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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 28 June 2006
So it isn't as good as the book - who cares - when you have two of the most beautiful chinese actress' and one of the finest Japanese actors (if not the best) in history; portraying this epic true story of one womans life through hardship and pain to final happiness and true love.

The true effect of the cinematograhy is a little lost in translation from the big screen to the small screen but the pure beauty and serenty of Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh is breath taking,costumes and makeup are stunning, too.

Ken Watannbe produces a performance both powerful and understated exhibiting how a man of high position and influence can still be full of humility and understanding.
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on 3 July 2006
I read the book Memoirs of a Geisha when it was first published about 6 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed. I watched the DVD last week and loved every minute. I would suggest that you watch the extra footage on the "Look of a Geisha" and the making of the film first; then you will appreciate the expertise of the costume makers; the training the actors had to do to play the part of a Geisha and the language difficulties. It is a film I feel is well worth buying and that I will watch more than once just to admire the costumes
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on 19 March 2006
I read the book a while ago and was very anxious to see the film when it launched. In complete objectivity, I must say that each art form - written and visual - must be appreciated individually and each one can stand proudly on its own. This film was extremely symbolic (in particular, the war narrative part and its symbolic imagery in water), mysterious (as is the world of the geisha), lyrical, and visually appealing: a refreshingly simple work of art. Amidst the raucous and inname films continuously being made, this one pays homage to a dying breed of Japanese culture and history. This is a film well worth seeing and keeping for a future generation.
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As the story begins, young Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) and her sister and sold by their poor parents to be servant girls in a geisha house far away. The girls are separated, and Chiyo's life is one of constant work and punishment, until the day she meets the Chairman (Ken Watanabe). The handsome businessman is kind to the miserable little girl and from that moment, she vows to become a geisha so she can see him again. Chiyo escapes the jealousy of head geisha Hatsumomo (Li Gong), and becomes the prot' of Mameha (Michelle Yeoh) who helps her become the most celebrated geisha in the city. And then WWII changes everything.

I enjoyed every minute of this film. The costumes and scenery are exquisite, the acting is excellent, and script is powerful and touching. The story contrasts the harsh life of little Chiyo with the graceful elegance of the geishas, and it's a visual feast. The best scenes were those with Ken Watanabe, whose confidence and charisma are very appealing. Heartily recommended for its story and breathtaking beauty.
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on 2 May 2006
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of those books I threatened to read for years. I finally got around to it some months ago and was hooked. It was a fantastic story that just sucks you right in so you feel you know the characters intimately. When I hear the book was being turned into a movie I waited with baited breath for its release. And I wasn't disappointed.

The movie sticks to the script of the book fantastically. The acting is superb and the sets were a picture perfect portrayal of what I had in my minds eye when I read the book.

The story is of a peasant girl sold by her parents to a geisha house in Gion. There she is beaten and brutalized by the Madam of the house and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her true beauty is recognized by Hatsumomo's rival, Mameha, who takes Chiyo under her wing and turns her into a renowned geisha known as Sayuri.

This film is a love-story in one sense and a story of survival and hardship in another. I felt like I was back reading the book and enjoyed every second. Some have criticized the film because the actors weren't Japanese but I don't think this takes away from the film at all. The actors, actresses, performances, sets and costumes are just what I had envisaged when reading the book so I wasn't disappointed. If you enjoyed the book then I'm sure you'll love the film.....I did.
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The Academy got it about right when they awarded Oscars for Cinematography and Costume, but not acting. This film is a visual feast from the cluttered Geisha suburb of Gion, through Mahema's exquisite apartment, to the cherry blossom on the Baron's estate. However, the intensity and emotion of the book is largely lost - there just isn't time to build up the characterisation of the main players, and almost every character becomes more one-dimesional than their paper equivalent.

You don't get to experience the prolonged suffering of Chiyo, separated from her parents and sister and sold to be trained as a Geisha. Nor do you get a sense of rival geisha's Hatsumomo's relentless persecution of Chiyo. Nor how long and arduous the schooling to become a Geisha really is. Nor the heroines long struggle to be noticed by the Chairman after their initial brief encounter on the bridge. And certainly not her revulsion at the prospect of having Nobu as a patron. These scenes are all included of course, but they're rushed and you don't feel them as keenly as you do when reading the book.

But all of this is understandable, isn't it? - how do you cram a novel as rich and expansive as Memoirs of a Geisha into a film that runs for just over two hours? You can't. The actors and actresses though talented, simply don't have time to do justice to the piece, a task made harder by the struggle with English some of them experienced, which means some of the emphasis in sections of dialogue is lost or misplaced.

Positives? The bonus scenes - details on costume and make-up and even japanese recipes, make this a nice package. Style over subtance you might think. Yet despite this I still give it four stars. How could you not with a film so visually perfect.
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on 4 March 2006
This film is mouthwateringly beautiful...Even if you don't pay attention to the plot - the images are just gorgeous to look at.
If you do pay attention to the plot, you will find it all the more stunning. Offering great insight into the complex, intriguing world of a geisha's career and personal life, it could almost be considered an educational film.
This may sound tacky... but this film is made with all the precision and careful consideration of a geisha's dance. It is simply irresistible!
(I'd rather not have to mention this, but in response to one of the previous reviews, i would like to point out that ethnicity is not important in this film. In any film. A good film is a good film whether the actors are Chinese, Japanese, American, African... I'd like to think that whatever conflicts there are between Japan and China, that they could put that behind them a hour or two, and just enjoy a nice movie together.)
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I have to say I haven't read the book to compare the film against, but I found the film to be both beautiful and intriguing to watch. It is fascinating to see the kinds of situations a Geisha would of put into and how they dealt with it, and the training they underwent. It is also interesting to see the hierarchy in the Geisha world, as well as the distinction between geisha and prostitutes. This film is stunning in it's imagery and direction and the story holds you until the end. My girlfriend has read the book and loved the film also.

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on 15 February 2006
As a big fan of the Arthur golden novel i looked forward to this film with much anticipation and am glad to say that it did not disappoint.Although some of the critical revues were lukewarm to say the least i found this film an underrated gem with all the mystery,grace and beauty of the Geisha brought to life on the cinema screen.The film i guess,at times,does lack dramatic impact but more than makes up for it with superb performances from all concerned,a narrative that stays faithfull to the source novel and some of the most authentic and beautifull scenery and costumes ever captured on film.This is one of the most visually stunning films i have ever seen with the fantastic costumes,makeup,scenery and set design and the attention to detail that is second to none.
Having Chinese women play the lead rolls was another criticism from the movie press but after you have seen all the characters within the context of the story you forget about such minor details and let the film speak for itself.As you probably guessed by now i loved this film and every aspect of it right down to the slightly sentimental but heart lifting ending but can also understand and appreciate the critical comments aimed in it's direction.I think it can be some up by saying that if you are looking for a sweeping historical love story of great elegance and beauty then this film is for you.On the other hand if you are not interested in the historical and cultural aspects and are just looking for some popcorn entertainment then perhaps look elsewhere.
Fantastic stuff though.
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on 13 November 2006
I am giving this 5 stars for the terrific impression the chairman gave me, he was just how I imagined him in the book. I love the way the director brings in the correct music at the correct times, and the costumes and make up are fantastic! If you have read the book, which I did, you feel like you're imagination has been taken away, but I thought this was done REALLY well. The book is one of my favourites and I don't usually watch any film which I have read the book to and enjoy it. I definitely think you should buy this, but you need to have a good understanding of the background of a geisha because it would of just left me confused otherwise. A fabulous DVD!
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