Sukhjit Hothi Ms. Heog ENG3U0-C 12/8/11 Memoirs of a Geisha: a Film/Novel Comparative On several occasions an award-winning novel is converted into a beautiful visual masterpiece that manages to entrance and stun the audience. The director captures the author‟s vision and portrays it with ease. However, there are times when the director lacks what the author was strongly trying to display. In the film adaption of the novel, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, the director Rob Marshall attempts to showcase the life of a Geisha by telling the protagonist‟s story. Although he manages to nearly take all of the author‟s visions, he alters many things as well. By lacking in character development, removing the moral teachings and being unable to create a deep understanding for the audience, the film becomes a poor replica of the novel. The development of the main character is a key component to the story. Chiyo‟s childhood plays a significant role in her development as a character and is a solid foundation to the formation of the plot. “I‟ve never told more than a handful of people anything at all about Yorido, or about the house I grew up in, or about my mother and father, or my older sister-” (Golden 7). The novel takes a deep plunge into the life of Chiyo and focuses on the bonds that she had with her parents and older sister, which strongly affected her as a person. The behaviours of her family members played an important role in the development of her personality. The

The film and novel both present Hatsumomo. Chiyo‟s rival. impacts her future decisions and causes her to change her outlook on life.2 author portrays her as a witty and creative child that learns from her surroundings. The novel shows her deep admiration and care for Mr. Another important figure in her childhood. This barely allows the audience to understand where Chiyo is from and who she was as a person before she is taken away. which is not seen in the film. She sends a clear message to Chiyo that if the Okiya can‟t be hers. the film lacks in showing Chiyo‟s growth mentally. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and worst day of my life” (Golden 7). “„You hate anyone more successful than you‟” (Golden 76). “But the truth is that the afternoon I met Mr. especially competition that resides in her own Okiya. In the novel. nearly eliminates her childhood and starts the film from her departure. as a cruel and selfish person. Tanaka as a child. Tanaka Ichiro is also completely omitted in the film. His appearance in the novel. The director takes advantage of Hatsumomo‟s jealousy and to add excessive drama. Hatsumomo initiates a fire that burns down the Okiya. he is the main reason to why she is taken away from her home and placed into the Okiya. In a fit of rage. depicts an in depth growth and maturity of the main character while the film manages to skim just the top. The director Rob Marshall. This is different from Arthur Golden‟s vision. However. escalates her emotions and alters her departure. Memoirs of a Geisha. Hatsumomo is perceived as the type that doesn‟t enjoy competition. He continues to focus predominately on the rest of her life and makes few connections to her past. Mr. Memoirs of a Geisha shows the decline in Hatsumomo‟s . Tanaka is another key component in the development of Chiyo‟s character. the author clearly tries to indicate that the feud between Chiyo and Hatsumomo is instigated due to the envy that Hatsumomo feels. Mr. The moral lessons taught in life are later on perceived as guidance when making decisions. then neither can it be Chiyo‟s.

However the film centres around the simplicity of beauty rather than the insight that novel was giving. The novel shows of Chiyo immigrating with the Chairman to New York. the author. just like a . leaves it to the audience to form their own ending. The novel goes into great detail of the events that transpire after Chiyo is reunited with the Chairman while the film leaves the audience in suspense. Chiyo says. a constant character. is seen as physically unappealing. The author strongly sends the message that what is on the inside is far more important when he creates an intense bond between Chiyo and Mr. all too soon they bleed into a wash. if you are beautiful you have everything. The respectable and compelling morals taught in the novel are lost in the film adaption. Mr. “These are not the memoirs of an empress. however we may suffer them. not others. shows the struggles that come along with beauty. Unlike the film. In an act of despair. Unable to bear this. The novel also focuses strongly on the moral lesson of beauty is only skin deep.. these are the memoirs of another kind” (Memoirs of a Geisha). At the end of the film. or of a queen.a bit peculiar-looking‟” (Golden 194). Arthur Golden. In the world of Geisha. Being able to have a deeper understanding allows the audience and reader to paint a vivid image in their head on the events that are occurring. It demonstrates that envy can only harm you. Rob Marshall. Nobu. an older version of Chiyo says.‟ she said to me. It lacks in detail of the trouble that comes along with constantly trying to create perfection. Hatsumomo embarrasses herself instead of Chiyo. United States where she opens a teahouse that entertains men. teaching a moral lesson. gives the main character the ending he believes she deserves while the film director. she loses the last traces of sanity she possess and disappears indicating that she was unable to confront her demons.3 sanity and how the jealousy consumes her life. “Whatever our struggles and triumphs. Memoirs of a Geisha. Nobu. “‟I should tell you. at the end.. „that Nobu is.

The promises and practices that came along with this lifestyle were picked to the core in the novel. giving the reader a realization that this form of life was definitely not easy. With it‟s under developed characters. the film in its own right. although the struggles and triumphs that she faced throughout her life time at that point were important. the director failed to captivate the story of an artist. was truly beautiful with its mesmerizing cinematography and outstanding cast but it lacked in detail that the novel was greatly known for. a place of only beauty. In conclusion. as time progresses they fade. Subsequently. Descending into the secretive world of Geisha.4 watery ink on paper” (Golden 428). the author described the trials and tribulations of the female artists‟ with utmost intensity while the film merely gave an overview. “„We create another secret world. This allows the reader to comprehend that. The very word „geisha‟ means artist and to be geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art‟”(Memoirs of a Geisha). . absence of important moral teachings and inability to grasp the fine details of the novel. the film also was incapable of portraying the life of a Geisha the way that the novel did.

2005.. Michelle Yeoh. DVD. Rob Marshall. New York: Random House INC. Dir. Ken Watanabe. Memoirs of a Geisha. Columbia Pictures. Memoirs of a Geisha. Perf. . Zhang Ziyi. Gong Li.5 Bibliography Golden. Youki Kudoh. 1998. Suzuka Ohgo. Arthur . Print.