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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 114,872 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
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Did You Know?


Ziyi Zhang was allergic to the contact lenses that she had to wear for her role as Sayuri. See more »


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 »


Sayuri Nitta: [to Nobu] What is sumo but a dance between giants? What is business but a dance between companies? I would like to know about every kind of dance.
See more »


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


Spring Dance
Written by Masakazu Yoshizawa
Performed by Masakazu Yoshizawa and Hiromi Hashibe
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

10 December 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Arthur Golden's novel "Memoirs of a Geisha" deserved a better fate. This immensely satisfying book got a tepid adaptation by Robin Swicord and Doug Wright, and it begs for a better screen play than what was chosen to be shown on the screen. Director Bob Marshall's next venture after his successful and popular "Chicago" seemed, at least on paper, like the right candidate to be in command of the film version of the book, but what he has created seems to have become an oriental soap opera, at best.

The story is narrated in the first person by Sayuri who has been sold by their impoverished father. The novel is a chronicle of how Sayuri learns to become a geisha and her rivalry with the queen of them all, Hatsumomo. Also it is about the relationship between Suyuri and the Chairman. Hatsumomo's competition is the beautiful Mameha, who takes Suyuri under her wing and shows her the ropes. The Chairman and Nobu are the men in and out of this story who change Suyuri's life for the best.

The casting of Ziyi Zhang as Suyuri doesn't pay off. Ms. Zhang is a beautiful creature to look at, but in this film, her acting appears to be empty, in sharp contrast with her appearance in "2046". Gong Li, another beautiful woman, appears in all her fury to challenge her position as the queen that she has always been when Sayuri comes on her own. She is a caricature of the character that she is trying to portray, no doubt guided by the director, in a performance that seems campy in its flavor. Michelle Yeoh, Ken Watanabe and Koji Yakusho do what they can in a film where the center of attraction are Ms. Zhang and Ms. Li.

The basic flaw of the film is the dialogue that feels so foreign it might have been written in another language. The different accents of the cast doesn't help matters because they speak in a sort of British English that is a distraction. The wonderful costumes are by Colleen Atwood who dresses the women in silks and makes them look fantastic. The cinematography of Dion Beebe is an asset too. The haunting musical score is by John Williams, a man who knows how to enhance a film with the right sounds.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" under the direction of Rob Marshall is a spectacle directed to fans of the book, who will surely flock to see the film, but alas, they will not find the essence of Mr. Golden's novel in the finished product.

110 of 205 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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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
Chinese and Japanese theNakedtruth96
who do you think is more beautiful? black_blizzzzard
Is this movie worth watching at all? cadademon
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