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Memoirs of Geisha

Japanese movie review: Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical romance and drama movie that peeks into the mysterious and shrouded world of geisha. It’s based on a novel by Arthur Golden, who conducted interviews with a former geisha in attempts to be as historically accurate as possible. Despite his good intentions and best efforts, the novel—and subsequently film—does still have a number of inaccuracies. However, putting all of that aside, I think it’s a wonderful film, with a moving story that’s paced just right. Plus! I think it’s simply gorgeous, with beautiful and colourful cinematography and intuitive direction. Check out my memoirs of a geisha review to find out more.


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The film follows Chiyo who is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto as a young girl, where she begins her journey to become a geisha. We learn a little bit about what life was like in that period and we get a rough idea of how geisha houses operate—from finances to hierarchy and more.

Initially against the idea of becoming a geisha (wanting her own freedom), Chiyo meets and falls in love with a man (played by the oh so charming Ken Watanabe), accompanied by two geishas. She becomes determined to become a geisha, so as to be by his side someday. This is the backdrop of the film, against which are the lives of geishas, rivalries between geishas, and struggles and challenges geishas face during and after the war. If you can get past the uncomfortable fact that Chiyo is but a young girl when she meets her love interest, presumably a few decades older than her, then you’ll enjoy this film and the world it takes place in.

Above everything else, I think its cinematography is just beautiful. Memoirs of a Geisha won Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards, along with Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Even just a few minutes into the film and you’ll see why—Japan is a beautiful country, and geishas are beautiful women, but all the more so in this film.

Simply gorgeous!

I’m honestly not a fan of the drama genre, but this film—its beautiful shots and moving script—is the exception. I can’t recommend it enough. Just remember that it’s a film, not a documentary. It’s not meant to educate but to entertain, to captivate you with a story and to make you feel for its characters. So take all the information regarding geishas with a pinch of salt. It’s not always correct, but hell it makes for a great movie.

Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical romance and drama set that peeks into the mysterious and shrouded world of geisha. It’s based on a novel by Arthur Golden, who conducted interviews with a former geisha in attempts to be as historically accurate as possible. Despite his good intentions and best efforts, the novel—and subsequently film—does still have a number of inaccuracies. However, putting all of that aside, I think it’s a wonderful film, with a moving story that’s paced just right. Plus! I think it’s simply gorgeous, with beautiful and colourful cinematography and intuitive direction. 

The film follows Chiyo who is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto as a young girl, where she begins her journey to become a geisha. We learn a little bit about what life was like in that period and we get a rough idea of how geisha houses operate—from finances to hierarchy and more. 

Initially against the idea of becoming a geisha (wanting her own freedom), Chiyo meets and falls in love with a man (played by the oh so charming Ken Watanabe), accompanied by two geishas. She becomes determined to become a geisha, so as to be by his side someday. This is the backdrop of the film, against which are the lives of geishas, rivalries between geishas, and struggles and challenges geishas face during and after the war. If you can get past the uncomfortable fact that Chiyo is but a young girl when she meets her love interest, presumably a few decades older than her, then you’ll enjoy this film and the world it takes place in. 

Above everything else, I think its cinematography is just beautiful. Memoirs of a Geisha won Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards, along with Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Even just a few minutes into the film and you’ll see why—Japan is a beautiful country, and geishas are beautiful women, but all the more so in this film.

Simply gorgeous!

I’m honestly not a fan of the drama genre, but this film—its beautiful shots and moving script—is the exception. I can’t recommend it enough. Just remember that it’s a film, not a documentary. It’s not meant to educate but to entertain, to captivate you with a story and to make you feel for its characters. So take all the information regarding geishas with a pinch of salt. It’s not always correct, but hell it makes for a great movie. 

Hope this Memoirs of a Geisha review can help you decided whether or not this should be on your list of movies to watch.

Runtime: 2 hours 25 minutes

Language: English

Director: Rob Marshall, also director of Chicago (2002) and Into the Woods (2014)

Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li, Ken Watanabe, Kōji Yakusho

Recommended for: Anyone. Everyone.

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FLIP GUIDE TEAM

Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

 

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