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
The film was heavily criticized by Asian critics for having Chinese actresses portraying the geishas. In reality, according to producer Lucy Fisher, the producers held an open day for audition for Japanese actresses to audition for those roles. None turned up and they had to turn to other Asian actresses for casting. See more »
When Mameha cuts Sayuri's leg, during the dialogue Sayuri has a red ribbon and a pink comb in her hair. The pink comb disappears and reappears throughout the shots. See more »
[with Chiyo, folding kimonos]
Only reason Mother tolerates Hatsumomo is because she brings in good money. Never forget, it is Hatsumomo who pays for your supper, the clothes on your back. By the time she was twenty, she had already earned back her purchase price. Unheard of! She has been the talk of the hanamachi ever since.
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Lavish cinematography means 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is never anything less than visually beautiful, and it's hard to think of how any other movie could beat it to an Oscar in this department come March next year. However, the true merit of the film lies in the fact that its sumptuous style does not outweigh substance, something particularly thankful given that such an imbalance was so unfortunately true of House of Flying Daggers, the last major release to star Ziyi Zhang. Instead, the truly enchanting performance of 12-year old Suzaka Oghu, who plays the young Sayuri for the first half hour, ensures attention is captured within her character's story for the rest of the drama. This allows the script to remain pleasingly understated, and also means the unlikely nature of the romance can be overlooked.
The hibernation that the story withdraws into during the wartime years could so easily have been damaging, but in the event the portrayal of how the post-war influx of American troops corrupted Japan's ancient traditions is just as excellent as the rest of the film.
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