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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Book vs. Movie

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Courtesy of Vintage Books

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden appeared on the bestsellers lists eight years after it was first published thanks to the release of a film version of the book. As a book lover and an avid movie-goer, I was eager to read the book and see whether the film stacked up to it.

My Take on the Book

Memoirs of a Geisha is a wonderful book, full of beautiful descriptions and a page turning story. It is written as if it is a true story, and the voice is very believable. For those who enjoy love stories, it is a must read. Those who like history or learning about other cultures will also be pleased. The book accomplishes the difficult task of being entertaining, informative and believable at the same time.

Could a Movie Do Justice to the Story?

After I read Memoirs of a Geisha with my book club, we were eager to see the movie version of the story. If you are anything like me, then you feel both excitement and dread when you hear that one of your favorite books is being made into a movie. On the one hand, you enjoyed the book so much that you can't wait to experience it again. On the other hand, you know only too well the disappointment of leaving a movie theater in utter frustration because they left out your favorite part of the book, or combined two characters into one, or just didn't seem to get it.

Before seeing the movie, I had a hard time believing the film version of Memoirs would be able to capture Chiyo's complex feelings about the life that was thrust upon her. The book is both beautiful and disturbing, with sadness and hope permeating the whole story. My book club was torn about whether we were happy for Chiyo or appalled by the lot of geishas. Could a film capture the details that made the story seem so real and so riveting?

I went into the theater nervous, but came out pleasantly surprised. The movie was not as good as the book. Of course the script had to eliminate characters and leave out scenes. That's the nature of transforming 400 pages into two hours. I would recommend that people read the book first, but not because the film is a poor substitute for the book; rather, the film is an excellent supplement to the book. In fact, I recommend that anyone who has read the book see the movie.

My Take on the Movie

The film is beautiful. Throughout the book there are descriptions of kimonos, tea ceremonies and traditional dances. Since I know very little about Japanese culture, I had a hard time imagining these things. This is where the movie comes in. Watching the movie was like experiencing a whole new layer of story. The scene in the movie where Chiyo dances is amazing, and was much more captivating than what I imagined when I was reading the book. In my opinion, this scene alone makes the movie worthwhile.

If I had to choose between the book and the movie, I would still recommend the book by a long shot. However, after reading it, you are sure to want more. So, why choose? Enjoy them both. I did.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
good title. got me to read the book, Member glennodunham

I read the book and enjoyed it immensly. When I was in the Navy I got to visit Japan and while I was stationed in Hawaii I met a lot of Japanese Americans and got hooked on their dress, religions and ceremonies. That's while I was in my early twenties. When the book came out I was in my sixties and knew I had to read it. I couldn't believe the it was written by a man because he wrote about the subject as if he were living it. I immedeately reccomended the book to my daughters who both thought it is one of the most beautifull stories they had ever read. My daughters are well educated business women and I knew befor I told them about the book they'd fall in love with it. We three have seen the movie and rate it right up there with the book because the movie fills in the colors you could only imagine and puts faces and expressions to the chacters making them come alive in a way the book can't. I reccomend reading the book first then see the movie because neither took anything away from the other, they enhanced the total experience. I worked for a large publishing house in the trade division and can't remember a better combination of book and movie.

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