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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  23 December 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 114,880 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 543 user | 233 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.



(screenplay), (book)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 36 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Ikeda ...
Hatsumomo (as Gong Li)
David Okihiro ...
Shamisen Teacher
Miyako Tachibana ...
Dance Teacher
Kotoko Kawamura ...


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 dumpster_cakes

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 December 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Memorias de una geisha  »

Box Office


$85,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$682,504 (USA) (9 December 2005)


$213,303 (South Africa) (26 May 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Youki Kudoh revealed in an interview that her grandmother had suffered much heartache when her husband took a Geisha as a mistress during their marriage. See more »


When Chiyo's virginity is discussed, you can see Mother smoke cigarettes (in a holder). During the scene the length of the cigarette varies. See more »


Hatsumomo: I was a maiko once.
Sayuri Nitta: Oh, of course. But that was a long, long, long, *long* time ago.
See more »


Referenced in Tetsuko no heya 30nen special (2005) See more »


Tiger Rag
Music by Henry Ragas (as H.W. Ragas), Nick LaRocca (as D.J. La Rocca), Larry Shields (as L. Shields),
Tony Sbarbaro (as A. Sbarbaro), and Edwin B. Edwards (as E.B. Edwards)
Lyrics by Harry DeCosta (as Harry Da Costa)
Performed by Tadaharu Nakano & Columbia Nakano Rhythm Boys
Courtesy of Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The best film I've seen all year, and I've seen some great films.
14 December 2005 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

This is the most unfairly maligned film of the year. Some critics took it upon themselves to be the defenders of Japanese culture (without fully researching their arguments) and, in the process, betrayed their own racism. "The film is inauthentic because the actresses do not wear matronly bouffants," one said. Riiiiiight. Matronly bouffants are a Western stereotype! But in any case, some of them do and some don't! THAT'S authenticity. I guess critics wouldn't know that writing reviews without seeing the film or walking out long before it's over (some, such as Jeff Wells, do).

Anyway, it's a fantastic film and more than deserving of multiple Academy award nominations - which it may not get thanks to the fact that so many people decided they wanted to use the film as the sacrificial lamb for a half-baked debate about international politics, rather consider that pan-Asian casting for major roles is NOTHING new (it's true of House of Flying Daggers, The Joy Luck Club and even Crouching Tiger) and that this film's production might represent international cooperation at its best.

Look out for Gong Li and Youki Kudoh in RICHLY developed supporting roles. The supporting males, while obviously not as well developed since they spend less time in the geisha quarters, still give incredible performances. Ken Watanabe was excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the performance of the actor playing Nobu. Oprah is right about the sets and costumes; they (amongst other things) make you want to savor every moment of the film. Some people have argued that the brilliant colors make it seem like some sort of Orientalist fantasy. Truth is that this would only be the case if we saw a departure from a more sedate West to a flamboyant East; instead, the film opens in a rather sedate part of Japan and then takes us to the more colorful geisha district (which introduces this fascinating paradox of great suffering in a milieu of tremendous beauty). We know from Chicago that it's simply Rob Marshall's aesthetic to make everything the height of beauty, even if it's a slum. God forbid ENTERTAINMENT CIRCLES should be presented as visually spectacular! The film is by turns funny, moving and, yes, thrilling. Gasps in the audience for the film's third act gave way to sniffles. Ziyi Zhang really managed any language difficulties well; her face has this ripple effect when she's emoting. It's stunning to behold. If I were voting for the Oscars, I'd definitely give her a nomination at the very least. And homegirl can dance, too! Her performance and the film itself are not boring at all; audience members laughed when she was trying to be funny and sighed when she was suffering. IMO, too much happens in the film for it to get boring; there's a strong balance between the rivalries, the details about geisha entertainment and the romance. In the final scene, it all comes full circle. I won't tell you how. See for yourself.

My #1 film of the year. Brokeback Mountain, Chronicles of Narnia, Howl's Moving Castle, King Kong and Grizzly Man aren't far behind.

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quick question on the book and similar films to this? midi_1234
culturally clueless film based off a culturally clueless book. chrisl84notpia
I pitied Hatsumomo. Rowan222
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