Sold by her family, nine year-old Chyio (Ohgo) is taken to
Kyoto's Gion district to serve in a Geisha house. Hated by the head geisha
of the house Hatsumomo (Gong-Li) because of her blossoming beauty and stunning
blue eyes, her life is made a misery until she rescued by Hatsumomo's bitter
rival Mameha (Yeoh). Under her tutelage, Chyio trains in artist and social
skills to emerge as Kyoto's most celebrated debutant geisha under her new
name, Sayuri (Zhang).
After Oscar winning success with the big screen version of
'Chicago', director Rob Marshall's second foray into the world of cinema
is just as big a scale.
Based on the award-winning novel by Arthur Golden, 'Memoirs
of a Geisha's' journey to the silver screen has been a very long one. Originally
to be directed by Steven Spielberg, who is now the executive producer, the
project was handed to Marshall after his award winning triumphs with his
musical adaptation and he brings his visual flare and sense of theatre to
this tale from the orient.
Beginning in 1929, the story of girl who became the most famous
Geisha in Japan is made all the more endearing by the presence of an all-Asian
cast. Rob Marshall and his team have gathered together some of the finest
talents that the region has to offer to bring the story to life on the silver
screen. Ziyi Zhang makes her English-speaking debut as the older Chyio who
blossoms into Sayuri. No stranger to the historical epic, after starring
in renowned Asian hits like 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Hero' and
'House of Flying Daggers', Ziyi Zhang grasps her chance to reveal herself
to the English speaking audience with great aplomb. This is a role that
will finally make Hollywood take note of her acting as well as her physical
talents, giving her the chance to audition for roles other than martial
Her support is equally as good. Michelle Yeoh also gets a
chance to show that there is more to her acting talents than martial arts.
As Mameha, she has the chance to be a mentor figure to Chyio as the world
of the Geisha is reveal to her student. This is a role that the actress
excels in, proving again that she is a remarkable talent. Ken Watanabe brings
some class to the production as the Chairman. He is the man that Chyio longs
to be with but is bound by honour to his war comrade, who is enchanted by
the beautiful geisha. This is a role that Watanabe gets to display his leading
man qualities and show why he is such a star in Japan. Gong-Li plays the
stunningly beautiful Hatsumomo and really seems to have fun been the jealous
and vindictive geisha who just wants to ruin Chyio's life. This is a role
that she really gives everything, throwing herself into the character to
create someone you really do end up hating.
'Memoirs of a Geisha' is a stunningly beautiful film. Every
single frame is sumptuous to behold, a visual feast for the eye but production
design doesn't make a movie. The performances of cast compliment the lush
setting but it is the story itself that lets the film down. While the introduction
to the world of the Geisha is a fascinating one, it is the love story that
lets the film down. The whole plotline is extremely predictable, as it flows
to its inevitable conclusion with no great surprises. This subdues the epic
scale of the piece substantially making this just a good romance and not
an enduring one.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented well, highlighting the stunning visuals.
Director Rob Marshall and co-producer/choreographer John Deluca talk about
bringing the novel to the silver screen. The pair reveals the two-year
process of adapting the novel and creating the Japanese era on which this
was set. They talk about filming in Japan and recreating the era in sets.
The pair also reveal the amount of research and preparation both they
and the actors had to go through. This is a chatty and informative commentary
that fans of the film will enjoy.
Sayuri's Journey: From Novel to Screen (14.28 mins)
Director Rob Marshall, author Arthur Golden, screenwriter Robin Swincord
and producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher talk about the impact of the
novel and adapting for the silver screen. They revel the impact of the
book and the author talks about how he researched and wrote the story,
highlighting the number of drafts and changes it when through over the
writing period. They then talk about the adaptation, revealing the changes
and compromises they had to take, bringing it to the big screen.
Geisha Boot Camp (12.06 mins)
Director Rob Marshall, producer Douglas Wick, executive producer Patricia
Whitcher, co-producer/choreographer John Deluca and stars Ziyi Zhang,
Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh and Zoe Weizbaum talk about the preproduction preparation
the actors had to go through for the film. This includes behind the scenes
footage of dance, movement, dress, music and tea serving training.
The Look of a Geisha (16.21 mins)
Director Rob Marshall, geisha consultant Lisa Dalby, makeup designer Nariko
Watanabe, costume designer Colleen Atwood and stars Ziyi Zhang, Michelle
Yeoh, Ken Watanabe, Lyndell Quiyou, Youki Kudih and Zoe Weizbaum talk
about taking come artistic licence with the look of a traditional geisha.
We also see camera tests for the makeup and hair designs and the wearing
A Geisha's Dance (8.14 mins)
Director Rob Marshall, co-producer/choreographer John Deluca, Japanese
dance consultant Miyako Tachibana, associate choreographer Denise Faye,
costume designer Colleen Atwood, geisha consultant Lisa Dalby and star
Ziyi Zhang talk about combining the traditional with the cinematic.
The World of the Geisha (8.32 mins)
Director Rob Marshall, author Arthur Golden, geisha consultant Lisa Dalby
and stars Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Youki Kudih and Kaori Momoi examine
what a geisha is and their place in modern Japanese society.
Chef Nobu's Recipes
Read the recipes for new style Sashmi, boiled cod in miso sauce and mushroom
View behind the scenes and illustration images from the film
The DVD treatment of 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is good and fans should be
very pleased. The featurettes cover most aspects of the film's production
and the commentary track is very good. They really complement the film.
House of Flying Daggers
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