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Memoirs of a Geisha (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2005)

Ziyi Zhang , Ken Watanabe , Rob Marshall  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (510 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Suzuka Ohgo, Togo Igawa
  • Directors: Rob Marshall
  • Writers: Arthur Golden, Robin Swicord
  • Producers: Bobby Cohen, Douglas Wick, Gary Barber, John DeLuca, Lucy Fisher
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (510 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EHRVMY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,351 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Memoirs of a Geisha (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Rob Marshall and co-producer John DeLuca
  • Production Commentary by Costume Design Colleen Atwood, Production Design John Myhre and Editor Pietro Scalia
  • "Sayuri's Other Journey:  From the Novel to the Screen" featurette - Novelist Arthur Golden and the filmmakers discuss the 8-year journey of turning the best-selling book into an award winning film.
  • "The Road to Japan" featurette - the filmmakers travel to Japan to experience the places in Kyoto that are featured in the book and discuss the challenges of shooting in some of Japan’s most sacred locations.
  • "Geisha Bootcamp" featurette - A behind the scenes look at how the actresses learned the art of becoming geisha.
  • "Building the Hanamachi" featurette - Recreating the entire village of old Kyoto in a pasture in Southern California.
  • "The Look of a Geisha" featurette - The most famous Geisha were considered to be the supermodels of their time, learn the ancient secrets and modern twists to creating their hair, makeup and wardrobe for the film.
  • "The Music of Memoirs" featurette - John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman discuss the creative process of composing the Golden Globe® winning score.
  • "A Geisha’s Dance" featurette - We'll follow the entire process of staging these dances, from research into authentic geisha dance (illustrated with the archival footage that served as inspiration) through conception, casting sessions, rehearsals, on-the-set rehearsals, filming, and the final version in the movie.
  • "The World of the Geisha" featurette - A look at the history of this secret world, from its ancient origins up to the geisha of today.
  • "The Way of the Sumo" featurette - Explore the fascinating history of this ancient sport and meet some of today’s Sumo Wrestling champions.
  • "Rob Marshall" featurette - An in-depth look at Director Rob Marshall
  • "A Day with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa" featurette - World-renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa discusses his role in Memoirs and shares some of his favorite recipes.

Editorial Reviews

Additional Features

Given the film's high number of technical Oscar nods, it's not surprising that the DVD's second disc contains a whopping 11 featurettes. Each one covers an aspect of Geisha's lavish production, from set decorations to costume design to musical score (all of which were nominated). Another documentary, entitled "Sayuri's Journey: From Book to Screen," covers the adaptation of Arthur Golden's bestselling novel, while "Geisha Boot Camp" shows the arduous training the actresses went through to inhabit the grace and delicacy of their characters (trivia: their on-set consultant is an American, the only foreigner ever to become a geisha). Also astonishing is footage of Ziyi Zhang learning to walk--much less dance--in 12-inch platform flip-flops for her showstopping "snow" number. The other featurettes range from the in-depth (a profile of director Rob Marshall, including his personal relationship with producing partner John DeLuca) to the baffling (an entire supplement devoted to sumo wrestling, which is only featured in one scene in the film, and sushi recipes from famed Chef Nobu, who makes a cameo appearance in Geisha).

Marshall also weighs in on a detailed feature commentary, one of two for the DVD. In it he defends his controversial choice to cast Chinese actresses ("It's about who's the best actress," he says, mentioning how the search for talented women who could also speak English and dance well was no small feat) and gushes over Gong Li's commitment to her role every time she appears onscreen. But his best behind-the-scenes tale is securing the right to shoot scenes at a Japanese temple because the head monk happened to be a big fan of Chicago. And all that jazz, indeed. --Ellen A. Kim

Product Description

"... a visually stunning adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel." (Barry Caine, OAKLAND TRIBUNE) The director of Chicago, Rob Marshall, transports us into a mysterious and exotic world that casts a potent spell. A Cinderella story like no other, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA stars Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li. "Gorgeously photographed, meticulously directed and hypnotically acted. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is luxurious, ethereal and intoxicating. It will leave you breathless." (Rex Reed, NEW YORK OBSERVER)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I'm not sure we're all seeing the same movie here. One comment I keep hearing is that the actresses did not perform well, and I cannot comprehend it. Ziyi Zhang especially gave one of the best performances I have seen in years, at least. Just look at her physically shaking during her last scene with Ken Watanabe. This complete giving over to the emotion of the character is nearly unsurpassed in anything I've seen in years, and I'm a huge cinemaphile. That's not to mention the flawless way she carried the postures and demeanor of the child star that played her young self through-out, giving a sense of consistency that I have almost never seen done this well. It's early impossible to remember that these two actresses are not really the same person with the way their performances meshed. So, maybe it's the reserved nature of Asian women, and the dualing of this nature with a sense of individuality and self-expression that people are interpreting as "not understanding the character"?

