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Memoirs of a Geisha (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition)
List Price: $28.96
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Avg. Customer Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars(based on 202 reviews)
Sales Rank: 93
Category: DVD

Director: Rob Marshall
Publisher: Sony Pictures
Studio: Sony Pictures
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures
Label: Sony Pictures
Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Ntsc
Languages: English (Original Language), English (Subtitled), French (Subtitled), French (Dubbed)
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Media: DVD
Running Time: 145 minutes
Number Of Items: 2
Shipping Weight (lbs): 0.2
Dimensions (in): 7.1 x 5.4 x 0.6

UPC: 043396111592
EAN: 0043396111592

Release Date: March 28, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: December 23, 2005
Availability: Usually ships in 1-2 business days

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Editorial Reviews:
Chicago director Rob Marshall's pretty but empty (or pretty empty) film has all the elements of an Oscar contender: solid adaptation (from Arthur Golden's bestseller), beautiful locale, good acting, lush cinematography. But there's something missing at the heart, which leaves the viewer sucked in, then left completely detached from what's going on.

It's hard to find fault with the fascinating story, which traces a young girl's determination to free herself from the imprisonment of scullery maid to geisha, then from the imprisonment of geisha to a woman allowed to love. Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo), a young girl with curious blue eyes, is sold to a geisha house and doomed to pay off her debt as a cleaning girl until a stranger named The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) shows her kindness. She is inspired to work hard and become a geisha in order to be near the Chairman, with whom she has fallen in love. An experienced geisha (Michelle Yeoh) chooses to adopt her as an apprentice and to use as a pawn against her rival, the wicked, legendary Hatsumomo (Gong Li). Chiyo (played as an older woman by Ziyi Zhang), now renamed Sayuri, becomes the talk of the town, but as her path crosses again and again with the Chairman's, she finds the closer she gets to him the further away he seems. Her newfound "freedom" turns out to be trapping, as men are allowed to bid on everything from her time to her virginity.

Some controversy swirled around casting Chinese actresses in the three main Japanese roles, but Zhang, Yeoh and Gong in particular ably prove they're the best for the part. It's admirable that all the actors attempted to speak Japanese-accented English, but some of the dialogue will still prove difficult to understand; perhaps it contributes to some of the emotion feeling stilted. Geisha has all the ingredients of a sweeping, heartbreaking epic and follows the recipe to a T, but in the end it's all dressed up with no place to go.--Ellen A. Kim

A Cinderella story set in a mysterious and exotic world, this stunning romantic epic shows how a house servant blossoms, against all odds, to become the most captivating geisha of her day.

"... a visually stunning adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel." (Barry Caine, OAKLAND TRIBUNE) The director of Chicago, Rob Marshall, transports us into a mysterious and exotic world that casts a potent spell. A Cinderella story like no other, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA stars Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li. "Gorgeously photographed, meticulously directed and hypnotically acted. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is luxurious, ethereal and intoxicating. It will leave you breathless." (Rex Reed, NEW YORK OBSERVER)

Customer Reviews:   Read 197 more reviews...

4 out of 5 stars Sweet and sour   June 26, 2006
  0 out of 1 found this review helpful

I'll keep this short: excellent adaptation, beautiful cinematography, a great score, but sadly lacking in heart (like the editorial review says). Having lived 19 years in Japan and owing half of my blood to the island, however, I still can't get over the horrible casting job. Yes, the Chinese girls are beautiful and wonderful actors, but what kind of casting director has the balls to put non-Japanese women in all three of the main roles? How insulted and cheated do you think we feel? What, we don't have beautiful, talented actresses? I think not. The film thus lacked authenticity and was even less satisfying for me as a Japanese-American. The Last Samurai, which is 100% fictional and somewhat misrepresented several historical aspects of the Samurai (they were reactionaries, after all), at least gets their sentiment across with no damage, paid due respect to both sides, and had genuine Japanese-speaking actors to better relay our culture. You can't fake culture, I'm sorry.

I just had to rant. All in all, it's a nice little movie, but it left me hanging with nothing really at the core of the film, and feeling rather cheated.

5 out of 5 stars Tal y como la espere.   June 25, 2006
  0 out of 3 found this review helpful

Casi nunca una pelicula llena mis espectativas cuando he leido el libro primero, sin embargo esta me lleno de sentimiento, me saco algunas lagrimas, y represento muy bien todo aquello que el libro me hizo sentir acerca de las Geishas, en especial de la protagonista y su amor, ademas de la vida de estas mujeres, su cultura, y el significado de pequenos ritos, como el de la chispa antes de salir la Geisha. Muy bien elaborada, y actuada, digna de adquirirse y ver periodicamente para revivir tan hermoso pasaje.

4 out of 5 stars Nice glimpse into a Geisha's world, but the casting doesn't work and the screenplay lacks subtlety   June 25, 2006
  6 out of 6 found this review helpful

I read this book a few years ago and still remember it. It was lush with the nuances of geisha life. I felt real emotion for all of the geishas and their world. And it portrayed Japan and the Japanese people to its core. When I heard it was being made into a movie, I was dubious because I doubted that the feelings that the book created could ever be reproduced. I hoped I was wrong.

