pumpkin and their training , and lives . The extras in this DVD go into that a little more and I found that very interesting . I also went back after watching the movie and read the book again , and this was one of those rare times when I thought the movie as good or better than the book , and surprisingly faithful to the book . I ended up purchasing the DVD two disk set , and highly recommend that and the book too .
020 4 I have to disagree with the other reviewers who say that * Memoirs of a Geisha * didn't do well as a film adaptation . I read the book and I wasn't entirely impressed with it . I thought it dragged on and on when a few chapters could have been edited out .
The film was just amazing . It wasn't too little or too much . . . just right . I thought that Rob Marshall did a great job directing this film . There are beautiful scenic shots throughout the film . You just cannot help but be fascinated and relaxed .
* Memoirs * is about a retired geisha retelling her life . Immediately , after their mother died , Chiyo and Satsu were sold by their father to become geishas . Upon arrival into town , the sisters were split apart .
There comes a time when Chiyo is just at her saddest moment because she has lost a chance to reunite and escape with her sister and has been made a house slave . However , by happenstance , Chiyo meets The Chairman who gives her hope and some friendly advice . At that moment , Chiyo has fallen for The Chairman . At the moment , Chiyo decides that she will become a geisha . . . just so that she could be near him .
This is when things get really interesting . However , there's no best part because all of the pieces were wonderful ! I loved seeing Chiyo , now called Sayuri , retorts against Hatsumomo , the geisha of her house , in such subtle and overt ways .
The question is whether Sayuri was ever really free to be . She has had her dreams dashed . Can she dream again ? Can she afford to dream once more ?
* Memoirs * covers so much issues and emotions , such as love , hate , betrayal , loyalty , trust , culture , traditions desires , and so many more . It's amazing that such a film could cover so many aspects of life . . . and in such a beautiful way .
021 4 Rarely does a film of this quality find the big screen . The visual detail and color from the sidewalks to the roof tops and countryside is nothing short of magnificent , especially the most breath-taking image of the entire film where the camera pans across snow covered houses and temples against the back drop of majestic mountains . I am not sure how they pulled off the imagery but it looks completely authentic .
The story is about as well crafted as any Japanese tale could be , quite accurately depicting the attitudes and societal heirarchy of the times . This movie brings total justice to the concept of the Geisha while exploiting jealous rivalries and clever psychological chess matches . Despite almost two and a half hours of almost pure drama , the story manages to capture attention and hold on to it as the chroincles of a young girl , sold into slavery with her sister , unfold to reveal a rags to riches Cinderella story where the wisdom of a shrewd diplomat and the dreams of a strong , determined and completely frail and vulnerable young lady prevail .
A worthy complement to such Southeast Asian tales as The Last Emperor , The Joy Luck Club , The Dream of The Red Chamber , Snow Country , Spring Moon , and The Woman Warrior .
022 4 It is unfortunate to see gifted actors forced to speak a non-native lanaguage which makes them look like B rated actors in a A level movie .
Their heavy accent is often incomprehensible . But it isn't just their accent , it is their inability to stress the right vowels at just at the right moment which results in so many of the critical passages passing with little notice .
It is apparent the movie should have casted asian american actors for the roles .
Although the subject matter is Japanese Geisha and their culture , this movie is a total western creation . The author , producer , and director are all westerners as is most of its crew .
This movies lacks that subtle asian understanding of cultural nuances . To the asian eye , this is the movie version of Chow Mein , not authentic to asians , but authentic enough to the westerners .
If you want to see a genuine asian movie , watch an asian movie which speaks an asian language .
023 4 It's a bit annoying to hear people come outside of the theater and say things like I don't get it . Much of the time , they may say those things because they've never read the book . However , book-to-movie adaptations are meant to enhance the experience by bringing the book to life . So in the case where the viewer says they don't understand , I feel that they should take part of the blame for not researching the culture before watching the movie . It's a good thing to come out of our cultural shells once and a while .
Second , I thought this movie was a decent book-to-movie adaptation . Of course , the argument is the book is always better than the movie , to see something tranlated into something so lush and exotic , the Memoirs of a Geisha movie is definitly a truthful eye-candy interpretation of the book . So luch and exotic , this attribute that kept me flipping through the pages also held my interest throughout the film .
Great acting on the part of a few . Sayuri's chemistry with Nobu is undeniable . Mameha holds true to her mentor-like qualities yet harbors insecurities of her own . Hatsumomo may seem a bit deranged to members of the audience but her desire to feel loved rather than prized is portrayed more through the film than this book . Although I would advise her to take some hormones , she was somewhat close to a madwoman in this movie .
Above all , a great movie . Maybe not Oscar worthy but something to add to my DVD collection . I recommend this to those who have read the book and are at least curious to see the film and for women who like drama . I would not recommend this to men who are not into sqabbling and hopless love .
025 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
It's been a long time since I have seen a movie that kept me completely enthralled the entire time . The entire movie was beautiful , well done , and spellbinding . I love the cast of actresses , which I have seen in other movies over the years , but the trio of talent is absolutely moving !
029 4 Life of a Geisha is just that : the life of a young girl forced to become an entertainer of men . Her life becomes a bitter struggle for survival among women who each have their own agenda and their own motivation for the way in which they treat her .
Taking place in Japan , around the time of WW2 , Life of a Geisha takes you into their world and shows you an insider's view of the geisha and all of the people who interracted with them . Also shown is the different types of artforms the geisha were versed in , including dancing with fans , walking and hand movements .
031 4 It's a bit annoying to hear people come outside of the theater and say things like I don't get it . Much of the time , they may say those things because they've never read the book . However , book-to-movie adaptations are meant to enhance the experience by bringing the book to life . So in the case where the viewer says they don't understand , I feel that they should take part of the blame for not researching the culture before watching the movie . It's a good thing to come out of our cultural shells once and a while .
Second , I thought this movie was a decent book-to-movie adaptation . Of course , the argument is the book is always better than the movie , to see something tranlated into something so lush and exotic , the Memoirs of a Geisha movie is definitly a truthful eye-candy interpretation of the book . So luch and exotic , this attribute that kept me flipping through the pages also held my wonder throughout the film .
Great acting on the part of a few . Sayuri's chemistry with Nobu is undeniable . Mameha holds true to her mentor-like qualities yet hold fasts to her insecurities . Hatsumomo may seem a bit deranged to members of the audience but her desire to feel loved rather than prized is portrayed more through the film than this book . Although I would advise her to take some hormones , she was somewhat close to a madwoman in this movie .
Above all , a great movie . Maybe not Oscar worthy but something to add to my DVD collection . I recommend this to those who have read the book and are at least curious to see the film and for women who like drama . I would not recommend this to men who are not into sqabbling and hopless love .
032 4 Many who grant Memoirs of a Geisha one or two stars mention they purchased the DVD nevertheless .
I practice martial arts daily and perform Japanese dance . Putting on kimono requires an hour ( rushing ) even with assistance from other dancers setting the neckline , tying obi , placing numerous undergarments and padding necessary for the kimono to fall properly , placing kanzashi ( bira-bira with tinkling dangles get caught up in the hair , the flat round end kanzashi are easier to place by oneself ) . The narrow tightly tied kimono makes walking arduous physically , demanding mincing steps just to propel forward while not splitting the front of the dress with large steps , nor loosening the obi and it's many accompanying under ties . Dancing in tabi and geta is more taxing still , trying to not fall or twist one's ankle . Using fans and hats demands utmost concentration on the task just to remain upright .
The most frightening scene for me was when the baron ( Mameha her older sister's danna patron ) tries to see what Sayuri looks like under her kimono , the many carefully placed and tied layers are stripped from her one by one , in a terrifying reminder of how helpless a geisha was to speak out for herself in a male dominated society .
Since I was not raised from 6years 6months and 6 days performing Japanese dance as are geisha , it is difficult to learn dance as an adult ( book Geisha by Liza Dalby ) . I have danced nearly a decade and still am unable to dance solo . Michelle Yeoh ( ethnic Chinese Malaysian ) besides being a martial arts master danced classical ballet in London , Ziyi Zhang ( Chinese ) is a dancer and martial arts expert as well and both worked previously with Ken Watanabe ( Japanese ) on the movie Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon ; 3 of the principals were prior work colleagues even though they speak different languages .
Director Marshall had to find an experienced retinue , athletically limber and capable of absorbing 10 years of geisha training in shamisen , fan , kimono , walk , sitting , dance in 6 weeks of rehearsal prior to filming . All the actors Malaysian , Chinese , Thai , Japanese , etc had to learn lines in phonetic English since most do not speak English . As an adult it is very difficult to accomplish these tasks unless one is rigidly disciplined already as an actor , dancer , and linguist .
If one compares Memoirs of a Geisha to the Japanese classic Samurai Rebellion directed by Masaki Kobayashi , starring Toshiro Mifune , parallels are evident : rigidly withheld emotions even in the face of rape , societal demands for female acceptance and restraint regardless of how abysmal one's circumstances , subtle sadness , hidden tension in one's public face vs . private agony and despair .
When we rehearse dance , the dancers are voluble , laughing aloud , making jokes , ribald even . But when we perform , everyone is at her most aesthetically pleasing . For the audience it appears slow boring , one who loves me says it is like watching grass grow : sedate but empty . Perhaps the same discrepancy occurred between the public and private life of geisha in the 1920s , if so , it is appropriately portrayed onscreen : rigidly mannered , emotionally bereft in public , volatile and feisty in private .
Read of real life geisha Mineko Iwasaki who wrote an autobiography , but as she is geisha not a writer , the book was not well received . She describes a visually lush , emotionally barren life ; even as the most celebrated geisha of all time , she was tortured by a real life Hatsumomo ( Gong Li ) and finally left geisha life . There are still working geisha who are in their 90s .
Nobu is played by Koji Yakusho who starred in the original Japanese version of Shall We Dance ? As restrained , intense , shy , humble . His confrontation with Sayuri when he believes she is arranging a private liaison with another man is passionate and heartbreaking , unrequited love as physically painful .
The life of geisha demands so much rehearsal , performance and work time there is no room for romance , marriage , family ; a woman must learn to drink a lot of alcohol in order to entertain . A woman who marries must give up her role as geisha .
Sayuri's water theme played by Yo Yo Ma on cello , and the Chairman's theme played by Itzak Perlman on violin are tributes to John Williams ' composition .
I compare Memoirs of a Geisha to the restraint of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ceiran Hinds , the contained emotions of Jane Eyre , with Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke , who is fiery as a child but learns to withhold her speech as an adult after years of abuse ( not unlike the life of geisha ) , and the confusion wrought by subtle hiding of passion as in Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth . These English movies display the same surface emptiness and restraint as in Memoirs , however they are missing humor .
