In the 1920s, 9-year-old Chiyo gets sold to a geisha house. There, she is forced into servitude, receiving nothing in return until the house's ruling hierarchy determines if she is of high enough quality to service the clientele -- men who visit and pay for conversation, dance and song. After rigorous years of training, Chiyo becomes Sayuri, a geisha of incredible beauty and influence. Life is good for Sayuri, but World War II is about to disrupt the peace. Written by
A huge silk screen was used to mask the sun during the shoot in California to create a more misty atmosphere. See more »
When Sayuri discusses the conversation between Dr. Crab and Hatsumomo with Pumpkin, Pumpkin says 'I sat outside the door, but I could still hear them,' then later in the description she says 'Then the Doctor looked queasy, like he didn't want to hear any more.' If Pumpkin was sitting outside the door, she couldn't have seen the Doctor's face. See more »
[tallying up little Chiyo's costs, after her fall]
Doctor Mora is very expensive. You seem to be racking up quite a debt. Kimono, destroyed. Train ticket, Mr. Bekku, rice and pickles, geisha school, and on top of the money I paid Mr. Tanaka. And for what?... And now I hear your sister has run away. She didn't wait for you and now she can never come back. You must forget you ever had a sister.
[handing her a bundled package]
We are your only family now.
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Lavish cinematography means 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is never anything less than visually beautiful, and it's hard to think of how any other movie could beat it to an Oscar in this department come March next year. However, the true merit of the film lies in the fact that its sumptuous style does not outweigh substance, something particularly thankful given that such an imbalance was so unfortunately true of House of Flying Daggers, the last major release to star Ziyi Zhang. Instead, the truly enchanting performance of 12-year old Suzaka Oghu, who plays the young Sayuri for the first half hour, ensures attention is captured within her character's story for the rest of the drama. This allows the script to remain pleasingly understated, and also means the unlikely nature of the romance can be overlooked.
The hibernation that the story withdraws into during the wartime years could so easily have been damaging, but in the event the portrayal of how the post-war influx of American troops corrupted Japan's ancient traditions is just as excellent as the rest of the film.
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