Memoirs of a Geisha

Original Title: Memoirs of a Geisha
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Written by: Robin Swicord, Arthur Golden (Novel)
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Music by: John Williams
Country: USA
Genres: Drama, Romance
Duration: 145 min
Release Date: 23 December 2005 (USA)
Filming Dates: 24 September 2004 – 31 January 2015
Filming Locations: USA (Los Angeles, Sacramento), Japan (Kyoto)

Synopsis:
In the 1920s, 9-year-old Chiyo gets sold to a geisha house. There, she is forced into servitude, receiving nothing in return until the house’s ruling hierarchy determines if she is of high enough quality to service the clientele — men who visit and pay for conversation, dance and song. After rigorous years of training, Chiyo becomes Sayuri, a geisha of incredible beauty and influence. Life is good for Sayuri, but World War II is about to disrupt the peace. -IMDb

Cast

Zhang Ziyi
Sayuri

Michelle Yeoh
Mameha

Gong Li
Hatsumomo

Ken Watanabe
Chairman

Kōji Yakusho
Nobu
Photos

Production stills

Captures

More pictures

Videos

Trailers

1:01 min   |   204 views
3:16 min   |   195 views
2:33 min   |   225 views

Movie clips

Articles
Feb 09, 2021
South China Morning Post
Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi’s 5 best performances
Sep 19, 2016
Asian American Press
In Conversation with Zhang Ziyi at TIFF16
Sep 19, 2013
The Wall Street Journal
Armed With Zhang Ziyi, American Director Takes On Chinese Rom-Com
Sep 15, 2013
Today Online
The Unexpurgated interview with Zhang Ziyi and Wang Leehom
Aug 22, 2013
NPR
'Grandmaster' Ziyi Zhang: 'I Can Do Better Than Just Kicking Ass'
Aug 19, 2013
Women Wear Daily
Ziyi Zhang’s Grand Gestures
Aug 16, 2013
Newsweek
The Martial Artist
Nov 01, 2012
Flaunt
However ornate our lives: Zhang Ziyi
Aug 14, 2011
GB Times
Actress Zhang Ziyi is China's pride
Jun 23, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
Zhang Ziyi’s Favorite Films
Feb 10, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
Unhappy Birthday: CCTV Questions Zhang Ziyi’s Quake Donations
Sep 21, 2008
Macau Tatler
The Real Zhang
Apr 02, 2008
Independent
Zhang Ziyi: 'I don't just want to kick ass'
Jan 01, 2008
South China Morning Post
A Hard Act to Follow
Mar 28, 2007
Phoenix TV
Interview
Oct 28, 2006
CNN Talk Asia
Zhang Ziyi on CNN Talk Asia
Jun 01, 2006
Interview
Ziyi
Apr 30, 2006
Face to Face (CCTV)
Zhang Ziyi: A Chinese Look
Apr 27, 2006
Eastern Horizon (CCTV)
Eastern Horizon Interview
Apr 24, 2006
Global Times
Really proud of being a Chinese
Apr 23, 2006
Washington Post
This 'Crouching Tiger' Tames Her Audience
Apr 20, 2006
China Daily
After delay, Zhang Ziyi's 'Jasmine Women' finally blossoms
Apr 19, 2006
People's Daily
"How many Chinese films have you watched, president Bush?"
Apr 23, 2006
Beijing Youth Weekly
Interview
Feb 12, 2006
The Philippine Star
The Westernization of Ziyi Zhang
Feb 04, 2006
The Freeman
Zhang Ziyi, Sayuri
Jan 25, 2006
BBC News
The memorable Ziyi Zhang
Jan 10, 2006
BBC Movies
"I never thought that one day I could be in this story"
Jan 04, 2006
The Star Online
Z for Ziyi
Jan 03, 2006
The Daily Telegraph
Ziyi Zhang talks about Memoirs of a Geisha
Jan 01, 2006
Esquire
A Woman We Love: Ziyi Zhang
Jan 01, 2006
Town & Country
Ziyi Zhang: Face of the Future
Dec 10, 2005
The Times of London
Amazing Grace
Dec 07, 2005
Today
‘Geisha’ under fire for casting choices
Nov 23, 2005
Femail
Ziyi Zhang Memoirs of a Geisha Interview
Nov 23, 2005
Blackfilm
Memoirs of a Geisha New York Interview
Oct 01, 2005
Interview
Ziyi Zhang by Natalie Portman
Aug 20, 2005
China Daily
Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi grows into int'l star
Jul 31, 2005
New York Daily News
In the Mood for Zhang Ziyi
Feb 20, 2005
The New York Times
A Star Rises in the East
Jan 20, 2005
Pop Entertainment
Seeing the Martial Arts Mistress in Action
Dec 16, 2004
Now Toronto
Zhang Ziyi Redefines Action
Dec 12, 2004
The Times
Zhang Ziyi already an icon
Dec 12, 2004
Boston Herald
Zhang's action career flying high in U.S.
Dec 08, 2004
IGN Filmforce
Interview: Zhang Ziyi
Dec 03, 2004
The Orange County Register
Taking a Stab at Stardom
Oct 09, 2004
The Times
Zhang Ziyi punching above her weight
Sep 23, 2004
The Independent
Zhang Ziyi: Hidden heroine on the warpath
Sep 01, 2004
The Guardian
Flying High
More articles
Bonus