Memoirs has moments of absolute hilarity : when Sayuri opens the door to Mameha for the first time and sneaks a peek over her shoulder to see what Mameha looks like , when Sayuri has her hair dressed for the first time and tries to sleep on the wooden pillow to keep the hair intact ( in training meiko have their own hair dressed , only later when they are full geisha do they wear wigs ) , when Sayuri's leg is cut by Mameha , her stage fright prior to her debut , when she falls off her geta , then causes a boy to fall from his bike by just glancing at him .
Pleasurable movie for me , I hope it will be for you as well .
033 4 This movie has received plenty of bad reviews mostly because of unreasonable opinions and silly preferences people have regarding Asian turned Western movies . People have criticized Memoirs just because of its casting , something I find totally silly and downright stupid . The cast of Memoirs is powerful and I would not have picked other actors myself , even if they were all Chinese .
Secondly , coming from a person who loved the book , the movie was very faithful , if not too faithful to the book . Many preconceived expectations abound book adaptations and I guess that is the downfall of the movie . It remained too faithful to the point that the inner texture and spirit of the story was somehow lost . It was not translated well on screen even if it was faithful to the original manuscript which is the book . A good example of an exemplary book adaptation would be the Harry Potter series because even though there where chunks of the original details missing in the movie , the film still preserved the central spirit of the text . Going by this line of script writing and screenplay would have made Memoirs a better movie .
As a movie itself , not as a book adaptation , Memoirs was beautifully executed . Every frame was lovely to look at : the flowers , the colors , the sounds , the vision of the Oriental scene was lush and vibrant . The production quality was top-notch but that was it . It may have exuded this mysterious Asian aura but it did not follow through . That is the main downfall of the movie . It was aesthetically pleasing but empty .
Acting was superb for the most part . Gong Li was a great Hatsumomo and Michelle Yeoh , though lacking Japanese features , was an exceptional Mameha . Ziyi though , was a bit stoic and unfeeling . The young Chio was adorable though and was a good actress even at a young age .
Overall , the movie was okay . . . Beautiful and Theatric , Artsy and lush , but empty . THe DVD is brimming with extras so I give the total package 4 stars . This is coming from an Asian and a book lover so I guess that makes me more credible ? . . .
034 4 This is a great movie . If you are a type of a person that like very special kind of movies , that tells a story , which you need to keep up with , because first of all you don't want to loose the contest of the movie , and secondly , you don't want to miss anything , because this movie is so interesting , this movie is right for you . A beautiful story of a geisha . A bit of drama , a bit of love story , a bit of action - this movie is everything what you can expect from a good movie . Interesting cultural aspect . Even though many Japanese style things have been changed a bit , you can still learn a lot about Japanese culture .
036 4 It is a excellent movie , very good cinematography , excellent music , the make-up , photography even the acting . . . However , the story is good until the end as it is not as good as it should be ; the end of book is totally different , but as a Hollywood production , it had to be expected something like that . However , the DVD is also very complete , with a lot of extra-information . For lovers of japanesse culture and their women , this is a must-have movie . And Ziyi Zhang is extremely beautiful and charming !
038 4 I read a lot of the reviews before deciding to leave one of my own . Although I appreciate the concerns of people who dislike the inauthentic aspects of the film ( non-Japanese actors , costumes from multiple time periods ) , I also appreciate that it can be really tough to get an art film financed and produced . I assume every compromise had a reason , and the end result still is that this film is beautifully done . Like many Westerners , I am not good at detecting whether a person is of this or that Asian heritage , but this is not very important when it comes to enjoying the story . What matters most are the plot and the emotions of the characters . I found fascinating this intimate epic about a poor girl raised to be a geisha and learning how to reach the top of her profession . For me , watching the DVD at home without feeling rushed or tired , the pace was perfect . The novel is wonderful and so is the movie . Yes , the novel may be better ( often the case when books are translated into film ) simply because a book takes more time to complete , has more interior dialog , and draws you deeper into the characters . The actors here all are excellent , conveying the characters much as envisioned when I read the book . I do agree with James Gebhardt Film Addict that it might have been good to use an Asian director . There certainly are many great ones . But if the Chinese director Ang Lee can make Brokeback Mountain without criticism for being of a different race than his cast - - why can't an American make a Japanese film ? BTW , the DVD extras are terrific , both entertaining and educational . I think the 2 - DVD set is a bargain .
039 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
This movie is a timeless - if unconventional - tale of love in a world much misunderstood by western culture . It's also the story of the indomitable spirit of a young girl in a culture where women were not free to openly chase their own dreams .
Everything about this movie says that it was a labor of love for those who worked on it : the set , the scenery , the costumes , John William's incredible soundtrack . . . The best part of the Special Edition is that on the second disc , you can watch the documentaries on how each aspect of this incredible project came to life .
This is one of my all time favorite movies .
040 4 This movie is a timeless - if unconventional - tale of love in a world much misunderstood by western culture . It's also the story of the indomitable spirit of a young girl in a culture where women were not free to openly chase their own dreams .
Everything about this movie says that it was a labor of love for those who worked on it : the set , the scenery , the costumes , John William's incredible soundtrack . . . The best part of the Special Edition is that on the second disc , you can watch the documentaries on how each aspect of this incredible project came to life .
This is one of my all time favorite movies .
041 4 I really was mesmerized by it . It seem to stay pretty true to the novel . Even the length didn't bother me . Personally , I think movies should be no longer than 2 hours . I'm like a little kid and get squirmy after that most of the time .
Of course I knew how it was going to end since I read the book but I was still happy to see her dream come true . It's amazing that a little kindness can give someone hope to endure a bad situation .
I don't have much to say about this movie except is worth the time to watch . It's a good yarn and it never gets boring .
042 4 I find it interesting that the reviewers that bash the film find fault in two primary areas : the use of Chinese actors and the fact that it did not accurately mirror the book . So what ?
Why isnt a director allowed to take artistic license in his or her film ? The point about using Chinese actors just seems so irrelevant to me . I am simply missing the point about why this matters . I remember Yul Brynner playing the King of Siam years and years ago and not a peep from anyone .
I thought the film was beautiful . I am a devout lover of Japanese culture and have spent a lot of time travelling there . The film gave me a beautiful peek at a side of Japanese history that is rarely shown ( or portrayed as the purists will rant ) .
If you like crafted cinematrography , this is a great film .
043 4 The film is beautifully done . But the story is remotely empty . All the characters seem rather cold and disconcerning . It's really hard to care about anyone in this film .
Ziyi Zhang is definately on the path that Gong Li began . Ziyi Zhang is quickly becoming a popular asian star in nearly every asian film that is shown in america , and perhaps abroad . Gong Li has ruled asian films 10 years earlier and Michelle Yeoh doing something other than a martial arts film was a pleasant surprise . It's nice to see so many familiar asian stars put together in this one film . Even Ken Watanabe was great to see again .
This film was only okay . It is below what I expected with all the hype that it got this past year . I still think Joy Luck Club is a much better asian film than this one . I would even say that Raise the Red Lantern showed more character development about the geisha than this film did . I bought this movie , and I watched it for the first time just today . Maybe I'll watch it again after a few months have passed . Maybe I missed something .
I'm not condemning this film . I'm just a little disillusioned by it . I just don't think that it was such a big deal .
045 4 I enjoyed this movie a good bit . It is visually stunning , the music is haunting and memorable , the pacing is smooth , and the acting is well done , particularly the character of Hatsumomo as portrayed by Gong Li . She actually brought a sympathetic element to the rather one-dimensional evil geisha in the novel .
Much has been made of the casting choices and the liberties taken by the author from his source material . I have read the arguments those opposed to both the book and movie have , but I find they are not powerful enough to distract me from recommending this well done movie . It is a refreshing escapist pleasure .
There are many special features covering the world of the geisha and the arduous preparation the actresses went through that are worth watching as well .
047 4 So getting this on DVD was an absolute necessity , since I didn't get a chance to see it at the cinema . It's just a sudden thing that I like the whole Geisha look , but what originally caught my eye , and made me buy the book & the DVD was the poster . I want that poster ! I also have black hair , although I doubt I could go through the whole fuss of the kimono ! ! ! But the thing that is said , that you can stop a guy in his tracks with just one look - that would be good .
This film really made the book come to life in front of my eyes , unlike what other reviewers have said . I loved all the actresses , and although I always imagined the Chairman to be older , the actor who played him was amazing .
The whole film transported the viewer to a totally different world , evoking the time period , as the film was based from the 1930s to the 50s . Every little attention to detail was well done , and everything just worked for me .
All the actresses did so well in their roles , if you watch the extras , they're literally put through hell to become geisha in the film . Did you see the shoes they had to walk in ? ! Ouch . They were put through a six week crash course on everything geisha . They managed , even the young girls who played the young Chiyo Chan & Pumpkin in the film .
Some things were slightly different from the book to the film , which is obvious . Having the doctor deal with the cut on her leg had a lot more significance in the book , as it led up to the bidding war for her mizuage ( virginity ) . Also the fact that her sister became a child prostitute was kinda glossed over in the book , but made more obvious in the film I thought . But Hatsumomo ( played by Li Gong ) came across even more nasty than in the book , and her eyes are so evil ! Michelle Yeoh as the older geisha , and Ziyi Zhang , as Sayuri , had eyes that could convey the smallest emotion , as geisha were meant to do , as they weren't really meant to show emotion .
The plot sticks very closely to the book , with unnecessary scenes eliminated , but never in any way did it come across as being speeded up , or take any shortcuts . There were no sacrifices made in terms of the story .
I think it would have made things easier if the whole film was in Japanese . It's almost entirely in English , and there are some differing accents thrown in there . But I don't think it would have been such a big hit if it had been in Japanese , and subtitled , as some people are severely opposed to ' reading ' during films . Michelle Yeoh's English is very polished but Li Gong & Ziyi Zhang's English is spoken hesitantly , as they're not really sure what they're saying .
The film ( and the book ) seem to hit a brick wall when they have to deal with World War II , and both changed for me here , I'm glad to see other reviewers agree with me . It just seemed to go downhill for a period , although comes back up at the end , for a nice happy ending . It's intended to show that no one is safe , even geisha , when a war comes around , and a couple of characters do an about face . Pumpkin suddenly becomes an American friendly prostitute and seems to belong in another movie altogether .
The extras , unlike most films , are actually very informative , although I would have liked to have seen more of the makeup side of things - I absolutely love how they did the eyeliner - but still , the film actually makes you want to watch the extras . They're not your usual fluff .
I think that Memoirs Of A Geisha will be even better on repeat viewings , and it's definitely one of my favourite movies . Sure , it's 30 minutes too long , but it's a movie that has to be seen .
048 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is pure eye candy . What a beautiful movie ! The imagery is amazing , the sets are gorgeous , costumes are just incredibly beautiful . A definite delight to watch .
Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorite books , so I was a little hesitant at first to see the movie . But I am so glad I did ! The script followed the book very closely and none of the story was lost in translation .
This is simply a beautiful movie with a touching and heartfelt story . You can not go wrong by buying it !
