Memoirs of a Geisha: Did the movie do the book justice?

Hello again!

Before I get into my review, I just have a quick update. In order to speed things along, I’ll be reading books that I’ve already seen the movie version of. This way, I can get more reviews done in less time! YAY!

That being said, I would still like any suggestions of books and movies I should review. I’ll just have to watch the movie first 🙂

Now, onto the good stuff…

Book vs. Movie

As I said in my firs post about Memoirs of a Geisha, I had already seen the movie when I decided to read the novel. I loved the movie, and I still do. It does a very good job of giving the audience a view into the mind of Chiyo (later known as Syuri) and all the complex feelings and emotions of a geisha.

Memoirs of a Geisha DVD Poster However, I was extremely pleased that the book gave even more insight into the mind of                    Chiyo/Syuri and the world of the geisha.

I really enjoyed reading about the fashion of the kimono and all of the tradition and rules that come with the life of a geisha.

As Erin Miller says in her review, the book is better than the movie (which I have found to be the case in many situations). Be that as it may, I still love the movie and would highly reccomend seeing it and reading the movie, in any order. I think anyone who enjoys learning about other cultures will really enjoy this pair.

Favorite Scene

I suppose “favorite” isn’t the best way to describe this scene but it definitely had a strong effect on me. It’s the part of the novel (and movie) where Sayuri’s virginity is auctioned off. As Mel u. says in her blog, The Reading Life, no one in this part comes out looking good.

The most disturbing part about this, to me at least, is that Sayuri is only fourteen years old when her virginity is auctioned off. I could not imagine having to go through this, especially at that young of an age.

Interesting Fact

What I found most interesting was actually in the translator’s note at the beginning of the novel. Though Memoirs of a Geisha is a fictional story, the translator’s note is told by the fictional Professor Jakob Haarhuis and makes it seem as though the story could be real. John Morley explains it more in his article Working Woman.

The translator’s note gives an account of an older Sayuri dictating her life to Haarhuis. This stood out to me because, though I knew geisha do exist in other parts of the world, I never really gave much thought to their background stories or where they end up when they become to old to work any longer.

I really like the part the author added in about Sayuri asking him to not release the story until all of the men she had mentioned had died. I thought that was a sweet touch giving another aspect of the character’s personality.

Coming Soon

These next two weeks, I will be posting about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Once again, feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions.

See you next time,



6 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Geisha: Did the movie do the book justice?

  1. I watched the film aggges ago and read the book, and whilst I accepted the book was written in English (I’m afraid I have yet to learn Japanese!), I was disappointed that the film was in English. I would have really loved to have seen the film in Japanese with English subtitles. What did you think?

    • jnhedman says:

      I can appreciate that they filmed in English, not only because that’s the language the book was published in, but because it would reach a much larger audience. I definitely think it would have felt more authentic had they filmed in Japanese and I can remember thinking “I wish they had more of an accent.” I think even that would have helped to at least make the fact it was set in Japan more believable. However, I honestly don’t think I would have watched the movie if I hadn’t read the book first. Which is sad, because I’m sure it would be great.

  2. Laughon says:

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  3. Flash Memory says:

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  4. Margaret says:

    I have to say I loved the book AND the movie. It has been at least a year since I have seen/read either of them, and sometimes it’s hard to recall if details were from the movie or the book. But, thinking back on that, I guess I feel that both sources painted a full picture on the life of Sayuri. I watched the movie first, and from that, I was able to see an (hopefully) accurate depiction of the life and culture of geisha women. Then through the book, I learned more details and certainly the harsh reality of the geisha culture. Thanks I enjoyed the post !

  5. Lauren King says:

    I really am beginning to love this website. I love the reviews on what people are thinking when they read books and see the movie. Since I like to wait until movies come out on dvd and wait to read books that go with it. It really gives me an insight on what I should do. I also really like how you break things down. Awesome!

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