A Oh goodness, where to begin?
I enjoy the story told in “Memoirs.” It’s on of my favorite books. But the book is incredibly inaccurate, and the movie just took that inaccuracy and compounded it a hundred times over. A few things wrong:
– Geisha are portrayed as prostitutes. While there were definitely prostitutes working in Kyoto, and while there were definitely geisha who worked as prostitutes (usually at the hot springs resorts), the women in Gion (where “Memoirs” is set) were NOT PROSTITUTES. Seriously. Go do some research on geisha if you don’t believe me, there are so many English-language books and websites out there with real information about geisha that I think it’s about time this misconception died out.
– The kimono. In several scenes we see the women wearing their kimono with the left side closed over the right side. This is wrong. Only the dead wear kimono like that. Whether this was an actual costuming problem or something that happened in film editing, I don’t know, but this is a very important and very BASIC rule of kimono-wearing. See a picture of what I mean here: http://free-wallpapers.valentine-screensavers.com/movies/Memoirs_of_a_Geisha/Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_wallpaper2.jpg [This Web-link is no longer valid, but the image can be seen in a cache at the Wayback Machine Web Archive. ─Garnet Barcelo]
– Sayuri has some other costuming problems in that picture. She’s not wearing a obi-age, which is another very important and very basic part of kimono-wearing. Mameha has all the right accessories, but her kimono looks extremely wrinkled and the hem is sew unevenly. I can’t tell when this scene is supposed to take place, but even if her kimono had been in a box for years, the way kimono are folded virtually eliminates that tossed-in-a-box look, and Mamahe would have folded her precious kimono the right way. But that hemline is just atrocious. I collect kimono and every single one of mine have perfectly straight, even hems. Every kimono I’ve ever seen a real maiko or geisha wear has a perfectly straight hem too.
– And while we’re on the subject of kimono, it wasn’t at all unusual for Sayuri and Mameha to walk the streets in formal visiting wear…which you would never do unless you were going to or from formal visit. A geisha or maiko wears a type of kimono called a komon for everyday wear.
– The scenes where Sayuri and Mameha are at Mameha’s apartment to practice dancing. They’re dancing in their underwear. I have seriou doubts that would ever have happened.
– Sayuri’s dance at the special show. I think it’s supposed to be the Miyako Odori, or something like that. Anyway yeah, if you want to see a dance like that, you’re better off going to an onnagata. Tamasaburo Bando apparently has done stuff like that, and I could totally see Saotome Taichi doing it too. But geisha and maiko don’t dance like that. They just don’t.
– Sayuri’s makeup and hair. It’s so wrong it completely ruined the movie for me. To give you and idea of what’s so wrong about it, this is what a real maiko looks like: htttp://www.flickr.com/photos/23314901@N0…
This is what Sayuri looked like in the movie: http://www.londonnet.co.uk/ahoy/194/grap…
Her hair is…completely wrong, and her white make-up isn’t opaque enough. you can see her natural eyebrows through it, which you shouldn’t be able to do if she had done her makeup properly. The only person in the entire movie who comes close to a true maiko look is Pumpkin before the war, but I can’t find any pictures of her like that to compare.
– Sayuri dances at her very first geisha party. That would never happen. At her first party, Sayuri would be expected to sit quietly, look pretty, and observe…if she was a real maiko.
Basically, if you want a movie that’s interesting and fun and tells a nice story, this is great. If you’re looking for any kind of documentary on what maiko and geisha are like, don’t look for facts here. You would be much better off with any of the multi-part series, available on Youtube.
Start with these: http://www.theage.com.au/news/arts/tea-a…
Splash Work Animations // www.getsplash.piczo.com Uploaded on 9 Mar 2008
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