Thursday, 5 February 2009

Memoirs of a Geisha -Film Review

Remember, Chiyo, geisha are not courtesans. And we are not wives. We sell our skills, not our bodies. We create another secret world, a place only of beauty. The very word "geisha" means artist and to be a geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art.

Director - Rob Marshall
Written by - Robin Swicord, Arthur Golden (novel)

Memoirs of a Geisha is a beautiful, but painful story of a young Japanese girl who is separated from her family and sold to a geisha house as her mother is sick and her father cannot look after her. Told from the point of view of Chiyo, we see her introduction to the world of the geisha, and her transformation into becoming Sayuri, one of the most renowned geisha in the country. Throughout the film we see her growing up and attempting to rebel, but eventually choosing to become a geisha in order to win the heart of the man she loves, but cannot have. It is a beautiful bitter-sweet love story which you will not forget easily!

It is one of those rare films that really does justice to the novel that it's based on. Shortly after reading the novel, I watched this film and not only did it keep close to the original story, it brought life to it. The film is visually stunning - the geisha world is described so vividly in the book and the film captures that so wonderfully. The costumes look rich and authentic, and the film is full of colour and deep, well crafted scenery. In fact, the film actually won three oscars - Best achievement in Costume Design, Best achievement in Cinematography and Best achievement in Art Direction. The filming style combines the grittiness of Chiyo's childhood, and the glamourous world of the geisha. It's easy to see why Chiyo is seduced into becoming a geisha, and we grow with her throughout the story as it is told entirely from her point of view.
The author, and the film crew, have clearly researched very well into the culture and history of the film period that they are portraying, and have successfully created an authentic world in which their characters inhabit. This is refreshing as there have been many manga and anime releases which have focussed on traditional Japanese culture, but this film seems to delve even deeper.

The music from the film complements it very well - it combines traditional Japanese music with orchestral scores which capture the atmosphere of Japan, but also creates a magical and sensual world emphasising the world of the geisha. While the story in the film and novel are fictional, what I love most about them both is that they are well researched and closely based on the true world of pre-war Japanese culture, where geisha truely existed.

I really would recommend seeing this film as it really has such a beautiful story and filming style as well.

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