AFTER being on shelves for over five years, Arthur Golden’s international bestseller, Memoirs of a Geisha, has hit the big screen, proving to be one of the few films that bring justice to its novel counterpart.

Memoirs tells of the story of a province girl named Chiyo (later renamed as Sayuri) who is sold by her father to an okiya where she trains to be a geisha. Not wanting that kind of life at first, she tries to escape. But, after seeing the Chairman, for whom she develops much admiration and respect, she gives in, and with her undeniable beauty and her drive for love, she struggles to become the best geisha of her time.

It may seem difficult at first to accept the fact that Chinese movie stars portrayed the Japanese characters in a Japanese tale, with Zhang Ziyi as Sayuri, Michelle Yeoh as Mameha, Sayuri’s “big sister” geisha, and Gong Li as Hatsumomo, Sayuri’s greatest rival. However, together with the lone Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, the actors are an effective ensemble, complementing each other’s personalities.

However, one flaw in the film is the somehow perplexing depiction of the details between the sequences of events. Not considering the possibility that moviegoers have not read the novel, director Rob Marshall failed to explain details in the story well, like the part where clients are bidding for Sayuri’s mizuage (virginity). It is not clear at first what exactly they are bidding for, and one can conclude only after seeing a ritual that would represent the first time Sayuri will experience sex.

Alumnus, pinarangalan

Despite this setback, it is worthy to note that the movie is still truthful to the book. The mood of the story in the novel is well-captured in the film, revealing an effective representation of the life of geishas during the 1940s. The customs and rituals found within Japanese culture were executed with irrefutable accuracy, like the scene where Sayuri and Mameha performs a dance accompanied by a shamisen (Japanese string instrument) in front of their clients, as well as the tea ceremony done between geishas and their patrons.

Regardless of the movie’s flaws, the film can still be considered as one of the better films shown so far this year. Being truthful to the storyline, however sensational it might seem, as some experts claim, the film is able to depict how the author would probably have wanted it to be—beautiful and enchanting. Anne Nerissa C. Alina


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.