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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 23 December 2005 (USA)
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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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2,403 ( 88)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Tanaka
...
Sakamoto
...
...
Sakamoto's Wife
Thomas Ikeda ...
Mr. Bekku
...
Hatsumomo (as Gong Li)
...
...
...
Young Pumpkin
David Okihiro ...
Shamisen Teacher
Miyako Tachibana ...
Dance Teacher
Kotoko Kawamura ...
...
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

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:

|

Release Date:

23 December 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Memorias de una geisha  »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In defense of the film after the controversial casting, Zhang spoke: "A director is only interested in casting someone he believes is appropriate for a role. For instance, my character had to go from age 15 to 35; she had to be able to dance, and she had to be able to act, so he needed someone who could do all that. I also think that regardless of whether someone is Japanese or Chinese or Korean, we all would have had to learn what it is to be a geisha, because almost nobody today knows what that means, not even the Japanese actors on the film. Geisha was not meant to be a documentary. I remember seeing in the Chinese newspaper a piece that said we had only spent six weeks to learn everything and that that was not respectful toward the culture. It's like saying that if you're playing a mugger, you have to rob a certain number of people. To my mind, what this issue is all about, though, is the intense historical problems between China and Japan. The whole subject is a land mine. Maybe one of the reasons people made such a fuss about Geisha was that they were looking for a way to vent their anger". See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

The Baron: [while forcefully undressing Sayuri] Sayuri, I'm only having a look. Any man would do the same.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Notes on Craft: Structure (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Midare
Written by Kengyo Yatsuhashi
Performed by Zumi-Kai Original Instrumental Group
Courtesy of Delta Entertainment Corporation
Under license from Bescol, Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Duel in the Rising Sun
13 December 2005 | by 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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