Secrets of a True Geisha

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“The life of a true geisha is that of one very secretive” said my aunt Atasuko. “They do not talk about their life in the houses, but they are beautiful and very smart” she says. “They are well educated and only entertain men of high stature, such as prime ministers” (Chumbley). Memoirs of a Geisha is a movie produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Rob Marshall based on the novel which was written about a real life geisha. Although this movie had breath-taking scenes and amazing costumes, the inaccuracies were quite immense. Not only were the characters themselves wrong, but so were the costumes and the depiction of the becoming of a true geisha.

The first inaccuracy that was noted in this film was the characters. This film is about Japanese culture, and it is a little odd to cast three of the main characters as people of Chinese and Malaysian decent. The lead role of Sayuri was played by Zhang Ziyi who was born in Beijing, China. Hotsumomo was played by the actress known as Gong Li who was born in Shenyang, China. The third actress of non-Japanese decent in this movie was Michelle Yeoh. Michelle was born in Ipoh, Malaysia and played the role Mameha.

Another inaccuracy in this film was the costume design. The costumes were designed by Colleen Atwood. In 2005, Atwood won an Oscar Award for her costumes. The costumes in this movie range in design and are altered for each character in the movie. The alterations of the traditional kimonos include shape as well as color.

In a recent interview, Atwood explained why she decided to change the traditional kimono for this movie. Atwood states, “We wanted to see a shoulder, have the illusion of a waist and have a sense of breasts beneath the kimono. We are trying to honour [sic] ...

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...ime period. Also, the addition of selling ones virginity is a bad representation of geisha women and this movie should not be considered a good definition of a true geisha.

Works Cited

Chumbley, Atasuko. "True Geishas." Telephone interview. 14 Apr. 2011.

"The Costumers Guide to Movie Costumes." The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes. Maggie. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. .

Desilet, Gregory. "Memoirs of a Geisha: Melodrama or Tragic Drama?" Gregory Desilet Homepage Featuring Media Violence Studies. 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. .

Gallagher, John. "The Birth of Geisha 1750-1820." Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance, and Art. London: PRC, 2003. 115-16. Print.

Memoirs of a Geisha. Dir. Rob Marshall. Perf. Zhang Ziyi. Spyglass Entertainment, 2005. DVD.

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