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Memoirs of a Geisha

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Jordan Cheresnowsky

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Memoirs of a Geisha

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Images from Shutterstock.com Circumstances of being a Geisha - Hollywood pulls on well-known themes to create
sympathy between the Asian characters and
Western audiences
- Female submission
- Mizuage
- No choice in who to love
- "If she is not properly dressed,
she is not a geisha." Cinematography and Music Water Imagery and Symbolism "To be a geisha is to be judged as a moving piece of art." "What do you think? A geisha is free to love? Never." Many pivotal points in Chiyo's/Sayuri's life involve some water related weather or environment
Just as water is believed to be an element associated with change and adaptability, Chiyo/Sayuri grows and changes just the same
Chiyo/Sayuri is water personified The camera:
Objectifies women
Romanticizes geisha The music:
Western composer/instruments
Fails to capture authentic WWII Kyoto Arthur Golden, 1997
Rob Marshall, 2005
Won: Best Art Direction (John Myhre and Gretchen Rau)
Won: Best Cinematography (Dion
Won: Best Costume Design (Colleen Atwood)
Nominated: Best Original Score (John Williams)
Nominated: Best Sound Editing (Wylie Stateman)
Nominated: Best Sound Mixing (Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Rick Kline and John Pritchett)
Backlash Background Unveiling Geisha Romance US Multiculturalism INTRODUCTION Subjugation of female sexuality/agency
Depicting (romanticized) lives of geisha
Women, war and military occupation
Empowering, but dangerous female sexuality Hollywood cinematic device
Creates a familiar plot that Western audiences can relate to
Transcendent love Presents Americans in negative but historically accurate portrayal in a modern-day multicultural coexistence mentality.
Feel good movie for (White) Western audiences, because it asserts US’s current progressive multicultural climate Female sexuality and agency vs. socio-cultural structures.
Geisha power activate! War as a symbolically masculine force that disables/controls female sexuality.
Blurred line between geisha and prostitutes
Prepares Sayuri for the Chairman's redemptive love, thereby resolving potential crisis of female independence. Conclusion Through themes commonly seen in Asian themed movies, such as female agency vs. classical patriarchy, transcendent romance, military turmoil, Hollywood creates a connection between the Western audience and Asian characters. However, these familiar themes cast the Japanese culture as morally inferior to Western standards. Although Memoirs of a Geisha has potential educational and political value, since it celebrates geisha culture and portrays international relationships during and after WWII, they are impaired by the implementation of excessive Asian cultural elements and exaggeration of romance as a cinematic device. Nonetheless, Memoirs of a Geisha is a visually striking American re-presentation of one of Japan's most fascinating cultural legacies. “A story like mine should never be told, for my world is as forbidden as it is fragile. Without its mysteries, it cannot survive.”
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