• Steven Spielberg, Brett Ratner, Spike Jonze and Kimberly Peirce all considered directing this film. It took a lot of negotiating to get Rob Marshall to direct this film. Since he directed the hit film Chicago for Miramax, he owed his next film to them. This is a DreamWorks film. It was only because Miramax and DreamWorks have a long history of borrowing talent from each other that they were able to work out a deal.
• Maggie Cheung was once considered for the role of Mameha.
• John Williams passed on scoring the fourth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in favor of scoring this film.
• Yunjin Kim turned down a leading role.
• According to Colleen Atwood, the costume designer, 250 hand-tailored kimonos were made for the film. She also said that their prints, patterns and colors are bigger and bolder than traditional kimonos.
• The actresses had a six-week crash course on geisha culture.
• Mari Iijima auditioned for one of the roles in this movie during the first round of pre-production in 1998.
• The film was banned in China because Chinese actresses play Japanese geisha. The national film board and the Office for the Administration of Radio, Film and Television claimed that it was banned because the storyline is “too sensitive”.
• Ziyi was allergic to the contact lenses that she had to wear for her role as Sayuri.
• The film was heavily criticized by Asian critics for having Chinese actresses portraying the geishas. In reality, according to producer Lucy Fisher, the producers held an open day for audition for Japanese actresses to audition for those roles. None turned up and they had to turn to other Asian actresses for casting.
• The film’s winter light effect was discovered incidentally days before production. With the silk rigged to prevent rain water from damaging the set, the rigging crew attempted to emulate daylight during night. Gaffer John Buckley threw 3/4 lights from top to bottom of the set through the silk. Thus was the result and it was what Dion Beebe got which he went on to win Best Cinematographer of 2005.
• Neither Gong Li nor Suzuka Ohgo could speak English at the time of filming.
• Youki Kudoh had to work with dialect coaches and re-learn how to speak with a Japanese accent as although in real life having been born in Japan, speaks with an American accent from living in the USA for a good portion of her life.
• Although never fully elaborated on, the dance on stage that Sayuri performs tells the story of a woman who suspects her husband of infidelity and waits outside in the snow to catch her husband leaving his mistress; unfortunately a blizzard sweeps over the land and she succumbs to the elements. In the novel, it was Mameha who performs this dance.
• Youki Kudoh auditioned for the role of Sayuri but lost out to Ziyi.
• When Mameha declines from attending the Baron’s party, Hatsumomo viciously asks ‘taking care of a little nuisance?’. While never fully divulged in the film, the book goes onto explain that Mameha had gone for an abortion.
• The makeup the Geisha’s wear early in this movie is less traditional and more modern so that it translates to a more modern audience; a Geisha of the time rarely ever fully painted her lips, and would either paint the bottom lip, just the top, or partially the center of both. The full painting of lips did not come until after the forties and the fifties, with the increase of Western culture and style. —IMDb
• On a visit to Tokyo to promote the film, Zhang Ziyi received a mysterious parcel and letter, revealed to have been sent by an elderly Japanese woman who had once worked as a geisha. In her letter, the woman stated that she had been touched by the trailer of the film and expected the movie to bring back fond memories for her and her friends. Inside the parcel were several exquisitely worked antique kimonos. Zhang Ziyi was moved to tears by the gesture and sent the woman an invitation to the film’s Japanese premiere. She also promised to wear one of the kimono to the event as a sign of her gratitude.
• In an episode of The Birth of an Actor, Ziyi shared her experience of a working on a specific scene that involved Gong Li’s character slapping her for insulting her:

