Today’s movie (loving these long weekends) is Memoirs of a Geisha. Apparently the film caused controversy when it was made because of the casting of three Chinese actors in lead roles. The acting was for the most part sensitive and scaled to suit, although at times I felt the actors seemed ‘busted’ for acting, looking around, oh dear, and then carried on. I guess there’s a challenge in acting Japanese while speaking in English.
I’m unsure if the movie is accurate to the book, and equally uncertain if the book is accurate and faithful to the realities of life in those times – or whether the real story was a western perspective of how geisha life might’ve been. I suspect a more accurate picture might be built up by reading the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.
Visually the movie is delicious, but, mostly, I loved the restrained John Williams sound track, with Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Itzhak Perlman on violin, and Pro Musica Nipponia Ensemble convincingly presenting a soundscape to enhance the rich imagery. I thought it was interesting that in the scenes with western music I was reaching for the volume control, whereas previously the music was so complementary I hadn’t needed to adjust the volume. I was struck that Williams had composed music to set the actors, rather than the usual approach where the composer writes for the overall scene. With, or perhaps even better without the movie, the music is fascinating and beautiful.