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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.

Director:

Rob Marshall

Writers:

Robin Swicord (screenplay), Arthur Golden (book)
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Popularity
2,230 ( 398)
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 film was banned in China because Chinese actresses play Japanese geisha. The national film board and the Office for the Administration of Radio, Film and Television claimed that it was banned because the storyline is "too sensitive". See more »

Goofs

When Chiyo/Sayuri and Pumpkin are listening on Mrs. Nitta and Mameha's discussion of Chiyo's future, and the camera zooms in on the girls' eyes peering through the crack in the door, Chiyo's eyes move very fast and you can clearly see Chiyo's blue contact, since it does not move with the rest of her eye. See more »

Quotes

Mameha: [while teaching Sayuri] You cannot call yourself a truse geisha until you can stop a man in his tracks with a single look.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Once Upon a Queen (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The best film I've seen all year, and I've seen some great films.
14 December 2005 | by Nazimova23See all my reviews

This is the most unfairly maligned film of the year. Some critics took it upon themselves to be the defenders of Japanese culture (without fully researching their arguments) and, in the process, betrayed their own racism. "The film is inauthentic because the actresses do not wear matronly bouffants," one said. Riiiiiight. Matronly bouffants are a Western stereotype! But in any case, some of them do and some don't! THAT'S authenticity. I guess critics wouldn't know that writing reviews without seeing the film or walking out long before it's over (some, such as Jeff Wells, do).

Anyway, it's a fantastic film and more than deserving of multiple Academy award nominations - which it may not get thanks to the fact that so many people decided they wanted to use the film as the sacrificial lamb for a half-baked debate about international politics, rather consider that pan-Asian casting for major roles is NOTHING new (it's true of House of Flying Daggers, The Joy Luck Club and even Crouching Tiger) and that this film's production might represent international cooperation at its best.

Look out for Gong Li and Youki Kudoh in RICHLY developed supporting roles. The supporting males, while obviously not as well developed since they spend less time in the geisha quarters, still give incredible performances. Ken Watanabe was excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the performance of the actor playing Nobu. Oprah is right about the sets and costumes; they (amongst other things) make you want to savor every moment of the film. Some people have argued that the brilliant colors make it seem like some sort of Orientalist fantasy. Truth is that this would only be the case if we saw a departure from a more sedate West to a flamboyant East; instead, the film opens in a rather sedate part of Japan and then takes us to the more colorful geisha district (which introduces this fascinating paradox of great suffering in a milieu of tremendous beauty). We know from Chicago that it's simply Rob Marshall's aesthetic to make everything the height of beauty, even if it's a slum. God forbid ENTERTAINMENT CIRCLES should be presented as visually spectacular! The film is by turns funny, moving and, yes, thrilling. Gasps in the audience for the film's third act gave way to sniffles. Ziyi Zhang really managed any language difficulties well; her face has this ripple effect when she's emoting. It's stunning to behold. If I were voting for the Oscars, I'd definitely give her a nomination at the very least. And homegirl can dance, too! Her performance and the film itself are not boring at all; audience members laughed when she was trying to be funny and sighed when she was suffering. IMO, too much happens in the film for it to get boring; there's a strong balance between the rivalries, the details about geisha entertainment and the romance. In the final scene, it all comes full circle. I won't tell you how. See for yourself.

My #1 film of the year. Brokeback Mountain, Chronicles of Narnia, Howl's Moving Castle, King Kong and Grizzly Man aren't far behind.


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