Zhang said that she and Gong discussed how to perform the scene before they started shooting and the latter said that they should do it for real so not to make the scene look fake. Zhang stated that although she agreed to it, even telling Gong that it doesn’t matter how she does it “as long as it works”, she was extremely nervous when it was time to shoot it. “My lips were shaking, and my eyelids were trembling,” she said. In the end, said Zhang, she was slapped at least seven times before they had the best take. “When I went back to remove my make-up, I realised that there were palm prints on my face. Although it was hard, I really benefitted a lot from working with a senior like Gong Li,” she said.

-Yahoo News

Awards and Nominations
Ceremony Category Recipient Result
2005 California on Location Awards Location of the Year Mike Fantasia Won
Production Company of the Year Won
2005 National Board of Review Top Ten Films Won
Best Supporting Actress Gong Li Won
2005 New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Won (3rd)
2005 Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Costume Design Collen Atwood Won
2005 Satellite Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Gong Li Nominated
Outstanding Director Rob Marshall Nominated
Outstanding Sceenplay Robin Swicord Won
Outstanding Art Direction John Myhre Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography Dion Beebe Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Collen Atwood Nominated
Outstanding Original Score John Williams Nominated
2005 Washington DC Film Critics Association Best Screenplay Arthur Golden Nominated
2006 Academy Awards Best Art Direction John Myhre Won
Best Cinematography Dion Beebe Won
Best Costume Design Collen Atwood Won
Best Music John Williams Nominated
Best Sound Editing Wylie Stateman Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Kevin O’Connell Nominated
2006 American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Cinematography Dion Deebe Won
2006 Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design John Myre Won
2006 Australian Cinematographers Society International Awards Dion Deebe Won
2006 Australian Film Institute Excellence in Cinematography Dion Deebe Won
2006 BAFTA Awards Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated
Best Cinematography Dion Deebe Won
Best Costume Design Collen Atwood Won
Best Production Design John Myhre Nominated
Best Make Up/Hair Noriko Watanabe Nominated
Anthony Asquith Award John Williams Won
2006 British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography Dion Deebe Nominated
2006 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Picture Nominated
Best Composer John Williams Won
Best Soundtrack Nominated
2006 Casting Society of America Best Casting Francine Maisler Nominated
2006 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
2006 Cinema Audio Society Best Sound Mixing Kevin o’Connell Nominated
2006 Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Costume Design Collen Atwood Won
2006 Golden Globe Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Won
2006 Image Awards Outstanding Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated
2006 Italian Syndicate of Film Journalists Best Editing Pietro Scalia Won
2006 MTV Movie Awards Sexiest Performance Zhang Ziyi Nominated
2006 Motion Picture Sound Editors Best Dialogue Mixing Renee Tondelli Won
Best Music Editing Ramiro Belgardt Nominated
Best Sound Effects Editing Wylie Stateman Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated
2006 Visual Effects Society Awards Best Supporting Visual Effects Robert Stromberg Nominated
2006 Young Artist Awards Best Family Film Nominated
Best Supporting Young Actress Suzuka Ohgo Won
2007 Grammy Awards Best Soundtrack John Williams Won