049 4 Oh dear . Where to begin ? I watched the movie , all of the DVD extras on Disk 2 , I read the opposing Amazon reviews , and also the original Arthur Golden book . Since every like / dislike under the sun seem already to have been voiced here , I will stay away from repeating and becoming a statistic .
Three things you should know before you begin criticizing this movie . 1 ) The creators repeated several times in the DVD Extra Disk 2 that their movie is an impression , not a documentary . 2 ) This is an American movie made in Hollywood . 3 ) This is a movie based on a book written by a Caucasian writer based on his interviews with a geishas , one of which was Iwasaki Mineko , who went on to write her own account called A Life ( because she felt Golden had twisted the real story too much ) .
Ok . Item 1 . I found the DVD Disk 2 more entertaining than the movie itself , because it put the movie next to historical archives . It was the creators ' way , I felt , of giving the actual historical facts some airtime . Watching DVD Disk 2 will help straighten out many of the arguments presented here in the Amazon reviews . The creators of MOAG did consult Liza Dalby , an author herself of several books on Geishas and Japanese kimonos . So if they wanted to , they could have devoted a large percentage of their resources towards getting the historical details fairly accurate . However , the creators stressed several times that MOAG was an impression , not a documentary . This impressionistic license means that the architecture , the kimonos , the Geisha life , dance , routine , hair , makeup are all based loosely on the actual facts . The set designer ( a Hollywood set designer ) went to Japan for a few weeks and distilled a little bit from one building , and some more from another , and threw it all together in a ( con ) fusion of anachronistic and cross-cultural impressionistic town sitting in the backlot of a California town . The costume maker , another non-Japanese who does not specialize in kimonos , did some research and started churning out a kimono every few weeks ( where the real one takes a year and cost what an average Japanese man might make working full time for a year ) . Rob Marshall , the director of Chicago ( and dancer / choreographer by profession ) jazzes up the Geisha dance routine , requests that his version of the Geisha is presented as supermodels of their day . The silhouette of MOAG's geishas are almost wasp-waisted , where the actual Geishas of that time emphasized cylindrical form in their kimono profile .
Japanophiles and Japanese people will undoubtedly scream murder , and they have the right to . However , if you keep in mind that MOAG is the product of the Western imagination , you will be able to watch the movie as entertainment . It would have been nice if they got the details spot on , but I doubt it will make the mainstream audience love it more .
Item 2 . This is an American movie made in Hollywood , produced by Steven Spielberg . People who have watched Wim Wenders's documentary Room 666 ( where famous directors were asked about the future of cinema ) will remember a long list of non-American directors carrying on about technology , craft , and the art of moviemaking , only to be followed by Spielberg , who sounded like an accountant whose primary concern was the bottom line . He talked about financing , funds , box office returns , and then he talked some more about money . Nothing wrong with that , but it explains the decisions they made for MOAG . You could make a movie with authentic Japanese actors speaking Japanese , with Shakuhachi , koto , and shamisen laden soundtrack , and get consultation from everyone from the Learning Channel to the History Channel . But on opening night , the cinema will have only a handful of seats occupied by stuffy academics and bookworms . Instead , take John Williams's music , throw in Itzhak Perlman , Yo-Yo Ma , then use all the biggest recognizable Asian actors in America , make it pretty , and pace it for American consumption . What do you get ? Academy awards , money in the bank , and most importantly , thousands of people with newly whetted appetites who want to learn more about Japanese culture . The ones who have the conscientiousness to research further , will eventually obtain the accurate details anyway .
I'm not saying I understand this approach , but I do understand that this is an American movie made for American consumption .
Item 3 . This movie is based on a book written by a Caucasian writer . Epistemologically speaking , this movie is already three steps removed from fact , if you count Mineko's self-editing in re-telling her story . There's also the case of Mineko who did not speak English as a first language , and Golden who did not speak Japanese as a first language . There's a wide chasm between transmission and perception even by the time the story reaches book form . Art is not always obligated to truth . And the history of art has always been driven by what each interpreted work ( in each artist's reiteration of the fashionable themes of his or her day ) revealed about the interpreter and not the interpreted . If Marshall is a choreographer , then it is only logical that he speaks in a medium he is most familiar with , dance .
Though quality is not being questioned here , I am reminded of digital photography's golden rule : if you don't begin with the best original picture , subsequent edits can only go downhill from there . Both Golden and Rob Marshall never pretended they know what goes on in the pure Japanese consciousness when they dispatch their respective versions of MOAG . What I know of Japanese consciousness comes from zen koans , kimonos , the art of Ike no Taiga and Tawaraya Sotatsu , but I can tell you Memoirs of a Geisha has very little evidence of it .
With all that said , I thought the movie was watchable , and it was not slow . People who complained about Zhang Ziyi's acting may want to be reminded of the Japanese classical tradition of Noh , where masks are worn during the performance , and facial expressions hidden . Combined this with the Japanese tendency to subtlety and hidden connotations , and you begin to realize maybe restraint was an intention , and expecting her to act like Lindsay Lohan may be slightly ethnocentric . Michelle Yeoh does a good job being the stately mentor to Sayuri , but her curiously orange hair did raise my eyebrows . I think the opening of the movie left out an important part of the book . We don't really know the reasons why Tanaka sold the two little girls to the okiya . In the book , we know that their parents were very poor and they lived in a country fishing village . The father was barely making ends meet , and the mother was dying . It could be proposed that the parents agreed to their girls being sold off because that was , by comparison , a better life than that which they could barely offer . If you begin on this premise , then it gives you a very different perception of what it meant to be a geisha , even though geishas are correctly depicted as people who did not have a choice .
The movie is paced better than the book , and it made a story ( that is already geared for public consumption ) move right along . However , there were dozens of times where I found myself saying gosh , if I hadn't read the book , I could not make the leap from the previous scene to this one . For example , we see Hatsumomo finding Sayuri's face on a poster . All that is left out includes the detail that Mameha's meteoric rise to fame came from her appearance on a poster for a celebrated annual festival . In the book , Mameha choreographed a very Japanese dance where Sayuri goes to the poster artist's disheveled studio and hangs out until the suggestion is introduced to him that he has a brilliant idea of using Sayuri for a model . These low-key transactions are what reminds me of traditional Asian ( and Japanese ) etiquette .
For the purpose of the movie though , I guess it was enough to tell what it needed to tell .
So if you can suspend your allegiance to factual and historical details for two hours , then it's entertainment in the form we recognize it to be . Suzuka Ohgo as the young Chiyo is absolutely adorable , and the movie is a good ( but light ) exposure for some of the biggest Chinese actresses working today . Gong Li's Hatsumomo translates onscreen better than it did in the novel , as her character , like Golden's story , is really about the passing of time . Watch the dvd extra on Disk 2 to round up your Hollywood intro to Geishas . If you want to go deeper and enter the actual Japanese world of storytelling , one can start with Mizoguchi , Kurosawa , and Ozu . There is also a whole pantheon of Japanese films that never make it to the US . Film lovers owe it to themselves to explore the birthplace of Clint Eastwood westerns , Star Wars , and some of Jacques Rivette's most memorable masterpieces .
052 4 I have not read the novel by Arthur Golden , but after watching this movie I think that I will have to . This is the story of the life of Chiyo , a woman that as a child was sold by her father , and separated from her sister . She ends up in an okiya , a geisha house , facing even tougher challenges , such as being hated by the star geisha of the place . When she was bordering despair , and ready to give up , the kindness of a stranger motivates her to become a geisha , which she sees as a stepping stone for bigger and better things . After that we witness a journey that is full of emotion , suspense , deceit and even redemption . To tell you the truth , it feels like an epic story .
I was impresses with the enormous amount of information that this film delivers regarding Japanese culture and uses . Even though I am familiar with several aspects of it , I was surprised and challenged while trying to take all the nuances in . The wardrobes and environment are beautifully recreated , and the cinematography is impressive . Even though the transfer to blu-ray was not as good as others , it really helped to accent the breathtaking and colorful landscapes and wardrobes .
People that enjoy learning about different cultures and that have a knack for epic stories should consider picking this one up . I have a final comment on the acting . I was really impressed by Ziyi Zhang , the actress that plays the role of Chiyo as an adult , and I am happy to say that I could clearly understand her English . Being a non-native English speaker , this is not always the case for me when exposed to Asians talking in this language .
053 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha [ Blu-ray ] ( Blu-ray )
This was a good movie that suffered from a mediocre BD tranfer as it is just comparable with the DVD release .
057 4 . . . love blooming in an impossible climate and the struggles of an unwanted orphan . The cinemaphotography and costumes are breath taking plus the story interesting enough to hold your attention to the end .
060 4 Enjoyed the book and this movie so much I decided I had to buy it to be able to watch it whenever I was feeling the need of a great escape .
Beautiful costumes and scenery . Well acted . Good story .
064 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Full Screen 2 - Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
I read the book many months before the movie came out and was not disappointed in the movie as I usually am . There were many things in the book that were hard to imagine , such as the Kimono wrapping , that I was constantly saying , ah . . when I saw them on the screen . Of course the movie was not as involved as the book , because that would be impossible due to time constraints , but it adequately presented most of the story and was quite a good representation .
066 4 * * 1 / 2
If you like your historical fiction visually opulent , dramatically inert and just a wee bit on the stuffy side , then Memoirs of a Geisha is the movie for you .
Based on the best-selling novel by Arthur Golden , Memoirs of a Geisha tells of a small girl who is sold into virtual slavery , trained to pleasure men as a mincing , tea-pouring geisha . The movie shows us the inner workings of this strange and exotic world - the rules , the rituals , the internecine conflicts and the ultimate dehumanization of the women therein . Yet , it does so in such a cliched , prettified way that the sharpness of the message winds up getting blunted , smoothed over , and ultimately contradicted in the process .
Dion Beebe's Oscar-winning cinematography ( though actually not as impressive as the work in either Brokeback Mountain or The New World , which were also nominated ) , along with the ravishing costumes and sets , does indeed create a lovely tableau of 1940 ' s Japan , but often at the expense of the theme , which is to show us the UGLINESS not the beauty of that world .
The tale is largely slow-paced and languid , with the first section , in particular , playing a bit like an Oriental version of a Charles Dickens melodrama . The acting is decent for the most part , but eventually everything - the storyline , the message and the performances - wind up getting buried under the trappings .
069 4 sometimes a movie comes along that is unforgetably beautiful . Memoirs is one of them . This was so beautiful and poignant that
I doubt I'll ever forget it . It's not that the story is anything new but it is in the way it was filmed and the touching performances by the actors . The delicacy of the geisha's manner
and the beauty of her movements were mesmerizing . The photography
was so beautiful and mood provoking there arent words to express it . What a joy to watch , a true artistic achievement . It renews your hope that Hollywood can still produce something worth watching .
