During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.
In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history. Written by
Spoiler: When Okaa-san says she wants to adopt Sayuri, which provokes Hatsumomo's anger, Okaa-san's cigarette keeps changing its own size, being at times totally consumed, and sometimes not. See more »
I lived in Japan for 3 years and I loved the book, rich with visual imagery. I went to the see the movie with a good deal of trepidation, convinced that they were going to butcher it and sex it up to appeal to American audiences. Instead I sat spellbound in my seat as I watched the images that Arthur Golden has created in my mind with words years before, play themselves out on the screen in front of me. Every shot, ever scene, every tiny detail was just beautiful. I literally did not look away from the screen the entire time. The acting wasn't spectacular. I think they could have found somebody better to play Sayuri. The children were all wonderful. The stand-out actress by far was Gong Li as Hatsumomo. The villain had the best opportunities to show her skills as a thespian. The plot stuck very closely to the book. They eliminated the scenes that they needed to in the interest of time, but they didn't try to take any shortcuts or speed up the plot. I really felt like the story was played out beginning to end without sacrificing any of the meat. You'll read a lot of reviews in the coming weeks praising the gorgeous photography. Every word is true. Words like "lush" and "exquisite" only begin to do it justice. I've never had the experience of being transported to another time by a movie in quite this way.
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