If you have not read the book of Memoirs of a Geisha and have watched the film, you might probably say that the movie is excellent. Yes, it is a beautiful movie but if you compare the film to the book, the book is apparently far beautiful.
“Memoirs of a Geisha” is like a Harry Potter’s book series. Many avid readers of Harry Potter said that the movie is beautiful but disappointingly said the book is better than the film.
It was just like what happened in this case of Memoirs of a Geisha. I asked some friends who had watched the film and at the same time had read the book. They said that they liked the movie. It is beautiful. But they said that the book is more beautiful because it is more detailed. They said that while reading the book, they could feel that they were being transported to the geisha’s time in Japan. They could vividly imagine the geisha’s way of life.
The characterization of the main character who is named Sayuri in the book is far better from the portayal of the actress namely Ziyi Zhang in the film. Ziyi Zhang was not able to capture the real character of Sayuri. Yes, she has an attractive face which is maybe one of the reason why the director (Rob Marshall) chose her as the main cast of the film but the disappointing part of her portrayal is that she did not successfully brought to the audience the real Sayuri that could dramatically feel and experience in the book. Zhang had failed the audience to feel the true character of Sayuri. She seemed to act just for the sake of acting. What I mean is that, Zhang did not portray Sayuri as a “living” Sayuri. She was not able to capture Sayuri’s personality. Instead, she was just merely acting but not making the character came alive. As a professional actress, though it was really hard to portray the character Sayuri, Zhang should exert extra effort to portray the characterization successfully. She shoul exclude her real real self from Sayuri. As an actress, she should know that very well.It seemed that whenever the director said to her that the emotion, for example required for this one scene is sad, then she woould feel sad in an instant. The sense of progression was not present in her acting and because of that; the emotions were not naturally flowing. The emotions seemed unreal because the process of experiencing the emotion or let’s say portraying the emotions was not done gradually that made it obviously scripted. Zhang had trouble making her emotions real. She should know that in order for the emotion to be real, it should be done gradually because there is no one, a person in real life that would feel an instant change in emotion. All of us passes in the natural transistion of emotions because we were just human and not robots that when commanded to be sad, were automatically feel sad. So, I say that one of the flaws of the movie was the unsuccessful portrayal of main cast Sayuri by the beautiful actress Ziyi Zhang.
Rob Marshall has a good eye for visuals. In the film, he used bright colors to silently tell the audience that the person in that particular scene is wealthy or the place particularly witnessed was prosperous. In the contrary, if the person is poor, the color of the scene was diminished into non-bright colors or in most scenes the colors were actually washed out. There was also one scene that was great to see. It was one of the great, visual sequence. This one scene was Sayuri’s training on being a Geisha. It was a breathtaking scene. And this sequence happened very fast that the audience had given the sense work and training as keen watchers and observants. Indeed, the director was really good in terms of the visual effects.
The film is excellent in some points, if not the whole thing, if it is compared to its book. It would not win three Oscar’s awards for nothing if it was not a good movie. It won Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achienvent in Costume Design (Amazon.com). Other than the failure of Ziyi Zhang to portray the real character of Sayuri, because she lacked subtleness and shyness which Sayuri possesses, there were no flaws that I can see from the other actors or actresses. Actually, I found the other actors’ or actresses’ portrayal good enough for the audience to vividly imagine that somewhere in the Japan’s past, an incident like this had happened and persons like the characters were once lived in the past.
I was not quite convinced that the narration in the film had helped me follow the transition easily. For me, it was harsh for the audience to hear something that did not give any hint in the process of storytelling. The audience would rather feel that narrator in the story forces us to feel what the narrator wanted us to feel not that narrator reinforces the emotions that we would feel as the scene progresses. The narrator should let the audience choose what they want to feel from one scene to another.
Arthur Golden had shocked me, just like my friends told me that they had felt the same way too, when I had found out the author was a male. I almost forgot that the author was a male because the story seemed like a biography because of the vivid and detailed description of the author in Sayuri’s life as well as the setting of Japan that time. And the most surprising of it all, taking just one glance at author’s name, one may not have probably mistaken that the author was a Japanese. From the name alone, Golden cannot be mistaken as one. Arthur Golden is really an excellent writer that he had a created a magic art of literature to enthrall people’s emotions and imaginations as if he, himself, really experienced what he had written. For that, I can say that the writer really done his best skill, brought out his very soul and feelings to create this magic literature to touch and captivate every reader’s imaginative mind.
Same as Rob Marshall, his film made a good impact to the audience because it was really a good movie. He captured the good film to give justice to the book. It was just that he failed to guide his performers to perform well just like what Ziyi Zhang did. But other than Zhang, others did a great job. But sad to say, Zhang should be the one who acted so well to bring the real Sayuri into life because Sayuri is the main character of the story. But she did otherwise. Marshall should not allow his performers to just let the emotions flow without the gradual changes because it would really make the sequence unbelievable thus making it unreal.
All in all, I can say that the film did a good job but it could have been better if it is done a little bit longer so that there were no many short cuts done. I think it would be better if the film would take at least thirty minutes longer so that the audience could dramatically capture every essential details of the story. That was one thing that I considered as one of the flaws of the film. Although, there were flaws which are unavoidable sometimes because of some factors, the film still did good though as I want to reiterate again, that it could be better if the film could only remake it once more.
The book was so fascinating and wonderful that it made me travel without any single penny spent or without the help of time machine to go back in time where geisha in Japan still existed. I really find the book so fascinating and absorbing and for that I guarantee that one would not feel that the money they spent paying for the book was a loss to regret about. This book will take you in every wonder in the world of Sayuri, in the world of geishas. Though many said that the content of the book was not accurate, it was still the book that I would like to read over and over again.
If you have not read the book or even watched the movie, I suggest you to get a copy of the book and start reading it by the time you get a hold of it. Once you do get hold of it, you will surely get hook in reading it. But if you are the kind of person who prefers watching movie than reading a novel, the film is a good movie to watch too. The film will tell the same story though the experience of reading the book may not be a similar thing. When you watch the movie, you can say that it is worth watching for. Later, after you have watched the film, you would perhaps look for the book and start reading it. Even before you notice it, you are probably hooked in what you are reading.
Movie Review: Memoirs of A Geisha. Thinking Christians. 18 March 2006.Retrieved 15 July 2008 from <http://thinking-
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