I was right. The movie seems to miss the point. It's true that it is beautiful. The costumes and the scenery really do feel authentic even though I know the film was shot in California. But the three main leads are not Japanese. They are Chinese. And the personalities of the geishas seem to be more modern American than traditional Japanese. When I first saw the trailer in the theater, and I saw the lead actress, Ziyi Zhang, who is indeed very beautiful, I couldn't help but notice her blue eyes. Yes, blue eyes. Immediately I knew that this film would lack authenticity.

The acting is good on all counts however. The production and cinematography are good too. It's the screenplay and the casting that makes me raise an eyebrow. What were they thinking? Why are the characters either all bad or all good? Where are the subtleties? The film is 2 hours and 25 minutes long. Usually, that's way too long for me. Not this time though. I wasn't bored. I was interested. I wanted more. I wanted to come away with the feeling of what it is really like to be a geisha. That didn't happen.

In spite of all of this I do recommend the film. Especially for those who will never read the book. It is a quick glimpse into a very special world. The fact that is lacking does not mean that it should be ignored. Enjoy the film for what it is.

5 out of 5 stars Have a Kleenex Close By   June 19, 2006
This moving memoir will have you in tears by the end. I can't say that it has a happy ending - but can say that it has a happier ending that I expected. Very touching story of a poor Japanese girl who is sold into slavery by her father, along with her older sister. She makes the best of a horrible life and becomes a top "geisha". A wonderful story of survival, rivalry, loss and ultimately love. Well acted and well paced.

Just be prepared to shed a few tears by the time the credits go up.

5 out of 5 stars A gorgeous, moving, must-see film   June 18, 2006
  4 out of 5 found this review helpful

With so many filmmakers producing films these days, it's a rare joy to sit and watch a work of actual cinematic artistry. Memoir of a Geisha is a beautiful film in almost every way - the vibrant cinematography, the music (featuring a score by John Williams and solos by both Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma), and of course the mysterious Geisha at the heart of this story. One can easily understand why many, especially the Japanese, were less than thrilled by the casting of Chinese actresses in the film's prominent roles (especially since the Chinese and Japanese were at war during the era in which this story takes place), but I don't think anyone can complain about the women's performances. Gong Li portrays the vindictive Hatsumomo to a tee, even revealing the vulnerability that helped make her the wicked woman she was. Michelle Yeoh brings grace and beauty to the part of Mameha, the woman who made it possible for the main character to escape a life of virtual slavery and become the Geisha she longed to be. For me, though, it's really all about Ziyi Zhang, a young actress whose beauty and talent have never failed to mesmerize me. She was absolutely enchanting in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of the Flying Daggers, and this film allowed me to see her in a completely dramatic light. I must also add that Zhang had some pretty big shoes to fill, as Suzuka Ohgo was absolutely fabulous as Chiyo, the girl who would grow up to be one of the most celebrated Geishas in the land.

I think most Westerners tend to associate Geisha with prostitutes, owing mainly to the reality of Japanese girls calling themselves Geisha as they sold themselves to American soldiers after the war. The whole concept of Geisha is quite foreign to most of us in the West - Memoirs of a Geisha reveals a small part of that exotic world to us, but I would be the first to admit I still know next to nothing about the Geisha lifestyle. As this film makes clear, though, they were not prostitutes at all - the Geisha were and are entertainers skilled in such things as singing and dancing. Their art was their life, as they were not permitted to truly live their own lives - they could not even consider love or marriage and remain a Geisha, leaving many of them to lead secret lives of unhappiness beneath the gaiety that was their trademark.

The film follows the life of Sakamoto Chiyo from childhood through World War II and beyond. Even as her mother lay dying, she and her sister were sold, Chiyo going to a Geisha house and her sister to a brothel. Robbed of family and friends, Chiyo was soon stripped of her dignity as well, as the jealous machinations of Hatsumomo (Gong Li) lead to her becoming little more than a slave for the Geisha house. In the midst of her misery, she meets a most kind man on the streets, a man known as the Chairman (Ken Watanabe), and commits herself to somehow becoming a Geisha and meeting the Chairman again. This love she feels for the only person to show her any real kindness only grows over time. Fate finally smiles upon her when Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), a famous Geisha from a rival house, takes her under her wing as part of an elaborate plan to deny Hatsumomo the power and influence she yearns for. Not only does Mamaha transform Chiyo almost overnight, she grooms her into the most famous Geisha in that part of Japan. Even with her Geisha dream fulfilled, however, Chiyo - now known as Sayuri - does not know happiness. While she has found a place near the Chairman, she is compelled to give most of her attention to his friend Nobu, and her only real friend is now lost to her. Then comes the Japanese defeat at the hands of the Americans, seemingly ending Sayuri's Geisha days forever. Fate eventually grants her one more chance: to don the kimono and to win the love traditionally denied the Geisha.

I think Memoirs of a Geisha is an exquisite film immersed in all forms of beauty. This is, when all is said and done, a love story that etches itself permanently into your memory. Admittedly, my fondness and admiration for Ziyi Zhang probably made the story more appealing that it would have been otherwise, but Zhang is such an expressive and talented actress, how can you not immerse yourself in the suffering she endures? All of the inner tumult that lies underneath the makeup and fancy clothes is most tellingly revealed in the dance she performs as part of what could be called her debut. Her graceful movements soon give way to a wild yet artful desperation that I can hardly describe. It is the creepiest (and most fascinating) dance I have ever seen - and it's only one of many gorgeous scenes in this exotic, undeniably poignant human drama.

Copyright 2006