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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

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

Director:

Rob Marshall

Writers:

Robin Swicord (screenplay), Arthur Golden (book)
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Popularity
2,688 ( 23)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 29 wins & 48 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Suzuka Ohgo ... Chiyo
Togo Igawa ... Tanaka
Mako ... Sakamoto
Samantha Futerman ... Satsu
Elizabeth Sung ... Sakamoto's Wife
Thomas Ikeda Thomas Ikeda ... Mr. Bekku
Li Gong ... Hatsumomo (as Gong Li)
Tsai Chin ... Auntie
Kaori Momoi ... Mother
Zoe Weizenbaum ... Young Pumpkin
David Okihiro David Okihiro ... Shamisen Teacher
Miyako Tachibana Miyako Tachibana ... Dance Teacher
Kotoko Kawamura Kotoko Kawamura ... Granny
Karl Yune ... Koichi
Eugenia Yuan ... 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

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

23 December 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Memorias de una geisha See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$85,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$682,504, 11 December 2005

Gross USA:

$57,490,508

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$162,242,962
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filmmakers decided that the Gion district of modern-day Kyoto (the Geisha district where Arthur Golden's novel is set) looked much too modern to evoke the 1920s and 30s. So, a large set of the Gion district was constructed outside of Los Angeles in Thousand Oaks, California. The detailed set had real cobblestone streets, bridges, a river, period buildings and antique props which evoked the period described in the novel. See more »

Goofs

The dance performed by Sayuri during her debut is of a dance style that was invented as a reaction to the tragedy of World War II. See more »

Quotes

Sayuri Narration: [as Chiyo watches the Chairman leave with geisha] In that moment, I changed from a girl facing nothing but emptiness, to someone with purpose. I saw that to be a geisha could be a stepping stone to something else... a place in his world.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Impossible Dreams (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Ogi No Mato (The Folding Fan as a Target)
Traditional
Performed by Ensemble Nipponia
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Top-Notch Eye Candy
24 November 2005 | by kate_lee-movieSee all my reviews

Can a group of American men and Chinese actresses render the world of a Japanese geisha? The answer is yes, with stunning beauty … and regrettable flaws.

Truth be told, this movie was not as bad as its trailer led me to expect it to be. It had a story to tell (although it crumbles in the end),images to show, and material to present. There were ample displays of exquisite beauty -- the trailing tails of silk kimonos, the subtle allure of hand gestures, and the captivating scene of kabuki dance theater ...

On the other hand, the American director was not able to pull the Japanese out of Chinese actresses. (This movie was so crowded by famous Chinese idols that I found myself inadvertently searching for Joan Chen among the cast.) To be fair, all three main actors (Gong Li in particular) show strong performances that made me sympathetic to Rob Marshall's choices. However, they remain utterly Chinese throughout this movie. The look and accent are not the only problems. They lacked the kind of extreme femininity and excessive felicity of the delicately mechanical gesture and movements of traditional Japanese ladies you see in custom dramas of Japanese production. (Michelle Yeoh seems to be the only one trying a little bit of those, but it did not quite work for some reason.)

So, let me re-address the question: Can a group of American men and Chinese actresses render the world of a geisha? The answer, I guess, really depends on what you are looking for. If you would like a little bit of delight from an aesthetically pleasing picture with a dubious authenticity and realism, this movie delivers it. I would not say Rob Marshall failed completely. Memoirs of a Geisha is not the first, nor the last, movie that subjects another culture to the crude lens of American exoticism. It definitely is not the worst one.


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