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Memoirs of a Geisha (Full Screen 2-Disc Special Edition)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Full Screen 2-Disc Special Edition)
Buy New: $9.99
Buy New/Used/Collectible from $8.94

Avg. Customer Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars(based on 199 reviews)
Sales Rank: 1073
Category: DVD

Actors: Ziyi Zhang, Suzuka Ohgo
Director: Rob Marshall
Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, 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: 043396142411
EAN: 0043396142411

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

Customer Reviews:   Read 194 more reviews...

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
  1 out of 1 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.

5 out of 5 stars Beautiful and moving   June 18, 2006
  1 out of 1 found this review helpful

My husband and I really enjoyed this film. Beautiful and well done. Do yourself a favor...see this movie!

4 out of 5 stars Enjoyable But Confused Western Memoirs of Eastern Cultural Stereotypes   June 14, 2006
  3 out of 3 found this review helpful

I enjoyed this film, but it has some serious inaccuracies stemming from the use of Chinese actresses and some laughable Western stereotypes of Japanese culture. Still, Ziyi Zhang's heart-twisting beauty and style are worth four stars right away. In this movie she really comes into her own as a lead actress. No matter how much training Chinese actresses get, though, it is really impossible for them to behave the way Japanese women would have in the same situations. Even with the best acting, they cannot convey the peculiar Japanese "kokoro," the blend of ethos and pathos supposedly unique to the Japanese heart. It's all in the face--or lack of it to be precise. A geisha would never show her face the way Li Gong does, for instance. Revenge from a Japanese woman would be so much more subtle, and certainly not obvious. Before this movie I would have doubted it would make a difference, but it does. If the cast could have employed Japanese women in the three central roles filled by Gong, Zhang, and Michelle Yeoh, (three gorgeous actresses) the film would have been much better as a reflection of Japanese culture. But alas, the right Japanese actresses were not available. If really interested in geisha or the "inscrutable" Japanese psyche, I would recommend that anyone who enjoyed the novel and this film read some of the novels of Kawabata Yasunari, especially "Snow Country." You'll see what I'm talking about. That said, to have employed those three wonderful Chinese actresses does the film justice, nevertheless, and you will be hard pressed to find a more luscious bevy of pulchritude in any film.

5 out of 5 stars Love Flows as a Samisen's Melody.   June 13, 2006
  2 out of 2 found this review helpful

"Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005) was badly received by cinematography critics in Argentina. Nevertheless the trailers I've seen were intriguing and captivating.
I was torn between these two perceptions, so finally I didn't see the movie at the theater and waited for its DVD release to rent it.
May be that I'm an incurable romantic but I just LOVED this film!

The story starts in Japan in mid `20s. When a very poor father is forced to sell his two daughters as the whole family is starving to death.
Both girls are delivered by the buyer to a geisha house one and the other to a brothel.
Young Chiyo (who is around ten years old) starts her hard training as a geisha. First she tries to escape with her sister. She fails and is severely punished.
Her education is done at a geisha school, where she learns dancing, singing and playing the samisen. She is in distress and alone. Then one day when she was crying heartbrokenly on a bridge, a kind gentleman consoles her and buys her an ice-cream.
This tiny sun ray is enough to change her life. She decides to be the best geisha ever and conquer the love of the kind Mr. Chairman.
Soon after this event she is recruited by a famous geisha, Mameha, to be her disciple.
From here on a complex competition arises between Mameha & Chiyo vs. Hatsumomo (the "bad" geisha) & Pumpkin (her apprentice and sidekick) as to which team will be the most distinguished.
Competition includes several stages of deceit and subtly maneuvering mixed with direct and blunt "blows".
Then WWII explodes and all the scenery change imposing successive mutations to all the characters in order to survive first and regain prosperity afterwards.

Playacting is excellent with the special and delicate flavor given by Chinese actresses Ziyi Zhang as Chiyo, Li Gong as hideous Hatsumomo and Malaysian Michelle Yeoh as the subtle and elegant Mameha. Ken Watanabe as The Chairman and Koji Yakusho as tortured and temperamental Nobu are over par.

In each category the movie is produced by first class professionals that stamp their class seal enhancing the overall excellence.
Musical score was done by multiple awarded John Williams, who was nominated, once more, for an Oscar by this film.
Photography was in charge of Dion Beebe who won his Oscar ratifying his ascendant career. He delivers beautiful pictures of different interiors and some typical Japanese gardens.
Costumes are another film's high point, Oscar winning too, in charge of Colleen Atwood. A kaleidoscopic display of kimonos is shown gracefully.

I think general public will enjoy this film very much!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.

Copyright 2006