Memoirs of a Geisha
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.
Though the most heart wrenching details of “Memoirs” were edited from the film, the subject matter itself denotes that this film cannot help but contain material that is not family-friendly. I had a couple of friends who hadn’t read the best-selling novel attend the film with me. I was afraid I would be somewhat biased against it by my love for the book. It seems that one is always hard-pressed to quickly name novels that have been done justice by the films based on them; but, as it turns out, “Memoirs of a Geisha” does a fine job of interpreting the novel. I emphasize ” interpreting” because it would be impossible to include all the details that make the story of a young girl sold into the life of a Geisha in any less time than a mini-series. Instead, this is a film that plucks out the most poignant of the novel’s circumstances and weaves them together in such a manner that one does not feel as if the screenwriter left entire chapters out. “Memoirs,” the film, does not ruin “Memoirs” the novel and, I dare say, acts somewhat as a catalyst into a deeper reading of the book itself. The cinematography was breathtaking and gave life to what can only be imagined while reading the book.