070 4 I rate this movie 4 stars or 8 / 10 . The movie won 3 Oscars in 2006 for Best Art Direction , Cinematography , and Costume Design ( great kimonos ! ) . I'd like to add that John Williams ( the GREAT John Williams ) was nominated for Best Music , but did not win . I must admit that I watched this movie by chance , since I heard several bad reviews about it , but I liked the movie and I will say why . I liked the movie because it is beautiful ( costumes , landscapes , acting , story . . . ) . Second , because I learned something about what a Geisha is ( and is NOT ) . Third , because I found the story to be so moving and powerful , from the very beginning where the two sisters are brutally pulled apart from their family , to the very end , when the true love of the Geisha unveils .
This movie put me also in the spot of having to create an opinion on tradition . Specially at the beginning , it is easy to hate those traditions that are hardly understandable . But as the movie moves on , it is easier to understand why , since we are given information about what a Geisha is .
The only thing I did not like about the movie is that chracters speak in English , and it was kind of hard for me to buy it . I'd liked the movie to be shot in Japanese , with English subtitles instead . I have not read the book , so I can't compare the book to the movie ( I heard a lot about the book being better than the movie , but that happens most of the times , and I'm not surprised , even though I have to say that a book is a book , and a movie a movie ) .
Overall , I would recommend this movie to everyone . It is a touching love story with a lot of beauty in there . It slidely touches a little bit of the History of Japan in the times of World War II .
Quote : Chairman : None of us find as much happiness in this life as we should .
P.S . If you like my review vote YES . You can read all my other reviews if you wish to . I modestly write them to help people form an opinion about movies , music and books , but if nobody reads them ( if you don't vote I do not know if you did ) there is no point in writing them : - )
072 4 Someone stereotyped this movie as a tale as old as time about a poor girl making it big time in the big city , losing it , and then regaining it . As an author , and as a writer , I must disagree . I don't want to insult anyone but there was so much more in this movie . The history and culture presented in this film is a sneak preview of what must have been a very compelling novel , which I will order from Amazon , now that I have seen the movie .
If you want to know whether to read it or buy the DVD , my four stars apply to the movie . This movie won the Oscar for cinematography , among other things and the panoramic views of the scenery in Japan is fully realized on the widescreen . So , if you don't have a widescreen TV folks , please don't settle for anything but a full screen version . You will get cheated if you try a widescreen version on a regular TV . This movie is very , very visual . I watched it repeatedly just for the beauty of it .
Now as for the plot , I will let the review of others guide you . The same reviewer who I have complained stereo typed the story truly did give a good report for this movie . He did not give a synopsis and I feel like others have submitted a worthwhile syopsis , so I won't go there .
This romantic drama tells the story of what could have happened to any Japanese girl living before the American assimilation of the Japanese culture into the western world . The history is accurate and exotic in its content .
I'm a nitpicker . I find errors in everything except my own work . ( This is due to the fact that I can't stand to read my own work and do not have the expertise of an editor ) However , I can warn you that there are several places that needed clarification to keep the viewers from getting confused about the customs of the geisha . Some loose ends were spotted here and there . I hope to find those answers in the book . I won't point them out because if no one else notices it they will enjoy the movie much better , but for nitpickers like me . . . be forewarned ! If the loose ends had been edited properly , the movie would have won more academy awards and I would have given it five stars .
This movie is impressive and worth watching . I disagree with some comments from one review about the acting . I think everyone gave a wonderful performance and I doubt if you will find a better Chairman than Ken Wantanabe .
073 4 A very well-made film with great performances . As far as the casting , if John Wayne can play Genghis Khan ( yeah , he did ) , and Tom Cruise can go down as the Last Samurai . . . heck , why not ? Actually after some thought I can see the furor over Chinese actresses cast as geisha - a geisha is not just any woman , she is the quintissential , perfect Japanese woman . . . if you think about it , that really is thoughtless casting , but I'm not of either heritage so I shouldn't overstate my opinion as far as that goes . For the most part the quality of the acting outweighs the nationalities of the actors - Zhang really carries the film , Gong Li is as always excellent and shows so much subtle , unspoken fire and intelligence , she is such a great actress . And the girl who played young Chiyo is wonderful and such a cute kid . To me only the casting of Michelle Yeoh got in the way - she does a decent job but wow , she is SO non-Japanese , there are a few times it really did get in the way for me . The film is photographed beautifully and action is well-paced , the political scheming and infighting among the female leads is a lot of fun to watch as it escalates to its inevitable end . The final act involving the post-WWII Americans and their contract is contrived and implausible , but overall , considering this was made from a very involved and multi-layered novel ( from what i know , i did not read it ) , i think the filmmakers did an admirable job of telling a great story .
074 4 Having lived in Japan and studied the geisha culture , I really wanted to love this movie . My chief annoyance with this film is the fact that the director tried to tell a uniquely Japanese story with a predominately Chinese cast and an American perspective .
Considering the film centered around the lives of maiko ( apprentice geisha ) and geisha , one might think that the film makers would do a bit of research . After all , they hired Peter MacIntosh , one of the few foreigners allowed access to the flower and willow world , as a location adviser . In spite of this , the film is riddled with cultural inaccuracies . The costuming , hairstyles , make-up , dancing , and numerous other aspects are horribly wrong . This is not a mere nitpick - - anyone who is familiar with geisha understand how important all of those aspects are . I read that the director wanted to tone down the geisha look for American audiences , which is not only ridiculous , but insulting all across the board . Why try to tell a story if you're not really going to tell it ?
While the actresses are certainly very beautiful , much of the acting is wooden . Ziyi Zhang is stunning in a kimono , but looks lost and uncomfortable in the English role . Strangely enough , it is the two supporting characters Mother ( Kaori Momoi ) and the adult Pumpkin ( Youki Kudoh ) who end up stealing the show .
I could go on in my diatribe , but instead I'll just advise you to turn to other sources if you're interested in Japan or geisha culture . Mineko Iwasaki , whose story Arthur Golden based his book on , has written a wonderful and enlightening auto-biography on her life as a geisha . Liza Dalby is a cultural anthropologist , an expert on Japanese and geisha culture , and the only westerner ever to become a geisha and be accepted into their hidden world . She has written many wonderful books on the subject , as well as a novel about the Heian era .
By no means am I harping on artistic liberty when it comes to film-making , but I do believe directors and producers have a responsibility when it comes to other cultures . If you're looking for two hours of entertainment and nothing else , then give this movie a go . But if you're looking to actually learn on the subject , I'd suggest a different route .
075 4 Whenever there is a highlighted , foreign-themed movie in Hollywood , there is often undue praise - simply for the fact that it's far from the typical American-centric aspect of most movies . In the case of Memoirs of a Geisha , it's quite possible that the adoration is justified , and I'm kicking myself for not watching this sooner .
Powerful enough in and of itself , the movie tells the story of a young girl named Chiyo ( Ziyi Zhang ) who endures incredible hardships through life . Sold at a young age to be a geisha , placed in a power struggle against other geishas , and facing countless obstacles in her rise to being a powerful , elegant geisha named Sayuri - the most sought after of all - the timeline and transformation from Chiyo to SAYURI is breathtaking . Training with the elegant and patient Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) , and later against Hatsumomo ( Li Gong ) - a character as gorgeous as she is vicious - forges Sayuri's will to succeed . Additionally , the climb to the top gets her involved and rubbing elbows with a Baron ( the always interesting Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ) and the Chairman ( Ken Watanabe ) , for whom she immediately feels strong feelings . The true stars of this movie , however , may not even be the collection of beautiful actresses ; but , instead , everything inanimate .
Slightly overshadowing the actors are the glamorous costumes , and extravagant manner in which the geisha are adorned and decorated . To see their presence is to almost understand how they were able to capture men's attention with a mere glance . Additional credit must be given to the outstanding cinematography and musical score , as nearly every scene is a stunning sight or sound that only amplifies the beauty of Asian culture .
Incredibly well told and acted , detailed and mysterious at the same time , it's an original movie that delves into a somewhat secretive culture not too far removed , and in many ways still prevalent in the patriarchal Japanese society . It's one of the more exotic and beautiful movies ever made . The only downside I could see was the mix-up of Asian races , and the unfortunately necessity of making actresses speak broken English rather than Japanese ( because most of the main stars are Chinese ) .
076 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is a wonderfully crafted film . Director Rob Marshall director of photography Dion Beebe put together one of the most stunningly beautiful films I've seen in a very long time . This is the best blue-ray transfer I've seen yet . It is the benchmark for blue-ray discs in my collection now . The colors of the geisha scenes are rich and vibrant . The reds and whites and pinks are exquisite . They convey the wealth and affluence of the class of society the geisha entertain . This is in stark contrast to the gray and brown colors that dominate the working class settings of the kimono makers shop and fishing village . The costumes and make-up will give you a feeling of being transported back in time . The blue-ray transfer brings out the detailed of the embroidery and the beautiful colors of the geisha kimonos ( of which there are a stunning number used ) .
The performances from all of the women in this film are first class . Li Gong's performance as Hatsummomo the resident and aging geisha , who is threatened by Chiyo's ( played wonderfully by Suzuka Ohgo ) arrival , is superb . Gong's performance benefits from having a much darker and perhaps wider emotional range for her character to work in . Ohgo plays a much more emotionally reserved Chiyo character . But the subtly of her performance should not be overlooked . Sold into the life of a geisha she disciplines herself to hide her feelings from the world . Living behind the painted geisha face she endures waiting for her chance at love .
Ken Watanabe as the chairmen , the object of Chiyo's affections , is great as usual . The male characters in this film do not get the same opportunity to display their excellent acting skills . The exist on the periphery of the geisha world . Entertained by the geisha but neither they nor the geisha are allowed to enter each other's world .
John William's score is subtle and rich . Williams is the best writer of original movie scores working today . With cello solos by Yo-yo Ma and violin solos by Itzhak Perlman the sound track is a delight to hear . Sound effects are used well and add to the ambiance of most scenes .
The film is wonderful and the blue-ray transfer marks this as a must own blue-ray disc .
077 4 This is really the kind of movie that takes you outside your daily life and brings you into a different universe . The settings are awesome , the music excellent . Zhang Ziyi plays a believeable Geisha , although some viewers have objected she is not Japanese . This seems to me quite a weird objection , since movie making and theatre have always been about actor's performances , and not about their biological origins . If any french character should be played by a French , any Nigerian character played by a Nigerian , would we be able to make films at all ? The point is , I never heard someone objecting Brad Pitt playing a German explorer in Little Buddha . . . so we should forget these narrow-minded views and focus on the film itself .
Back to the performances , I was quite amazed by the performance of Gong Li , which reminded me of her role in curse of the Golden Flower . I mean , she has really proven she can play bad characters , showing the wide range of skills she has .
This movie was entertaining , with no slow parts . It is really enjoyable to watch , all while getting the viewer interested into the world of Geishas , and eager to learn more about the Japanese culture .
