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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 23 December 2005 (USA)
Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.

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(screenplay), (book)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 26 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

geisha | japan | jealousy | woman | 1920s | See All (44) »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

23 December 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Memorias de una geisha  »

Box Office

Budget:

$85,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$57,010,853 (USA) (10 March 2006)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The three leading non-Japanese actresses, including Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh, were put through a six-week crash course on geisha culture through a "geisha boot camp" before production commenced, during which they were trained in traditional geisha practices of musicianship, dance, and tea ceremony. See more »

Goofs

After her first encounter with the Chairman, Chiyo is shown running from the hanamachi of Gion, through the red Torii gate trails of Fushimi Inari to a shrine where she gives coins as an offering. In reality, not only is Fushimi Inari several miles from Gion, and therefore an inconceivable location for a small girl to make a round trip to on foot, its gates form a circuitous path on the side of a mountain and do not lead anywhere outside the shrine itself. See more »

Quotes

Sayuri Narration: [while little Chiyo is on the train to the hanamachi] My mother always said my sister, Satsu was like wood. As rooted to the earth as a sakura tree... But she told me I was like water... Water can carve its way through stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path.
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Connections

Referenced in Impossible Dreams (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Ginza No Yanagi
(1932)
Music by Shinpei Nakayama (as Shimpei Nakayama)
Lyrics by Yaso Saijô
Performed by Fumiko Yotsuya
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Duel in the Rising Sun
13 December 2005 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Looking over previous comments here, it is clear that this is a very polarizing movie experience, one that seems to put "Syriana" to shame in that realm. Director Rob Marshall has taken a best selling novel and turned out a feature film that it appears some people love and some absolutely hate. Count me in the first category, but allow me to indulge the critics, too.

First, this isn't a typical Hollywood film. Despite popular western misconceptions about Geishas, there's no sex, almost no violence and beyond that, there's nearly two and a half hours of women's problems that many men may find hard to relate to. This is not "Desperate Housewives" or even "All my Children." This is about deceit, treachery and rivalries as much as it is about a little girl who gets sold into bondage by her impoverished Japanese family. Its also about a lifelong search for love in a society in which people apparently can't just step up and make frank declarations of devotion to one another. This movie is in a word "complicated" and that is going to turn some American movie goers off.

But not all Asian film fans are raving about this movie either, some thinking it is a very superficial look at Japnese customs and others incensed that a movie that's about an important Japanese tradition should star three Chinese actresses. I cannot comment on either topic, since I know little or nothing about Japanese tradition and I don't know why Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yoeh and Gong Li were cast. They have been seen before by American audiences, but are hardly film stars in this country, so it wasn't as if they were going to draw in tons of fans on their names alone.

The only thing I can think of is, all three are fine actresses and they more than proved that in this film. If Gong Li does not get a best supporting actress nomination, there's no justice. And Zhang should probably get a crack at best actress for her work, as well.

All three just light up the screen.

But, I can understand in this age of political correctness, how some would be offended by the casting and how others might complain about the handling of the Japanese subject matter.

All I can say is, movie makers face trade offs and one is either targeting your film to a mass audience (and in America, that means a generally poorly educated audience) or "narrow casting" your film to people very well acquainted with the topic who will swoop down on any flaw. But that, when dealing with a topic like Japanese geisha culture, is a pretty small audience in America, too small to generate the kind of box office a film like this needs to pull in to pay for itself. From a purely Anglo, American, unschooled in Japanese culture standpoint, I think Marshall made good decisions. I hope he has not slighted Japanese culture too much, but I think he has made a suspenseful, captivating, enchanting film that does something a lot of films haven't in recent years.

He gave us a complex central character we can pull for throughout the film and for that, I thank him.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" ranks among my five best films of the year thus far, and deserves a best picture nomination.


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