All I can say is, the cinematography and settings are gorgeous, as are the actresses (and what a stellar cast!), the performances are great (maybe the bar has been lowered so much lately that the degree of skill brought to the screen here is more than some people can handle). That's the only reason I can offer for the bad reactions I have heard.

The story is involving, and very realistic in terms of human nature. The romance is wonderful. There are flashes of humor and some of the script is pure poetry (and as a poet you can believe me on that!) I could go on all day, but let me just say this.

The movie is awesome, and the time flew by for me.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful movie @}->--- February 18, 2006
Format:DVD
Memoirs of a Geisha is a stunning movie. I haven't read the book, but now wish I had. The movie is close to 2 1/2 hours long, but the story and scenery are so captivating, it seems so much quicker. The costumes are fantastic and it's no wonder they are nominated for Oscars.

It tells the story of a little girl called Chiyo who along with her older sister, is sold by their father who has no money. The people who bought her, want to make her a geisha so she goes off to school but brings disgrace to herself and therefore they make her their slave. Upon chance, she meets a kind man who buys her a sweet cherry ice cone. She never forgets him and sees him again by chance some years later. Now she has hope and learns again (in a crash course) how to be a geisha and her new name is Sayuri.

The story that unfolds from there has ups and downs but the ending is so moving that of course I cried my head off. The setting is beautiful and it made me want to go and visit Japan. The music too is lovely and I hope they do get some Oscars next week because it's a very deserving movie. There is also a great performance by an actress called Li Gong who plays 'Queen Bitch' Hatsumomo and look for a small role played by Ted Levine who we normally see in a funny role as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer in Monk.

Beautiful move that you absolutely have to see. (Especially on the big screen if you still can).
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film; wonderful performances November 6, 2006
Format:DVD
I read the novel this film is based on and loved it, so I was looking forward to the movie when it was released. I was pleased to see that the movie followed the book very closely. The film was absolutely beautiful, with arresting shots of the geisha as they went about their daily tasks and beautiful pans of the gorgeous faces of the actresses. There were also a few nice shots of (what was supposed to be) the Japanese countryside.

The film follws Chiyo (Sayuri), a young girl from the country who grows to become one of the most celebrated geisha in pre-war Japan. I know that there was a big stink when the film came out that some of the actresses cast were Chinese, rather than Japanese, but I say phooey on that. You cast an actor to play a role. I've seen plenty of straight actors turn in wonderfully nuanced performances of gay characters. I've seen plenty of older actors play roles that were younger than they were, and vice versa. So what? The director's job is to find the right actor for the role, and that actor may or may not be the exact nationality referred to in the script. The point is, does this performer tell the story?

And the performers in Memoirs of a Geisha definitely do. Ziyi Zhang (Chiyo/Sayuri), Li Gong (Hatsumomo), and Michelle Yeoh (Mameha) all give their characters a wonderful depth and subtext, and I really enjoyed them. I know that some critics also huffed about the movie being Westernized, with the actors all speaking English, etc. Wha . . . ? The movie is based on a book written by Arthur Golden, a middle-aged white guy from Tennessee. How can you get more Western than that? Anyway, I personally found the film to be a visual jewel with fabulous performances. I recommend it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and captivating June 10, 2006
Format:DVD
I read the book then watched the movie. The book is much more detailed, as they usually are, but the movie measured up to the book at a faster pace, yet still keeping to the story. I thought both were superb. I liked being able to put a face to all the characters, it made it more interesting for me. I thought the dancing in the movie was beautiful, classy, and hypnotic. Both the book and the movie just drew me in and I had a hard time putting down the book and watched the movie alone and with my husband.

I enjoyed it. I recommend reading the book first and then watching the movie.
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Rob Marshall was the wrong man to direct this film.
The weakest part of the film was the screenplay. But it wasn't, despite some complaints on the point, without emotion. Clue: geisha are emotionally repressed.
Oct 30, 2010 by JNagarya |  See all 5 posts
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