And yes , the movie is in English , not in Japansese , so I guess we just have to wait for Mel Gibson to produce this kind of movie with real , old Japanese , and Geisha idioms , etc ; - )
079 4 I loved Arthur Golden's novel ` Memoirs of a Geisha ' and tried to keep an open-mind about the film version . Although the film wasn't as ` magical ' as the novel , I thought it stood rather well .
Memoirs of a Geisha on screen , in my opinion , did capture some aspects of the novel . I thought the scenery ( especially of the Japanese market ) was well portrayed .
Although the film is visually stunning , I felt that it could have been made more authentic if it had more Japanese actors and people speaking in Japanese ; most of the actors in the film appeared to be Chinese ( I guess a lot of people wouldn't pick up on that ) and the film was in English .
It's difficult to relate the life of Sayuri / Chiyo ( Ziyi Zhang ) in detail , but the film made a good attempt of showing how she lived and making the audience feel compassion towards her .
The story captures the life of Chiyo , a grey-eyed Japanese girl , who along with her sister , is sold by her parents as a result of poverty . Upon arrival at a Geisha house , the sisters are separated and Chiyo succumbs to her new role as a servant for the dominating Mother .
Hatsumomo ( Gong Li ) the Geisha of the house , develops a dislike for Chiyo and begins to make life difficult for her . Soon Chiyo starts attending Geisha school . Unfortunate circumstances at the house end in her punishment , as a result she will be banned from attending the school .
One day , she meets the Chairman ( Ken Watanabe ) who extends her a kindness that she will never forget . When Chiyo grows up , Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) , a leading Geisha , trains her so that Chiyo , with her unusual eyes , can become the most desired Geisha .
080 4 Memoirs Stars Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh in their non-action roles as a geisha ( Zhang ) and her teacher ( Yeoh ) . Ken Watanabe ( from Letters From Iwo Jima ) also appears in this film as Zhang's love interest . The movie depicts more than the book ( written by Arthur Golden ) that it has adapts . Also , as a 2 - disc set , there's a second DVD which is the special features and it has interviews , behind the scenes and a feature called Geisha Boot Camp ( cute name ) , where it shows young Japanese women make their transitions to become geishas . This is a great movie to watch and it is in the same tradition of the Joy Luck Club .
081 4 I didn't expect too much going into this film . Frankly , I expected to be bored to death , but I wanted to see what all the hype was about in time for the Oscars . I'm glad to see I was wrong . I'm glad to see the Academy got this one right because this movie is visually stunning , and the story isn't bad either . There are a couple dry spots in it , and I think it was drawn out a lot longer than it should've been , but with that being said . I liked it !
083 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is based on a novel set in 1929 . A Geisha is telling her life story throughout the movie . The scenery , acting and storyline are great . The movie has a good plot and twists which keep the viewer entertained . One thing which would have made the movie more authentic would have been if the characters had spoken Japanese . Some characters were Chinese which is fine , but the movie would have been good if characters spoke Japanese . They speak English throughout the movie but in the small parts that they speak Japanese , they don't put subtitles .
Zhang Ziyi and the lady who plays Mameha are very beautiful . Hatsumomo is a great villain . The whole movie kind of has a depressing feel but it matches what a Geisha's lifestyle would be like . The movie is interesting to watch and I would recommend it .
084 4 What a pretty movie . Beautiful images , which are worth the price of admission . Don't look for a moving story , and don't ( I repeat , don't ) expect to find authenticity .
Why the movie makers took such great pains to make ' real ' kimono and research ' real ' geisha dance is beyond me . The cast is a veritable asian ethnic smorgasboard , and the hair , make-up and costume alterations are just weird . They worked hard to make the Hanamachi look like early 20th century Japan , yet they used dress ranging from hunderds of years before to utter fantasy . it's weird .
I bought this movie , and I'm not disappointed in the overall experience , I just found myself asking ' why did they do THAT ' ? over and over .
It's still lovely , however and I'd recopmmend it to anyone looking for a good girlie movie without overdone sentimental junk .
089 4 Stunning . Beautiful in all respects : the acting , the photography , the palette , and the love story itself - - between a young girl who becomes a Geisha , and the first man who is kind to her after she is sold into her new life . Like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces seem random until they are placed side by side to form a whole , the disparate pieces of this story come together to create a canvass that is rich in colors , texture and beauty , and worth watching many times and reflecting upon . Clearly , though , the lives of other Geishas do not have such storybook endings .
090 4 This moving memoir will have you in tears by the end . I can't say that it has a happy ending - but can say that it has a happier ending that I expected . Very touching story of a poor Japanese girl who is sold into slavery by her father , along with her older sister . She makes the best of a horrible life and becomes a top geisha . A wonderful story of survival , rivalry , loss and ultimately love . Well acted and well paced .
Just be prepared to shed a few tears by the time the credits go up .
092 4 Alright , I will agree that it isn't really original , really . It is a Cinderella-ish movie . I will give you that .
However , it is certainly a different take on the typical rags to riches story . It starts with a fisherman's daughter named Chiyo ( misspelling ? ) who lived in a small village being sold into slavery because , apparently , her family could no longer afford to feed her and her sister . She was beautiful enough to be purchased by a Geisha House , but her sister was not , and was instead sold to a brothel . Thus begins the struggle of the two girls to escape to a better life .
Little Chiyo is immediately seen as a threat to the leading Geisha of the house named Hatsumomo ( I am doing my best with the spellings of the names and such . If you know I am wrong , please tell me the correct spelling and I will change them . Thanks . ) . Hatsumomo is a brash , arrogant , and cruel person who will stop at nothing to make it to the top . She is determined and smart , but sadly enough does not use those qualities in a good way at all .
To make a long review short , Chiyo's family is taken from her , either by death or banishment and she is left alone in the world to serve off her debt to the Okia . While she is a servant , she meets a man on a bridge and falls in love with him ( as much as a 12 year old can be in love ) , and vows to become a Geisha to be a part of his world and win his affections .
Well , I will not give away the whole movie through a simple review , so you will have to watch it to find out the rest . I consider this to be one of the best movies recently put out on the shelves , so it is certainly worth buying . The acting is good , the music is lovely , the plot is followable and intriguing .
However , if you are not interested in other cultures , you may not enjoy this movie , because it does certainly put an emphasis on the culture of the time and place where she lives .
093 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
This is a beautiful film to enjoy . Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those movies that gets better on the second or third viewing . I think the film is a bit confusing the first time around because one needs to keep track of the names of the characters and the plot . It's easier to understand the movie on the second viewing since one can focus on the plot and experience the film without thinking too much . I love all the gorgeous female characters , especially the bitchy and naughty geisha ( Hatsumomo by Ms . Gong Li ) . The film is visually stunning . Women should watch this film to know the art of being a woman . Men should watch it to know how to spot a real lady . I visited Kyoto in 1993 and just had to revisit this wonderful city again in 2006 after watching this film . Kyoto ranks as one of my favorite places on earth to experience . Highly recommend this dvd for purchase .
094 4 This is a beautiful film to enjoy . Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those movies that gets better on the second or third viewing . I think the film is a bit confusing the first time around because one needs to keep track of the names of the characters and the plot . It's easier to understand the movie on the second viewing since one can focus on the plot and experience the film without thinking too much . I love all the gorgeous female characters , especially the bitchy and naughty geisha ( Hatsumomo by Ms . Gong Li ) . The film is visually stunning . Women should watch this film to know the art of being a woman . Men should watch it to know how to spot a real lady . I visited Kyoto in 1993 and just had to revisit this wonderful city again in 2006 after watching this film . Kyoto ranks as one of my favorite places on earth to experience . Highly recommend this dvd for purchase .
096 4 Some people forget , or maybe ( is a pity ) just don't know that movies are a form of art called cinema invented in France by two brothers . Memoirs of a geisha serves in the first hand , for keeping track of just that . A well crafted film which includes a beautiful musical score by no other than John Williams ( he did a lot of work during 2004 - 2005 ! - he is also in Munich ) and a performance by Jewish-American Mr . Itzhak Perlman , a man I do keep so close to my heart as an equal , this is a movie about sentiments , about true sentiments that make you go backwards : that's why it is called a memoir . If you do not feel anything or remember in this movie you are made of stone .
It portrays one of the strongest periods of Japanese history : 1929 to the End of World War II as seen thru the eyes of a little country girl who becomes a geisha : women who are not allowed to show any sentiment . [ 2 Discs special edition includes Geisha Bootcamp how the actresses became geishas ; and the history of the geisha custom in Japan + ] . And with such a poetic and metaphoric language so rare to see in movies : the metaphor of the heart and the leaf was beautiful .
You will be moved and yes , I bet that at the end you will be surprised ; and if you are a fan of Mr . Ken Watanabe or are making a collection of his films [ see The Last Samurai ] watch for this one , he shows also here his sensitivity , his contained way of acting , and his Japanese masculine beauty and manners . I vote for him !
097 4 I was not sure what to expect when I watched this movie , but I was pleasantly surprised .
John Williams wrote the score , Yo-Yo Ma played the cello solos , and Itzhak Perlman played the violin solos . The music is wonderful .
The cinematography is great , too . The colors are vibrant in some places , dreary in others - all is done well .
The story is intricate , and if you pay attention and listen closely , you'll be able to follow it .
The acting is VERY good , and the characters all have unique personalities .
Two of the actresses ( Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh ) were in Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon and I liked them in this movie better . Several others in this film were new to me and all did excellent jobs .
There are some themes and occurances in the movie that are NOT suitable for children . I would not recommend this movie for those under 18 .
I cried during this movie , but I'll not say during which part , so there are no spoilers . : )
Memoirs of a Geisha is a fantastic love story , the book is written by a man named Arthur Golden - he must be sensitive and have an appreciation for the relationships of human beings , because they are represented well in the story - and the film may be almost three hours long , but is worth the time . It follows the life of a girl from about age 6 , to age 17 or 18 , so , it needed to be lengthy to make a clear representation of the events in her life .
098 4 I was able to watch this film last night and I ask you this . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Can a group of American men and Chinese actresses render the remote and mysterious world of a geisha ? The answer is yes , with stunning beauty . . . and regrettable flaws . The basic flaw of the film is the dialogue that feels so foreign it might have been written in another language . The different accents of the cast doesn't help matters because they speak in a sort of British English that is a distraction . I was actually wishing for subtitles at certain points of the film .
Truth be told , this movie was not as bad as its trailer led me to expect . It had a story to tell ( although it crumbles in the end ) , images to show , and material to present . There were ample displays of exquisite beauty - - the trailing tails of silk kimonos , the subtle allure of hand gestures , and the captivating kabuki theater dance scene . . .
