Memoirs of a Geisha (film)

Memoirs of a Geisha (Original Title: Memoirs of a Geisha ) is a film drama in 2005 by director Rob Marshall with Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li in the lead roles. The film is based on the novel published in 1997, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.


Japan, in 1929: Nine-year old Chiyo lives with her older sister Satsu and her parents in the small Japanese fishing village Yoroido. Before her mother dies, the father of Chiyo and Satsu sold to a geisha house, a so-called okiya in the old imperial city of Kyoto. Satsu is not accepted and instead sent to a brothel in another district. Chiyo, an exceptional beauty promises to be with her bright blue eyes, suffers from the separation from her sister and the cruel treatment of the owner of the geisha house. At a prearranged with the sister escape, they can not appear, but her sister manages to escape. In addition, it is now reported that both parents are deceased. Because of their attempt to escape the mistress of the okiya is no longer willing to invest in training for Geisha Chiyo. From then on, the girl must therefore eke out an existence as a maid. Her only friend is pumpkin head, which was also brought to the training in the okiya.

As Chiyo sad sitting one day on a bridge, it is brought up and encouraged by an elegant gentleman; this you buy a bag of sweet ice. He is accompanied by two geishas, ​​the "Director" call him. While Chiyo eats her ice cream and looking at the two geishas, ​​she realizes that something can be a geisha to open up completely new. She decides to do everything in order to become a geisha and wiederzubegegnen the director someday. In winter, when Chiyo is 15, agreed the successful geisha Mameha with the owner of the okiya that they will take over the training of Chiyo. From now on, the girl all the artistic and social skills a geisha requires learning. She and her girlfriend pumpkin heads are now rivals, because this begins her training under the guidance of Hatsumomo. Since Mameha Hatsumomo hates it prohibits pumpkin head dealing with Chiyo and the two girls are divided. A few months later, Chiyo gives her debut as " Sayuri " and learns a life of luxury, privileges, but also intrigues know. It also makes the acquaintance of influential men, such as Nobu Toshikazu, Dr. Cancer and the Baron, the Danna of Mameha. As it turns out, the director, whom she meets again also, the famous Iwamura Ken, the company Osaka Electrics passes together with Nobu is.

When the Second World War Japan reached, Sayuri can flee to the mountains with the help of Nobu and the director and has lived there for years as Stofffärberin in a kimono manufacturer. After the war, Nobu Sayuri asks for their help; so that they can make a contract with a financial backer of the U.S. it and the director, she returns to the okiya back to work again as a geisha. With the help of Mameha, who works as a landlord and pumpkin head that has a lot to do with Americans, she starts with her task. Despite all the years, Sayuri has not given up her love for the director, but as Nobu opened her now, her soon to offer as Danna, it shall take a desperate decision: you must bring Nobu to despise them and to turn away from her. This she could reach only one way: Surrender to the contractual partner of Nobu, who has his eye on her. Instead of Nobu sees it but the director and Sayuri feels that now is all hope is lost. Nobu but has nevertheless learn from everything and are on Sayuri. The director tells Sayuri everything, and at the end he confesses his many years of love and tells her why Mameha is then come to her to train as a geisha. Sayuri tells him that she has everything done in the past in order to be closer to him. In tears, the director includes her in his arms and together they go.


  • The term Hanamachi used in the film refers to the part of town where the geisha live. Okiya is called the home of a Geisha.
  • Arthur Golden, author of the original novel, spent several years in Japan. He is said to have been inspired by a meeting in Tokyo, where he met the illegitimate son of a respected businessman and a geisha. During the research for his novel, the author is said to have mainly based on the experience of the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, a good friend of his grandmother. Iwasaki was for many years a well-known geisha for the Japanese upper class.
  • Originally, the Chinese actress Maggie Cheung was considered for the role of Mameha. She refused the role, however: "I did not want to come home and people say I have cheated my culture ," wrote the newspaper " Chongqing Shibao ".
  • Since the Gion district in which the action in the novel takes place in present-day Kyoto, looked too modern for the film, a historical Japanese district was built for the filming in Thousand Oaks, California.
  • The film music of John Williams consisted of two major elements: Sayuri's Theme, played on a cello by Yo- Yo Ma, and the topic of the director, played on a violin by Itzhak Perlman.
  • The director took artistic liberties with the presentation of the geishas and placed it on purpose is trendy and modern, rather than strict adherence to the historical models. Costume designer Colleen Atwood said: "We rather give an impression of the time, instead of them represent real".
  • Production costs were estimated at around 85 million U.S. dollars. The film played in theaters worldwide around 162 million U.S. dollars, of which around 57 million U.S. dollars in the U.S. and around 8 million U.S. dollars in Germany.
  • Theatrical release in the United States with a limited to a few cities was published on 9 December 2005, the nationwide began publication on 23 December 2005. In Germany the film was released on 19 January 2006 in the cinemas.


  • This is a film for the eyes and ears, not for the heart and brain. ( Toronto Star )
  • Decked out gracefully - but superficial. (TV movie )
  • Arthur Golden's international best-seller brought to the screen with beauty and tact. ( Variety)
  • Melodramatic accented, solid mock pageantry film, which exhausts itself in the emotional rollercoaster of a dramatic love story. Scenically a crude mix of cultures, puts little emphasis on the mediation of Far Eastern social phenomena. ( Film Service)

Both in Japan and in China, the film has sparked protests and outrage. This was due to the occupation of the Japanese Geisha roles with Chinese actresses. At the world premiere in Tokyo was in the local press about a " scandal " is mentioned. In China, the film was not even in the theaters; synchronization was canceled. Chinese director Chen Kaige said: " A Chinese can not play a Geisha, it is a traditional figure of the Japanese culture. (...) But maybe it was the director do not care. "Especially Zhang Ziyi looked as Actress of the geisha in their homeland harsh criticism and even threats exposed, as some Chinese people still regard Japan as a nemesis.

Other criticisms from Asia to the U.S. producers of the film was the arbitrary casting of roles without regard to the exact origin of the Asian actor, what adversity and sometimes generated racism allegations, with the motto " all gooks look the same ."

Awards (selection)

  • Best Art
  • Best Camera
  • Best Costume Design nominated in the categories: Best Original Score
  • Best Sound
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Camera
  • Best Costume Design nominated in the categories: Best Actress - Zhang Ziyi
  • Best Art
  • Best mask
  • Best Original Score Nomination in the category of Best Actress - Drama for Zhang Ziyi
  • Best Adapted Screenplay nominated in the categories: Best Motion Picture - Drama
  • Best Director
  • Best Actress - Drama (Zhang Ziyi )
  • Best Supporting Actress - Drama ( Gong Li)
  • Best Camera
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Art
  • Best Costumes
  • Nomination in the category Best Actress for Zhang Ziyi
  • Best Supporting Actress ( Gong Li)