I have the travel bug big time. It seems I’m always looking to travel to a new place, explore a new city or delve into a new culture. I’ve traveled to Costa Rica and visited the cathedrals. I’ve white water rafted down the New River in West Virginia. I’ve dug the foundation of a clinic in a squatter’s village just outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras. And just recently I’ve sat on the coast of Maine and explored the lighthouses. Still my thirst for travel has not been quenched.
Although I’ve never been to certain places, I feel as if I have thanks to books that I’ve read. I feel as if I’ve snuck through the prison camps of North Korea, hid out in the Scottish forests overnight and been invited into the glassblower’s factory in Milan. I even found myself with front row seats to 1940’s Japan when they entered the Second World War.
Books allow us to travel to places using our mind’s eye, but sometimes movies complete for us a picture we may have never been able to fully comprehend before.
Memoirs of a Geisha is the 2005 movie adapted from the Arthur Golden book of the same name. It follows the story of a poor fisher village girl, Chiyo, who is sold into service to become a geisha in 1930’s Kyoto, Japan. But her headstrong conviction to get home soon find her living as a maid rather than training as a geisha. When a change encounter with a stranger give Chiyo the understanding of what can be achieved as a geisha, she vows to put herself on the right path again.
Chiyo is soon given the opportunity to study and become a geisha under the direction of Mameha, the arch rival of her household’s geisha Hastumomo. Under Mameha’s guidance Chiyo is transformed into Sayuri, a full fledged geisha who makes history when her virginity is bartered for an unprecedented amount.
At the height of her popularity the geisha world is crushed by the entrance of Japan into the World War Two. Sayuri is spirited away to a remote village where she works to die fabric for a working-class family. When Sayuri returns to Kyoto, any prostitute who paints her face can call herself a geisha. Gone is the art of tease and temptation that the geisha so famously gave their patrons.
Sayuri is commissioned to assist her friend in entertaining an American general who is thinking of funding his rebuild of his electric company. But what happens at the mountain retreat will change the destiny of all who attend forever.
Ziyi Zhang is amazing as Sayuri. I’m used to seeing her roles that focus on her martial arts abilities and strength and flexibility so I was pleased to be watching her in a role that allowed her to show so much vulnerability and softness.
Li Gong is also amazing as Hatsumomo. You just want to reach through the screen and give her a slap, especially when she sets the house on fire.
The movie glosses over a few things including Sayuri taking the general as her dana and the more minute details related to her virginity sale and Mrs. Nitta’s propensity for surviving in the war by selling contraband. Also we don’t see what Chiyo and Satsu are subjected to before they arrive in Kyoto. Overall this movie is a great compliment to the book by Arthur Golden and doesn’t fall far from the original story. I could literally watch this movie every week, I love it that much.
What book would you love to see made into a movie?
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