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Year: 2005
USA: Columbia Pictures
UK: Buena Vista International UK
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Kaori Momoi, Youki Kudoh, Li Gong, Kenneth Tsang, Ted Levine, Paul Adelstein, Brannon Bates, Michael Chen, Tsai Chin, Chad Cleven, Carrie 'CeCe' Cline, Craig H Davidson, Cameron Duncan, Takayo Fischer, Samantha Futerman, Togo Igawa, Thomas Ikeda, Yurika Izumi, Randall Duk Kim, Michael Kuroiwa, Alison Zoe Leung, Jim Leung, Julia Ling, Mako, Danton Mew, Laura Miro, Diane Mizota, Ryan Moriarty, Neal Naito, Ken Ng, Navia Nguyen, Minae Noji, Suzuka Ohgo, Jia Perlich, Mami Saito, Faith Shin, Ton Suckhasem, Elizabeth Sung, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Steve Terada, Nikki Tuazon, Ren Urano, Zoe Weizenbaum, James D Weston II, Takeo Lee Wong, Ace Yonamine, Eugenia Yuan, Karl Yune
Director: Rob Marshall
Country: USA
USA & UK: 145 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content
UK Certificate: 12A contains moderate sex scenes and emotional intensity
USA Release Date: 23 December 2005
USA Release Date: 9 December 2005 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 13 January 2006

UK Distributor


"My world is as forbidden as it is fragile; without its mysteries, it cannot survive."

Set in a mysterious and exotic world, which still casts a potent spell today, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA begins in the years before World War II in 1929, near the end of the geishas' golden era. Told as a fable from a disappearing world, the film is set in a fictional hanamachi or geisha district.

A Japanese child is torn from her penniless family to work as a servant in a geisha house. As Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang) enters this hidden world, she is taught that a geisha is not free to love, or to pursue her own destiny. Her mentor, the legendary geisha Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), understands the limits of an intimate relationship with a special patron or danna, and teaches Sayuri to keep her feelings tightly reined. Unlike Sayuri's defiant rival Hatsumomo (Gong Li), Mameha knows that a proper geisha cannot afford to indulge her passion for any man.

Despite a treacherous rival who nearly breaks her spirit, the girl blossoms into the legendary geisha Sayuri. Beautiful and accomplished, Sayuri captivates the most powerful men of her day, but is haunted by her secret love for the one man beyond her reach. Sayuri cannot forget a moment of unexpected kindness she experienced at an early age. The memory of that moment shimmers like a mirage, and sustains her through years of suffering. Looking back at her life, she remembers "a little girl with more courage than she knew," and reflects, "These are not the memoirs of an Empress, nor of a Queen. These are memoirs of another kind."

In 1997, novelist Arthur Golden offered readers an intoxicating and riveting story of a hidden world in his acclaimed novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. The sweeping romantic epic spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list, sold more than four million copies in English, and has been translated into 32 languages.

Now, Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall (CHICAGO) and producers Lucy Fisher, & Douglas Wick and Steven Spielberg, along with an acclaimed international cast and an award-winning behind-the-camera team have brought this mesmerizing fable to the screen.

Butterflies of the Night

Geisha have long been figures of fascination in Japan and throughout the world. For centuries, they have emerged from their homes at dusk like butterflies from a cocoon for a night's round of teahouse engagements. Social evenings have always been an important part of business in Japan, and the presence of geisha reflects well on the host who can afford such glamorous companions.

Neither wife nor prostitute, a geisha is an artist who earns her living entertaining powerful men. The word gei (pronounced gay) means "art" in Japanese. A geisha is a trained dancer, singer and musician, as well as a witty conversationalist. She laughs at her client's jokes and never tells his secrets. She creates drama with a simple flick of her fan.

Years of hard work and self-discipline have transformed her into this refined creature, but underneath her binding layers of kimono and neutral mask of make-up is a flesh and blood woman with her own history, disappointments and dreams. The secrets she guards most closely belong to her own heart.

The geisha districts described so vividly in Arthur Golden's novel still exist today, and authentic geisha continue to entertain in elegant old teahouses. They dress, groom themselves and perform as geisha have for centuries. Women who become geisha today are often drawn to the profession through an interest in the traditional arts and may remain in it only a few years. Once their country's most fashionable women, top geisha were the supermodels of their day until "modern" came to be defined as Western in Japan.

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