On the other hand , the American director was not able to pull the Japanese out of Chinese actresses . ( This movie was so crowded by famous Chinese idols that I found myself inadvertently searching for Joan Chen among the cast . ) To be fair , all three main actors ( Gong Li in particular ) show strong performances that made me sympathetic to Rob Marshall's choices . However , they remain utterly Chinese throughout this movie . The look and accent are not the only problems . They lacked the kind of extreme femininity , excessive felicity , and delicately mechanical gesture , posture , and movements of traditional Japanese ladies you can see in custom dramas of Japanese production . ( Michelle Yeoh seems to be the only one trying a little bit of those , but it did not quite work for some reason . )
So , let me re-address the question : Can a group of American men and Chinese actresses render the world of a geisha ? The answer , I guess , really depends on what you are looking for . If you would like a little bit of delight from an aesthetically pleasing picture with a vague standard for authenticity and realism , this movie delivers it . I would not say Rob Marshall failed completely . Memoirs of a Geisha is not the first , nor the last , movie that subjects another culture to the crude lens of American exoticism . It definitely is not the worst one .
099 4 This review is from :
Memoirs of a Geisha ( Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition ) ( DVD )
Memoirs of a Geisha is beautifully filmed and intensely moving . It is a shame that so many reviewers saw it as being too slow or boring . This attitude is an indication of the ADHD society we live in which seems to have trouble sitting still for anything too thoughtful . I thought the movie was much more engaging than the overly-praised book it was based on . The novel was an interesting enough read for its details of the geisha culture , but it felt like a novel written after a great deal of research - - lots of information but very little heart . The movie , on the other hand , absorbs you into each of the characters ' lives and you cannot help but feel for them . You feel how they are trapped by their assignment in society and how they are also free in a way most women in that culture could not be free ; they could enjoy the arts and cultivate their intellects in a way that would be unacceptable for the average wife to do at the time this movie's story took place . The cinematography is so breathtaking and the music is so melancholy ( I recommend the cd as well ) that unless you are made of stone you cannot resist being moved .
100 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is beautifully filmed and intensely moving . It is a shame that so many reviewers saw it as being too slow or boring . This attitude is an indication of the ADHD society we live in which seems to have trouble sitting still for anything too thoughtful . I thought the movie was much more engaging than the overly-praised book it was based on . The novel was an interesting enough read for its details of the geisha culture , but it felt like a novel written after a great deal of research - - lots of information but very little heart . The movie , on the other hand , absorbs you into each of the characters ' lives and you cannot help but feel for them . You feel how they are trapped by their assignment in society and how they are also free in a way most women in that culture could not be free ; they could enjoy the arts and cultivate their intellects in a way that would be unacceptable for the average wife to do at the time this movie's story took place . The cinematography is so breathtaking and the music is so melancholy ( I recommend the cd as well ) that unless you are made of stone you cannot resist being moved .
101 4 If you have read the book , and even if you have not , the visual masterpiece of this movie is worth a rental alone , if not to buy it outright . There are way too many literary critics dismissing this film , without remembering it is essentially a work of fiction , and so when Rob Marshall created this beautiful visual gem , it wasn't meant to be compared verbatim with the book . Give credit to the gorgeous actors , the choreographors , the musicians , the wardrobers , its not the book , its an extension , and a beautiful extension at that , of the book . Dont always listen to every critical review . . . see it for yourself , and then judge .
102 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is visually beautiful , the cinematography masterful . It is also expertly performed . Each actor brings a lot of credibility and emotion to his / her role . The story is intriguing but a bit slow to develop . The emotional highs and lows , the backstabbing , petty jealousies , maneuvering , and ( small group ) politicking will hold your interest , but this is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller by any stretch . It is simply a drama ( which happens to be much better than the typical Hollywood drama . )
At its core , Memoirs is a love story in an exotic setting . Love and loyalty are presented in very conventional ways . Nothing about this film will challenge you to question why this character loves that one or whether one character's loyalty to another is justified . Though a love story , it's not necessarily a chick flick . Certainly , love triumphs in the end , the protagonist's dreams become real , and she lives happily ever after . But , this movie is not drenched with the type of sentimentality that makes American male moviegoers squirm and wish they were anywhere else but watching the movie ( at least , perhaps , not until the very end . ) The woman does not win at her lover's expense . He does not sell his soul , give up his life , to woo her .
As good as it is , Memoirs has one significant drawback : it's unoriginal . It is little more than Cinderella set in war-time Japan . Cinderella's not a princess but a Geisha . Prince Charming is a captain of post-war Japanese industry , a close friend to one of the richest men in Japan . The fairy godmother is another Geisha who takes Chiyo under her wing . Chiyo promises in the beginning of the film that hers is a tragic tale that should never be lived . Her warning rings hollow at the end of this rags-to-riches story in which she lands the man of her dreams , her reason for being . A more interesting ( and emotionally challenging ) ending might have been the one hinted at just before the close of the film , before the twist ending that everyone knows is coming .
RATING NOTE : It deserves 5 stars for the acting and cinematography but only about 2 TO 3 stars for the rest of the story . I give it 4 stars even though I think 3.5 stars would be a more accurate rating .
103 4 I have the book , but never read past the first ten pages . I've seen this movie twice now , and find it is a worthwhile film with a good story . Since I live in Tokyo , I've paid particular interest to the nuances in this film , and now have a different outlook on Geisha life .
The cinematography is without a doubt visually stunning , and the costumes are beautiful and unequalled . . . both earning well-deserved Oscars . Yeoh , Li and Zhang were brilliant in their portrayal of these characters despite doing the movie in their non-native tongue . The special features of the DVD highlights some very interesting facts about Geisha life and customs and also points out how the costumes are used to bring out the personalities of our four main Geisha : the graceful and experienced Mameha , the bold and saucy Hatsumomo , the inadequate Pumpkin and the demure , innocent yet sad Sayuri . Sounds like the Geisha version of Sex in the City , if you ask me .
Geisha purists have often critiqued that Rob Marshall was the wrong director for this movie . He's too much razzle dazzle for a subject that's meant to be demure , sensual and quite subtle . I partially agree , but I also think that many novice viewers would not have watched the movie or gotten bored if it was to stick purely to the tone of the novel .
Worth watching at least twice : get your first impression and then do what Sayuri told the venerable Dr . Crab , get a second opinion .
104 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is a stunning adaptation of Arthur Golden's best selling novel . The movie starts with young Chiyo along with her sister being sold to a geisha house , upon arriving we get our first glimpse of the geisha Hatsumomo ( Gong Li ) , who soon becomes young Chiyo's enemy . Upon meeting the Chairman ( Ken Watanabe ) who is the first person to show Chiyo kindness , she vows to one day become a geisha so she can be with him . Years later under the kindness and guidance of Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) , Chiyo becomes a geisha and is given the name of Sayuri ( Ziyi Zhang ) . Sayuri still has many difficulties with her new geisha life . Trying to outsmart the tyranical Hatsumomo , and trying to win the heart of the Chairman , and wanting a life that is her's . With a beautiful soundtrack by John Williams , with cello solo's by YoYo-Ma , and violin solo's by Itzyak Pearlman , Memoirs of a Geisha gives us a look into a secret world were your life is not you own .
106 4 I started watching it and couldn't stop . I read the book a long time ago and I still think that's better but the movie is really good too . Highly recommended !
107 4 Much like fans of Dan Brown's ' Da Vinci Code ' novel , I was somewhat sceptical learning my favourite novel was about to be made into a film . I was also very disheartened to learn that the director was Rob Marshall , definitely not the most ideal director for such a demanding project . Furthermore , regardless of what critics , reviewers or fellow movie-goers suggest , I found it insanely tasteless for Chinese actors to be cast in the lead roles and for the dialogue to be spoken in American English . If the casting director couldn't see fault in this and didn't care to invest more time and commitment to casting Japanese actors , clearly they didn't care as much about the story and the Japanese culture depicted in the book . There is a vast abundance of extremely talented Japanese actors who would have given more authenticity and justice to these roles and also represented their heritage . It seems obvious that the director and producers were more concerned about capitalizing on a bestseller to make a profit rather than trying to recapture the true cultural and political themes and elements of the story .
This film is not lacking in artistic integrity , the cinematography is beautiful and inspiring and the storyline seems fluent . The sound and music by John Williams , in my opinion , is the film's strongest feature . Rich strings soar and transcend into a recurring melancholic melody entitled ' Sayuri's Theme ' . Although it clearly tries to appeal to the audience's emotions it still works well on its own as a sad exotic and thought-provoking piece , not only about Sayuri but the loneliness and longing one generally encounters in life . I have listened to the soundtrack and found that even detached from the film's characters , it tells a story on its own , and then when I relate it back to the film I was able to gain greater perspective on the film's undercurrents . I was also surprised by the strength of the impact that comes from a cello solo and the smooth transitions into atmospheric pieces .
Strongpoints aside , unfortunately for those with a deep appreciation of the novel and its unique poetic language , the heart is definitely lacking in this typical commercial Hollywood adaptation . Ziyi Zhang is an attractive woman but an average actor in Hollywood territory at best and her portrayal as Sayuri fails on many accounts . I would not say she is a bad actor but I feel she excels more in Chinese roles , as demonstated in her remarkable performance in Wong Kar Wai's ' 2046 ' . Although , in the book , Sayuri seems meek and passive at times , she is really a very strong character who subtly shows her more vulnerable and eccentric side . In the film , Sayuri is just a pretty thing lost and defeated . The child actor playing young Sayuri did a better job than Ziyi Zhang as the grown Sayuri . Hatsumomo was also conniving and manipulative in the novel but her elegant manner is lost in this film as she appears trashy and tactless . She would've been more threatening with a stronger air of mystery .
The introspective language of the book that provides deeper insight into her character is gone and the story is told through conventional Hollywood methods that discard subtlety and a great deal more symbolism for a seemingly more comprehensive and western aesthetic approach aimed towards an audience with a shorter attention span .
I don't think this was an overly bad film but it does not live up to the caliber of the book . Even though I don't feel any film could match up to the book's standard , I feel that in the hands of a director with more passion for recreating the Japanese culture and with a Japanese cast , this film could have been marginally more pleasing for the Arthur Golden's fans . It is not a matter of having the outside knowledge that the cast and field of production was not authentically Japanese and feeling cheated on principle . I feel that myself and a lot of people can still see the difference .
I realise my review is pretty biased but I feel that when you turn an excellent novel into a film you need to be careful as it is a heavy responsibility - one that I don't think Rob Marshell could ever live up to . I wish the entire crew had've rethought their choices which ultimately made this film fall short from how much better it could have been .
108 4 Wonderfully cast , beautifully filmed , and exquisitely scored but with the emotional depth and instincts of a Mexican soap opera .
Seldom do so many excellent qualities converge to produce such a boring , essentially insipid film .
There is a superficial pass at what it takes to become a geisha , how girls of the poor were essentially sold into bondage , pre-war Tokyo , the effect of World War Two etc . , but the real weight of the film is thrown behind the emotional travails of the heroine , her unrequited love , her aguish , her this , her that , ad nausea .
