Memoirs of a Geisha

DVD Reviews | Apr 2nd, 2006

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Starring Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Kji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh, Kaori Momoi
Written By:
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Studio: Sony
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Academy Award nominated film that takes you through a life of a geisha when the world was different. Japan was far less modernized than it is now, and with that came great honor to serve as Geisha’s. These ladies would go through significant training and would be some of the most sought after ladies in 1930’s Japan. Chiyo (Zhang) has a remarkable story how she came into the Geisha lifestyle. With that comes danger, hardship, romance, and respectability. Memoirs of a Geisha is a visually stunning film and a great story.

Chiyo was just 9 years old when taken from her home in Japan. Sold into slavery, Chiyo and her sister are taken away and sold to separate geisha houses. There, she must slave over the owners of the house and head Geisha, Hatsumomo. Cruel treatment is endured by Chiyo and even more resentment as jealously abounds from Chiyo’s beauty from head Geisha, Hatsumomo. Luckily, rival of Hatsumomo, Mameha does not let Chiyo stay in that situation too long. Mameha, played by Michelle Yeoh, undertakes Chiyo as her apprentice, and renames her Sayuri. This is no small task. Geishas were eloquent ladies of their time, and continue that tradition today. Chiyo now Sayuri would learn all there is to know about being a geisha. Skills learned would be social and artistic and that would be useful when dealing with people in public and at home. From the tasks of getting dressed in the kimonos, which could take an hour, to applying their makeup, to even walking in their shoes, these are things that Geishas would have to prepare each day. Hey, I couldn’t do it. As most Geisha, Sayuri would have to go out and entertain men, and eventually pick clients. This could mean dancing for them, playing the guitar, serving drinks, and even more after hour’s activities depending on the company. Sayuri secretly falls for The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) who is sought after by many of the rival geisha’s. Her love for him is against what the geisha’s stand for because they are not supposed to long for people. It should be the other way around. They are considered a piece of property, and usually have bids for them like an auction. Sayuri builds the confidence of a gorgeous woman and you can see her strength grow as the film progress, even with the World War starting in Japan in the late 1930’s. During that time, Sayuri must give up everything as a geisha and go into a working lifestyle, living a poor life and just getting by with her work wages. One thing that doesn’t change is her love for The Chairman who has helped her out for years now, including her escape of the bombings in her city. Love like that doesn’t happen all the time, and both of them know it. For Sayuri, her life as a geisha continues again and so does her relationship with The Chairman.

There are some outstanding featurettes on this 2 disc version of the movie. Featuring over 11 featurettes the viewer gets a great look into how the film was prepared from the book to the film, to the look of a geisha, and to the music which is amazing by the works of John Williams, Yo Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman. Every aspect of the film is covered and you get a great sense of how much hard work was put into the film and trying to make it as accurate as possible.

I found the story of Memoirs of a Geisha to be fascinating because it is a part of history, though this may not be factual information, this type of lifestyles exists and did exist back then. All the actors turned in beautiful performances, and the sets were excellent. Visually everything was beautiful as well. It really helped capture the entire experience and made it very enjoyable to watch.

-11 Behind the Scenes Featurettes:
-The Look of a Geisha
-The Music of the Film
– Geisha Bootcamp
– A Geisha’s Dance
-Director Rob Marshall and co-producer John DeLuca Audio Commentary
-Production Audio Commentary (Costume Designer, Production Designer, Editor)

-ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
-FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

-Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)
-Standard 1.33:1 Color

English, French

Favorite Scenes: Becoming a Geisha, World War II, Garden Meeting
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 145 minutes
Extras Rating:
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