Review

Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

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This is a film that I’ve been looking forward to watching for a long time, but at 2hrs 26 minutes, it’s been rather difficult to find the time to watch it in one sitting. I read the book, on a whim really after being part of an English lesson where the whole class reads a book, and I was hooked. It’s such a beautiful story and when I found out that there was a film (on Netflix conveniently!) I was extremely excited to finish the book and watch the adaptation.

I was worried, though, because I loved the story so much, that the film would ruin the story and not do it justice as so many book lovers often think of films, but thankfully this was not the case. The whole film is beautiful from start to finish – each shot is artfully composed and delicately edited with the greatest care. The characters are just as well developed and you really start to fall in love with the main girl and despise the nasty geisha Hatsumomo. I love the old, artful Japanese culture that comes across and the emotion that surrounds Chiyo’s loss of her sister but the film allows you to truly admire her strive to become a geisha, after she has accepted her fate.

I mean, the one thing with films is that they aren’t as long as books can be and you can never really truly grasp the length of a time period or the tediousness of situations that Chiyo seems to find herself in, particularly as a child. It’s just how it is, but I think the film succeeded in portraying Chiyo’s life and progression accurately.

I think I would also argue that I might not have understood what was actually going on as much if I hadn’t read the book… There are an awful lot of characters and a lot of complex little things happen to Chiyo which I think I only really picked up on because I knew what was going on after having read the book. I mean, I can’t say that for sure because I can’t exactly unread it but at times I felt as though I lost where the film was at.

One thing that I was really keen on seeing how the film managed it was through the character of Hatsumomo herself because she’s painted as a true monster, beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside. I always found her an interesting character because she’s so damn crazy and focused on destroying Chiyo’s life and I think the film really did her justice. She is portrayed as a gross geisha, a nasty girl who drinks too much and sleeps around when she really, really shouldn’t and it’s actually satisfying to see her life get destroyed because of how she behaves.

I really enjoyed the book and consequently the film; I think they made it really well considering how complex and long the story is and I am really pleased that I watched it. I feel like the film enhanced my appreciation of the story because having read it there were a lot of aspects that I didn’t really understand or couldn’t picture because I don’t have great understanding of Japanese culture. I think if you were thinking of watching it, go for it by all means, I just feel like the film and book sort of go hand in hand 🙂

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Education

Memoirs of a Geisha

I never used to read. Other than Twilight when I was a tween and Eragon which is one of my favourite books, it never was one of my hobbies. I always had a stack of books in my room though, because they interested me. Books are fascinating, how you can get so absorbed into a set of pages and some characters that most of the time somebody has invented. They’re such a weird concept but I’ve always love them, I’ve just never really read them.

That was until I started working at school and became part of a year 8 reading class. It was a cold morning. And I was tired. It had been suggested to me that I bring in one of my own books because all the class would be doing for an hour would be reading in silence. But, silly me had ‘forgotten’ (I have three books atop my wardrobe in York sitting there, unread from an equivalent of Pound Stretcher so you see my reason for neglect) so I was forced to choose one post haste from the school library. I headed immediately for the sixth form section, hoping to find something I wanted to read because I have a real issue with choosing books or even films sometimes. So I browsed for a few moments and then chose something I’d never even heard of before. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. During that hour I read the first 27 pages and I was hooked. Like, really hooked. I’ve never felt like this about a book before, I’ve never been interested in a book like this before. But there’s something about it that I find incredibly interesting. If you don’t know it, like I didn’t, it’s about a young girl who is taken from her little fishing village and is given to an okiya in Kyoto to train to become a geisha. It’s all about her dealing with changes and expectations of women in 1930s Japan and it’s wonderful. I can’t stop reading, like really. I’m only on page 305 out of 493 so I have no idea what happens or how it ends so please no spoilers! Cheers.

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I’m also planning to watch the film (which is on Netflix thankfully) because film adaptations of books always fascinate me, I’m even looking at pursuing a masters degree in the subject.

Anyhow, I’m really happy to be back in the routine of reading. It’s nice, it’s exciting and it’s a different experience to watching a film (don’t start on which medium is better, I can’t handle it) and I have a growing stack of books on my bookshelf that I want to read and that have been recommended to me by many people. How exciting! But so far, I would highly recommend this book. It’s so, so interesting, I think I’m going to read some more now…