Arthur Golden's blockbuster bestseller, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, has been brilliantly brought to the big screen by Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall (CHICAGO). The film opens in a remote Japanese fishing village in 1929, where two sisters, Chiyo and Satsu, are sold by their troubled father to people who place Chiyo in a classy geisha house known as an okiya in Gion and Satsu in a much more vulgar and dangerous district. Chiyo becomes a maid to Hatsumomo, a cold, controlling, and calculating geisha who is instantly jealous of Chiyo's unusual, beautiful eyes and childish innocence. Chiyo is befriended by Pumpkin, another maid at the okiya, but the two are soon driven apart. Chiyo is shown compassion by the Chairman and another, more successful geisha, Mameha, who takes her under her wing as her "little sister," furthering the battle between Chiyo, now called Sayuri, and Hatsumomo. As Sayuri is trained in the art of being a geisha, learning how to walk, talk, dance, and serve (up to a point) in order to please and honor her distinguished male clients, World War II looms on the horizon, threatening to upend Japan and its old ways.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is a lush, sweeping historical and romantic epic, featuring gorgeous period costumes, primarily the exquisite kimono worn by the geisha. Ziyi Zhang (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) is outstanding as Sayuri, who stands up to the oppressive Hatsumomo (the effervescent Gong Li), while Michelle Yeoh, who starred with Zhang in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, is splendid as the wise and elegant Mameha. Ken Watanabe (THE LAST SAMURAI), Koji Yakusho (SHALL WE DANCE?), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (ELEKTRA) are among the men who take an interest in Sayuri, who is continually faced with difficult choices that will shape her destiny, just as Japan's destiny is changing shape with the coming of the West. John Williams's soaring score is enhanced by solos from virtuosos Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.
Academy Awards Best Cinematography 2005 Dion Beebe DOP