109 4 Three movies won three Oscars this year and one of those three was Memoirs of a Geisha . These were for the Art Direction by art director John Myrhe and set decorator Gretchen Rau , Dion Beebe's Cinematography , and Colleen Atwood's Costume Design . Those particular awards should be sufficient to tell you that this is a gorgeous looking film , but once you see it you may well come to the conclusion that the style of the film is its most substantive part . There is great beauty here , to be sure , but not the soul that would make it a great film .
I have not read Arthur Golden's best-selling novel , but I am aware that those who have are not simply complaining that the book is better ( a constant complaint applicable to almost all literature adapted to the screen ) , but saying that the script by Robin Swicord ( Practical Magic ) has changed the novel into something inferior . Obviously , I cannot speak to that , but I can comment on why this 2005 film proves to be less than satisfactory taken on its own terms .
Young Chiyo ( Suzuka Ohgo ) and her sister are taken from their farming village and sold to a geisha house run by Mother ( Kaori Momoi ) . Chiyo ends up a possible candidate for becoming a geisha , although she has not idea what that means , while her sister , Satsu ( Samantha Futerman ) is immediately forced to work as a prostitute . The geisha of the house , Hatsuomo ( Li Gong ) , takes exception to the young girl and threatens to crush her . But when she grows up , Chiyo ( Ziyi Zhang ) , begins her training in earnest and is given the geisha name Sayuri , and is taken under the wing of the great geisha Mameha ( Michelle Yeoh ) .
The idea of training a geisha and the life they lived in Japan before World War II is a fascinating idea , but except for a stunning dance in artificial snow that is the highlight of the film , the training and the life ends up taking a back seat to a romantic plotline in the film . As a young girl Chiyo first met the Chairman ( Ken Watanabe ) , and her desire to become a geisha is entirely predicated on her belief that becoming one will bring her closer to the man she loves from afar . Of course , the idea of love is antithetical to the ideals of the geisha , and a clear indication to my mind that Western sensibilities are going into play here . The more Sayuri relies on her heart , the less I am attracted to the tale . It is the denial of love that gives the geisha her pathos , and the example of Hatsuomo early on when she secretly meets with her love makes such indulgences to see quite tawdry .
The Japanese sensibilities matter here because from our Western perspective this is the story of a woman who is sold into slavery to be a high priced courtesan . Such a life is by definition better than dying on the street , but it is not a noble profession , and a woman who cannot give her heart is not allowed to be human . The fact that geishas are not prostitutes is apparently not germane to the story . True , after World War II many Japanese prostitutes presented themselves as Geishas and solidified that idea in the popular mind of Westerners , but a key selling point of Memoirs of a Geisha is that it immerses us into a foreign culture and failing to do so accurately is going to be a major mark against the effort for those who recognize the difference . This is a movie that will disappoint you because you have a sense for how fine it could have been if it were telling a more ambitious tale .
I would have liked this movie better if it ended a scene earlier , preferring the somewhat tragic ending of the sick joke that is played on Sayuri to the deus ex machina happy ending , which only serves to conform that this is much more a melodrama than any sort of epic . The fact that the principle women are played by Chinese actresses rather than Japanese has more to do with the recognition of this particular trio of women from Raise the Red Lantern and Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon , than from their ethnicity . It is undoubtedly too soon to say that Chinese and Japanese actresses can now be exchanged with the same ease that American and English actresses cross the Pond to find work . Still , it is a beautiful movie and the DVD extras make watching it and gaining some small insights into the world it portrays worth the effort and justify rounding up .
111 4 I'll keep this short : excellent adaptation , beautiful cinematography , a great score , but sadly lacking in heart ( like the editorial review says ) . Having lived 19 years in Japan and owing half of my blood to the island , however , I still can't get over the horrible casting job . Yes , the Chinese girls are beautiful and wonderful actors , but what kind of casting director has the balls to put non-Japanese women in all three of the main roles ? How insulted and cheated do you think we feel ? What , we don't have beautiful , talented actresses ? I think not . The film thus lacked authenticity and was even less satisfying for me as a Japanese-American . The Last Samurai , which is 100% fictional and somewhat misrepresented several historical aspects of the Samurai ( they were reactionaries , after all ) , at least gets their sentiment across with no damage , paid due respect to both sides , and had genuine Japanese-speaking actors to better relay our culture . You can't fake culture , I'm sorry .
I just had to rant . All in all , it's a nice little movie , but it left me hanging with nothing really at the core of the film , and feeling rather cheated .
112 4 I'm sure there may be even better films on Japanese traditional ways but I really enjoyed this strange movie Memoirs of a Geisha . Though marred by controversy over Chinese actresses being cast ( Like I care ) , I think that they have done an excellent job casting the actresses as they played out the characters really well to the point I don't even notice one bit . Mind you , some spoilers may abound in this review .
The movie starts in 1929 with an impoverished family of two daughters who are eventually sold off by their parents and are forever separated from each other , never to hear or see each other again . The main one Chiyo , who is later known as Sayuri , is sold to an elderly woman who is enormously vindictive until she is taken in by a rival elder and is trained to live the ways of a Geisha and ultimately on her way to becoming one of Japan's most celebrated Geisha's of her time , if not of all time . However , the onslaught of World War II though alters the Japanese mindset and changes the ways of Geisha culture forever .
As of writing this review , Geishas are sadly becoming increasingly rare and are dwindling in numbers especially after the Americanization of Japan after World War II . There are only around 1000 Geisha's left as many Japanese girls are rejecting the lifestyle out of what they percieve as too rigid and controlling .
Memoirs of a Geisha is a very interesting movie that I would certainly recommend having in one's DVD collection . It takes a while to sink in but it is a truly rewarding movie that you'll enjoy for years to come .
114 4 Memoirs of a Geisha provides a real treat for the eyes and the ears . The sets and photography were stunning . Two girls are sold by their father , taken from their bed in a poor Japanese fishing village , in a rainy chaotic opening scene . We then see many different parts of Chiyo's world as the younger daughter grows from a child slave to a celebrated Kyoto geisha .
The music set the mood just as much as the visuals . Sight and sound combined most effectively in Sayuri's ( Chiyo's name changes when she becomes a geisha ) dramatic geisha debut , a sensuous dance that was far from traditional but brought her instant acclaim . The color , motion and music all combined to make the dance one of the most powerful scenes of the film .
The engaging of my senses captured me throughout this lengthy movie . The plot was less effective . In fact , I often had trouble even figuring out what was going on . Chiyo's goal in the early film is to get back with her sister . But when Chiyo cannot escape from the okiya ( the geisha's quarters ) to join her sister in running away , so much for the sister . As the narrator says , I never heard of her again . And so it was , with no apparent sadness or regret on Chiyo's part .
A later scene also seemed dramatic , but then became anticlimactic . That was when the okiya seemed to burn down . For awhile , I thought the vicious older geisha , Hatsumomo , let the fire take her life . And it certainly seemed dramatic to have the okiya in flames . But after the fire was over , everyone seemed to go on with their lives without a hitch . I never did figure out if Hatsumomo was alive or dead .
So the story seemed a weak backdrop to the intense visual and musical sensations . The acting too was bland . To me at least , many of the actors seemed to struggle with their English . Or maybe they were told to affect an accent . Whatever the case , I had trouble understanding them , and had to turn on the English subtitles . When even understanding the words is a problem , forget getting caught up in the acting .
For me , though , Memoirs of a Geisha was worth watching for what it gave my eyes and ears . Like Japanese Kabuki , and even more so for Noh , I enjoyed this movie for what it offers , and never thought much about what it lacks .
That let me spend two and a half hours caught up in a fascinating Japan that no longer exists . That in fact it never did , except in tradition and imagination , hardly lessens the experience .
116 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is a love story that remains tedious and distant from being an epic love story on scale with Casabalanca , Dr . Zhivago , or even Titanic . . .
The story follows one particular Japanese peasant girl whose father sends her and her sister to a famous geisha house . . . Her less attractive sister is sent away to a house of prostitution , and Chiyo is given domestic tasks until the time when she can be trained to be a geisha . . . .
Naturally , the main appeal of the film is the glimpse into the true nature of the geisha . . . How a geisha becomes a pinnacle of elegance and class , a master of entertainment and a royal agent of many gentle graces , how she sells her skills and not her body , how she can be the keeper of traditional arts , and how she can stop a man in his tracks with only one look . . . Yet the film postulates that a geisha's ultimate goal is her debut as a flamboyant dancer , sell her virginity , and pride herself on being well paid for it . . .
The film's photography is outstanding , the music score is inventive , the editing is concise and timed perfectly , and Ziyi Zhang overflows with sensitivity , delicacy , and sensuality . . .
Zhang has the sea in her eyes . She is fascinating as the lovely heroine , the tender mood of every man , the quality of being graceful , the gentlemen's companion enclosed by an ever-changing Japan towards the start of World War II . . . The apprentice courtesan stretches the limits of realism for her lifelong devotion to a mysterious wealthy benefactor whose kindness to Sayuri as a child left a lasting impression . . . Sayuri preferred not to insist on her affection , even when time and circumstance conspire to take her away from the man she loves for years at a time , and was subjected to dramatic situations by the rivalry between the opposing Geisha houses . . .
Memoirs of a Geisha does not submit all its secrets on first viewing ; there are many layers of meaning and mystery to be seen again and again . . . Best of all , here is a movie that honors small acts of kindness as the most precious thing we can cherish forever . . . Marshall's film invited us into a hidden and fragile world of traditional arts and culture where agony and beauty live side by side . . .
117 4 This film tells the story of Sayuri ( Ziyi Zhang ) , who becomes the most accomplished geisha of her time . A fascinating film could no doubt be made about the world of geishas and what their lives were like , but this is not it . This is a visually sumptuous film that completely buys into the supposed romaticism of female subjugation . Instead of a psychologically or sociologically astute film , we get a melodramatic cat fight as the geishas battle over reputation , clients , and money .
The film has other problems as well . While the cast was uniformly excellent , it was distracting that everyone had a different accent . Gong Li , an actress whose work I admire greatly , was particularly difficult to understand . The soundtrack , with its keening strings , often sounded more Chinese than Japanese . Little effort seems to have been made toward authenticity . At Sayuri's debut performance before an audience of the rich and powerful , she gyrates wildly in a fashion that is no doubt meant to portray great passion , causing spectators to swoon with admiration . Bear in mind that this is the culture that produced such traditions as the tea ceremony , in which every movement must be done precisely . I don't think that a lot of flailing about would have impressed anyone .
118 4 Disclaimer : I have not read the book , so my review is based only upon my feelings on the film .
I never even thought I'd see Memoirs of a Geisha let alone like it . I've never REALLY been a fan of Asian cinema . . . I just didn't understand the hype of Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers . Until now . A twist of luck presented me with the chance to see this film . Half-heartedly I sat down at the television and watched with a group of my close friends this movie , and for the first time I understood WHY this genre of film has captivated the Western World .
