Memoirs of a Geisha

Katie Young
Wednesday - December 28, 2005
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Brooke Hasegawa

Memoirs Of A Geisha
Movie Review with Brooke Hasegawa
53rd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen
As Told To Katie Young

Where and with whom did you see the movie?

I, along with my younger brother, Brett, and a sold-out theatre, watched Memoirs of a Geisha at Ward Theatres.

Overall what did you think?

Memoirs of a Geisha, which can be labeled as a cultural love story, did justice to the elegant and timeless scenery of Kyoto, Japan. Going into this movie,many will not know truly what a Geisha is. But as Memoirs of a Geisha progresses, the audience will become captivated in an aspiring young geisha’s story.Overall,the acting of the main characters was par, but what really makes this movie a must-see film is its breathtaking setting and meaningful selection of musical pieces.

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Memoirs Of A Geisha

What was your favorite scene?

The beginning of the movie is rather depressing and gloomy.

Chiyo, the main character, is taken from her home and separated from her mother,father and big sister.Early into the film,Chiyo takes a fall and cries through harsh whippings. It is at this point in the movie where my favorite scene made itself known.Chiyo lays hanging over the edge of a small bridge, and quite possibly could be the saddest little girl I have ever seen in a movie. A young Westernized Japanese man approaches Chiyo and immediately comments on the rare coloring of her eyes.This mystery man in a suit and top hat purchases shaved ice, and gives her the change and cold treat in a handkerchief. He tells Chiyo that she will take many falls in life, but she must never forget to smile and get back up. From this point in the movie, she is determined to become a geisha and one day find this man again. The story takes a turn for the better,and Chiyo finds herself training to become the greatest geisha of all. In the midst of darkness and fear,one person’s words changed Chiyo’s life forever. My grandma always said that the generosity of others,no matter how great or small, is always meaningful.This scene illustrates the truth in my grandmother’s statement.

Did you have a favorite character?

A businessman referred to as the “Chairman” befriends Sayuri and plays a critical part in her story. The Chairman reminds me of my late Grandpa George.

How would you rate the acting?

Par. While I myself am not a Golden Globe nominee, nor do I claim to have the ability to speak Japanese perfectly, there were moments within the film in which the dialogue was inaudible due to the presence of a Chinese accent by the main character Chiyo.

How were the special effects?

The various gardens which were portrayed in the movie captured the beautiful and majestic feeling of traditional Japan, just how I remember Kyoto when I visited in late October. Perhaps the greatest part of Memoirs of a Geisha was the selection of musical pieces. Chaotic running in the streets during the day called for the fast and syncopated strings of the shamisen. While on a dark cold night as thousands of raindrops bombarded the okiya (geisha house), the loud and powerful thumping of taiko drums drew the audience to the edges of their seats.

Did the movie have a meaning?

Many who do not know the history of the geisha view them as prostitutes. But Memoirs of a

Geisha sends a clear message to the audience that although geisha were beautiful women who danced, played the shamisen and poured tea, their role within the Japanese culture was so much more then that of an adult entertainer.Women in Japanese society were often viewed as weak when compared to their male counterparts. However, the geisha were highly respected and admired artisans.In addition the life of a geisha was not about following one’s destiny; it was about putting aside wants and desires (i.e. love) to become an everlasting cultural icon.

How does the film compare to the book?

As an account executive with Paradise Yellow Pages,I always share with my clients the importance on one’s return on investment. An investment only makes sense, if you can receive a sizeable return. The book, at a cost of $15, details at great length the significance of the various cultural traditions associated with the geisha profession and Japanese people.The movie leaves much to personal interpretation and lacks the background information necessary to connect with the characters. If you’re pressed for time and not a quick reader, then perhaps the movie would provide you with the best return. As for me, the book was a great investment which I will continue to read for years to come.

Is it a movie that you would see again?

I would watch it on an airplane, would-n’t go to the theatre for a second time, and would buy the DVD.

To whom would you recommend the film?

At the end of the film my brother and I looked at one another and said, “Mom would like that show.“A person who appreciates Japanese culture or would like to learn more would find this movie entertaining.

On a four star rating, with four being the highest what would you rate the movie?

3 Stars

How often do you go to the movies?

This is the first movie I have seen in the last year, so I guess you could say not very often.

What genre of movies do you like?

Comedy. My schedule has been hectic as of late; anything that will make me laugh hysterically from beginning to end is always a nice break from the normal routine.

What’s new?

Thus far the 53rd Cherry Blossom Court has been able to raise over $8,000 and has participated with more than 20 nonprofit organizations.We have volunteered our time and energy with events such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, YMCA Trading Places Program, Hawaii’s Plantation Village Drum Festival, HUGS Christmas Celebration, Ronald McDonald House Sunday Night Dinner Program ... the list goes on.

Humility, perseverance, generosity and compassion were the cornerstones on which our Issei and Nissei founded their lives. Over the past year, whether it was through volunteerism,fundraising,appearances or traveling as a Goodwill Ambassador for Hawaii, it’s been an honor and a privilege to continue their legacy.

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