Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Memoirs of What??



I wish I hadn't gone. I wish I hadn't seen the movie, but I did. I went to see Memoirs of a Geisha, the film. Unlike some other readers I know, I read the novel the week before I saw the film. This had an unexpected result: I noticed every single difference in the film.

To begin with the positive attributes: the film from an aesthetic point of view was beautiful. Certainly many images would make good screen savers and wallpapers. I did think that the camera angles throughout the film and the lighting were not quite as flawless. The costumes were also breathtaking, and certainly gave the impression that someone had done their research. The textures of each kimono worn seemed to demonstrate the level of each geisha or maid or other character. I did appreciate this.

So to get to the dirt. As I am sure many of you already know, most of the actors and actresses in this movie are not Japanese, but Chinese. This main explain why the movie was not filmed in Japanese with subtitles. The film would have really benefitted if it was in Japanese, though it would not have fixed everything. At least the characters would been speaking English with Chinese accents and trying to pronounce Japanese words from time to time, which comes across as nothing but absurd. Perhaps Sony Pictures rather has famous actors that look Japanese than casting Japanese actors who are less well known but in my opinion, could add immensely to the film. In fact, I think this film would have been better (aside from the language issue) with less well known actors. After seeing the same actors again and again, the viewer sees less and less of the characters these actors are portraying and more of the actor's film history. I didn't find any of the performances by any of the actors to be very good, just average.

The novel, was written from the point of view of Sayuri. The film, on the other hand, isn't really from any particular character's point of view. Many of the funny and interesting observations of Sayuri in the novel, are completely lost in the film. This flaw, though seemingly minute, really minimizes the intimacy with Sayuri and therefore strips away a lot of the charm that I found in the novel.

In addition, so much of the history of geisha, of WWII, and of the story itself are completely lost in this film. The relationships in the film are watered down and stripped of all the complexity Golden took so much care to create. That was the most dissappointing thing for me.

If you haven't read the book, go and read it.
If you haven't seen the film yet...wait till it comes out on video. Don't waste your $$ on the $8-10 movie tickets, unless cinematography interests you enough to waste that money.

If you agree or disagree please leave a comment. I enjoy reading all types of feed back from readers.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

You talked me into buying the book.

I'm real high on the movie Pride and Prejudice. It was true to the book, well acted and directed.