Memoirs of a Geisha captured a profound beauty and innocence of the Japanese Geisha women , which is ironic . For those who don't know what a Geisha is ( as I didn't beforehand ) they are women who turn their bodies into artistic dances to impress interested men . It's legalised prostitution , basically , and the Geisha's virginity that is auctioned off . Naturally , the film is about the exploitment of this beauty while one determined Geisha ( played by Zihi Zhang ) keeps her dreams of finding love and respect alive .
Personally , the reason I loved this film so much was because of it is SO STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL to watch . I find it difficult to recall a more visually-sublime movie . The film itself is like a dance ; a beautiful harmony of rich colour and sweeping cinematography . Every scene just melts into the next . Particular brilliant scenes include Zihi Zhang's transformation into a Geisha , which said a thousand words with hardly any words at all . Another scene is when she performs her interpretive dance which made my spine tingle with electricity . And when she's standing on the cliff and the camera pans out . . . WOW ! ! I know I'm getting very carried away with myself right now , but I can't get over it ! This is basically how I have come to respect these types of films so much now . Words cannot describe !
But Memoirs certainly doesn't go without its flaws . Because I was so entranced by its beauty , I think my attention was drawn away from the actual storyline . I found the plot difficult to follow . I think there was a bit of an inbalance , where too much of the story was left to prior-knowledge . I had difficulty drawing links bewteen certain characters and their significance in the film and so on . It's a shame too , because the film's script is so poetic and wonderful . Of course , I had a general idea of the story , but I was lost on some of those minor yet significant nooks and crannies that bring the film full circle .
Also , I do question whether , being made by an American director , if the story's lack in continuity was because a non-Japanese filmmaker couldn't FULLY understand the deep themes of the film . I'm not trying to put down Rob Marshall , who I AM a fan of , and I think he did a great job , but I think Memoirs certainly lacked an authentic edge that Crouching Tiger for instance had .
Nevertheless , I really enjoyed Memoirs and it has really changed my opinion , and I suppose prejudice , on Asian-themed cinema . It has introduced me to a new respect for that culture completely . The score by John Williams , by the way , is wonderful as usual , so that gave it an extra bite . The storyline and its clarity falls flat . But its winning aspect is definately the art direction , costumes and cinematography , which deservingly won Oscars respectively .
Memoirs of a Geisha is a moving tale of a woman's value and how one Geisha broke conformity and not only found love , but felt it too .
119 4 This is one of the most visually beautiful films I've ever seen . I've watched it many times and it never gets old . I've also watched the DVD extras and found them interesting ( for example , how the actresses learned how to become geishas ) .
120 4 Memoirs of a Geisha is best appreciated at face value , a meticulously crafted , sumptuous visual feast that does not withstand too much editorial scrutiny . The narrator describes a geisha as a moving work of art , which is telling , because a geisha's personality is , by definition , not particularly important . In the film's most glorious scene , Sayuri's debut , we witness the poetry of Kabuki , a beautiful and fragile illusion that celebrates artifice . Another captivating scene , Chiyo's introduction to the clothes , make-up , and mannerisms that make a geisha , also reveals that image , not content , is paramount . So is it with this film .
Detractors will find much to criticize , if so inclined . For one , there are almost no Japanese cast members , thereby throwing claims of authenticity into a cocked hat . For another , the film is ostensibly powered by a love story , and at almost two-and-a-half hours one would certainly expect some sort of forceful driving theme . But Chiyo / Sayuri harbors only a schoolgirl infatuation and the contrived Hollywood ending is not at all in keeping with the film's generally dark perspective . Instead of the terrible , transformational behemoth it actually was , WWII is treated like a minor character introduced in order to drop off a plot point . These criticisms are justified , but miss the point .
Far more interesting is the depiction of geisha life itself , something almost totally other , and very unfamiliar to the Western mind . The profoundly disturbing origins are not far from slavery , we think of poor Chiyo as a little girl torn away from her fishing village . But comparisons to prostitution are misguided ; indeed , geisha life seems to celebrate all the female virtues valued by this culture except sex - grace , beauty , tact , deference , wit , talent , gentility . As Westerners in an era of feminism we are quick to condemn turning a person into a moving work of art , and we are right to do so , but geisha life is still a fascinating bit of cultural anthropology .
The performances are uniformly wonderful , characterized by splendid restraint and control . Sets , costumes , and especially cinematography are all inspired . Memoirs of a Geisha may have flaws , but if you look beyond them , it's a treat . After all , when you go to Cirque du Soleil , do you think about all the guys tugging ropes behind the stage ?
121 4 My husband and I really enjoyed this film . Beautiful and well done . Do yourself a favor . . . see this movie !
122 4 I loved the book on which it was based , but the movie got a lot of equivocal reviews , so I sat down to it with some trepidation . By and large , though , I was very happy with the film version . It's a tragic love story of almost Shakespearean cast , running from Chiyo's father selling her into the geisha trade sometimes in the late 1920s through the final attainment of Sayuri's lifelong goal - - hooking up with the Chairman - - in the late 1940s under U.S . occupation . The cinematography is truly stunning - - Japan is visually fascinating no matter who takes the pictures - - and the costuming is gorgeous . Of course , most of the Gion district of Kyoto no longer exists , but the set construction was entirely convincing . The ethereal Ziyi Zhang is first-rate as the teenage and adult protagonist ( even if she's actually Chinese ) and Suzuka Ohgo is quite winning as the anguished child . Ken Watanabe has been a superstar in Japan for years , though not well enough known here . There are numerous other Japanese , Chinese , and Korean actors well known in Asia but not in the U.S . , which makes this almost a repertory effort . ( Even Mako , veteran of more than 130 movies and television series since the early 1960s , appears in a minor role . ) Ted Levine , who plays the American colonel , had me baffled for a minute , before I realized he plays Capt . Stottlemeyer on the Monk TV series . Actually , my only ( minor ) complaint is that the early part of the film was a bit muddled because the actors ' English pronunciation was shaky ; if I hadn't known the plot already , I probably would have gotten quickly lost . Maybe they should have used subtitles in the early part of the film . After Ziyi Zhang took over the role , however , there were no problems . And finally , John Williams's score was beautiful , as almost always .
123 4 To make this review fair , I will admit that I mostly saw this movie because nothing else was playing at a convenient time . I had read the book , and enjoyed it , but to me it looked like an arts-chick flick before I saw it .
The cinematography in this movie was excellent . The costumes were beautiful , the acting superb , and the camera work elegant . It was a reasonably fair interpretation of the book , though , I kind of took the book a little bit differently than the movie-makers .
I was , surprisingly , completely enthralled by the movie for the first three quarters of it , but , eventually , the movie just started to seem too long . There were several points where I thought the movie was ending , but it never did .
Overall , this was a very good , very well made movie , but for people with short attention spans , I don't recommend it .
125 4 Memoirs is visually wonderful . The flow , colors , scenery , are like an artist's canvas or beautiful dance . The music blends it all together . The childhood tragedy and adult love story are emotional and engaging . The acting is superb . The overall effect is pleasing to eyes , ears , and emotions . I had great sympathy for the young Chiyo and her plight and saw her representative of all women who have no control over their destinies . It is also a sad tragedy to see how girls were sold into slavery to the brothels .
If you like drama , history , good story telling , wonderful visuals , and Asian culture , you'll like this movie .
Dr . Kathy Seifert , Author of
Dancing with the Aardvark : A Guided Journal for Managing Stress
126 4 This movie is a fascinating tale of a young girl who is ripped from her family with her sister and sold to a geisha house to either be a slave or sent to geisha training . When she arrives at the house her sister is rejected and then sent to the prostitution quarter instead . The girl must endure beatings from her mistress and from the jealous other geishas in the house as well as losing her sister and parents .
She fails as a geisha and is tricked by the other geisha's into damaging a kimono of her mistress and thus is made to be a slave to the mistress to pay off the damage . When she reaches her lowest level of despair , she meets an upper-class gentleman who buys her a flavored ice and gives her a handkerchief and some money . The girl treasures the handkerchief and donates the money for a prayer of a better life and one where she can be with her mysterious benefactor . With her life turned to a more positive outlook she is noticed by another mistress , who wants to borrow her to train as a geisha . Once a deal is struck the girl puts her heart into being the best geisha in all of Japan . Now her last desire to be fulfilled is to win the heart of her benefactor , who she has never stopped thinking about . The US occupation sends everything into disarray as she must hide in the countryside and give up her geisha life-style .
The movie is beautifully shot and the acting is first-rate ( most of the actors were in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and easily have made the transition away from action films to serious drama ) . My only complaint was some of the actors had very heavy accents which were difficult to understand without putting on the subtitles . Other than that it is an excellent movie .
130 4 Once again I get to review a film from an amazing novel that I knew nothing about until this film was released . I must say that everything from the story to the visuals are beautiful especially Japan's cherry blossoms and other obvious colorful scenery . One of the few problems I had with the movie was that it wasn't in its original Japanese language with English subtitles .
I have become one of those people that appreciate a foreign film especially Asian cinema much more when it is in its original language . It starts to become a little unrealistic when everyone is speaking English in Japan and you can tell that they don't speak it everyday plus there's the fact that they're in Japan . It would only be right to show some appreciation to a culture and story of this kind by letting them speak their language .
Maybe it's just me or there is something that I didn't know about the production but I just rented this movie and knew nothing of the novel . The story is very interesting because you finally get some insight on those Japanese masks with the white makeup and red lips . You get the real story of the secret life and you find out that those masks have nothing on the true geisha .
It does get a little surprising to see how it was done in those days and shocking how a geisha held power but didn't hold it all in the same . Memoirs Of A Geisha is truly a beautiful film and story as well . The acting was good but what's funny is that Suzuka Ohgo ( Young Chiyo ) and Zoe Weizenbaum ( Young Pumpkin ) do a far better job than Ziyi Zhang and Youki Kudoh . I can't give a review as someone who read the book and I know how it hurts when the film is weak compared to the book but as a regular viewer it is definitely something you cannot miss out on .
129 4 Puttng aside whether the film follows the book perfectly , or whether this is really a glimpse into the life of a geisha . . this film is beautiful , stunning and breathtaking . The story is a retake on Cindrella but more than that simple story . It is heartfelt , moving and real in many ways . Definately worth seeing and worth owning .
113 4 Learn alot about the ways of geishas very interesting and good story line too
beautiful cinematography , georgeous music and stunning costume design . A beautiful art film .
Blu-ray release presents this visually dazzling film in superb 1080p / AVC MPEG - 4 transfer . The even more captivating audio is presented in an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround . Also included are extensive list of extras .
Highly recommended !
014 4 The film : beautiful cinematography , georgeous music and stunning costume design . A beautiful art film .
Blu-ray release presents this visually dazzling film in superb 1080p / AVC MPEG - 4 transfer . The even more captivating audio is presented in an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround . Also included are extensive list of extras .
Highly recommended !
078 4 great movie colors really pop i also recommend the last samurai on blu-ray the colors and picture quality are amazing .