Saturday, November 17, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha – Japanese history revisited!

Hi friends,

This movie reminded of the good-ol days of Bollywood (really old days I mean) when the movie had a story that went on and on and on, with a few punches in between. The movie was slow at the start and showed faint signs of hastening up, but to no avail. But it finally managed to pick up pace. It ended on a good note and that was it.

The movie was adapted from a book of the same name written by Arthur Golden. The book was controversial as it was said to have many facts fully negated by one of the supposed and mentioned contributors to the book – Mineko Iwasaki, herself a Geisha in her prime years till her sudden retirement. She was derided by many in her community for breaking the code of silence. She sued Arthur and the case was settled out-of-court.

The movie shows about the role of a geisha and their diminished importance after WW2. It showed that geishas are primarily “artists”, who fulfilled the desires of men who were in a marriage relationship that they never wanted in life. But hey, who says the girl wanted to get married to that man? In that case, are there any male geishas? There should be, considering the situation, but history has been always biased against the opposite sex, this movie being no exception.

The geishas were the cream of womanhood in the pre-war era of Japan. They were the so-called “Dream-girls” of their communities. They entertained people with their skills. But they were doomed never to get married or have a relationship. They were meant to be fully selfless and live for others. And the movie showed one geisha being almost banned.

The movie shows the aims and aspirations of a girl who was forced to become a geisha. She tries to run away and in the process fails to become a geisha as she disappoints her owner. But then, she impresses them again and in a bet made with the other main geisha, she proves her worth. She becomes a geisha just to the “Chairman” (thankfully it’s Japanese) once again, the person who gave a new meaning to her life. He helps her out in the time of the war and then returns to her to become her husband.

Simple? Well, the story has more to it, but this is how I saw it. One thing that struck me in the movie was the picturization – It was great! I felt as if I was transported back to the old Japan, the one which I learnt in my history books. That’s what makes a movie great – one in which the audience feels that they are a part of the era being shown. I saw this movie a long time ago, but I have to review it a bit late as I did not have the courage to write about it. Movies like this one are controversial and I need to keep the interests of my very-small audience in mind also.

My takeaways: Well, one point that I saw in the movie was that how one small act of generosity or kindness can make a huge difference. The “chairman” told the girl to cheer up and gave her confidence. At that age, the girl was frightened – She was alone on a street, just escaped from her “buyer” and does not know what to do. After hearing this from a stranger, she feels better and actually transforms her life! One small act of random kindness (ARK – remember “Evan Almighty”??) can make a huge difference.

My recommendations: See the movie if you like slow and predictable stuff. Don’t see it as an entertainer, see it more as a movie meant to stimulate and provoke you, something that makes you ponder and think it over once more. Then you will be able to appreciate what the director wants to show you – That love transcends all things in life, even death.


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