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05 January 2006

"Memoirs of a Geisha" from Japanese perspective

I went to see the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha." Here in Japan the title was changed to "SAYURI."

The movie was kind of strange but also very interesting.

The characters in the movie speak in English. The hairstyle of the Geishas were appearently different from real Geishas walking on the streets in Kyoto.

The story was good in first half but the latter half was kind of difficult to understand. I actually did not like the story.

Some of Japanese argue Japan portrayed in that film was too strange to see. But how many of Japanese know the old time Japan, especially the life of Geisha? How many of us know how to wear traditional kimono?

So in that sense Hollywood made the best of their efforts.

One thing I find they are better than Japanese films is the scenes of the evening party. Usually those scenes are very bright like today's party room with fluor lamps on the ceiling. That never happened in 1930's. But in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha," the room was not very bright and the Geisha's face was lit by orange paper lantern. That should be real scenes of those days, I think.

The thing I was kind of disturbed by was the main character was played by Chinese actress, Zhi Zhang. She is a great actress, but the point is the character she played might aggravate Chinese people. The story took place in 1930's Japan. It was a time Japan was invading China. The Geisha fell in love with Japanese rich man who once fought in Manchuria. Then after the war she helped him with reconstructing his business sleeping with American military man.

Today is the time the relationship between China and Japan has become worst in post-war time. It is due to our stupid prime minister and his uneducated conservative supporters.   

As one of Japanese citizen who is very aware of how apologetic Japan should be to China, I could not enjoy this movie although the Chinese actress did played that role as Hollywood actress.


Thanks for clarification. I enjoy your other perspectives. As an American I have similar views as your own. Unfortunately our politicians do not do a good job of representing Americans. I originally come from NY and I think it is a microcosim of the rest of the world. The rest of the world would like to categorize the american point of view as either this or that. With all our "freedom's" there is no real American point of view. We are more a society of individuals then a nation of one. Maybe this is our democratic voice, maybe it would be nice for the rest of the world to follow suite.

Posted by: Barry | 19 March 2006

Although I am understanding of the exceedingly Chinese characteristics of the movie, which is the equivalent of using Russian actors and movie scenes for an American cowboy movie, as an inevitable mistake due to the only superficial knowledge of foreign cultures, the display of the geisha as "loose" or freedomless women is most disguisting. The reason for this mirepresentation is due to the author, who in his book, mixes up prostitutes with the geisha. One example is the term "mizuage" which has two definitions: one referring to the taking of a young prostitute's virginity by a highest bidder; the other which has no correlation with sex but is just one of the major steps in a maiko's life to become a geisha. The geisha are, other than elite artists, status symbols who are famous for their ability to provide upbeat and intellectual company to political figures and other aristocratic individuals. Therefore, a geisha has not only a handsome income, but are constantly showered with expensive gifts from their patrons. A geisha has no need to sexual services, which is in fact, prohibited by their supervisors. I genuinely hope that the art of the geisha is not again so misrepresented to a nation as significant as the U.S.

Posted by: Jane Lee | 14 April 2006

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