A story like mine should never be told.
For my world is as forbidden as it is fragile.
Without its mysteries it cannot survive.
I certainly wasn’t born to the life of a Geisha.
Pure beauty, it’s hard to find. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of the most genuine, most lividly beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. Superficially-speaking, the costumes, scenery, aesthetic direction, and faces of the actors and actresses were gorgeous. More dramatically, however, was the beauty within the plot and concept of the movie. Contrary to popular belief, Memoirs digs deeper than the typical concept of a beautiful yet poor girl who finally achieves her dreams of happiness and glory. It’s not a “Cinderella story”, it’s an intense historic and personal character study.
Here in the Western world, we have prostitutes. We have mistresses. We have strippers. We have pornstars. The concept of a female career in which the job description includes grace, talent, and knowledge is completely foreign. Although I don’t necessarily condone the sexually-related side to a geisha’s profession, I do admire the fact that these women held valued assets outside of the bedroom.
It is upon the contrast between these valued artistic assets and sexuality to which Memoirs is precisely about. Throughout the entire extent of the film, the titular Sayuri struggles with these two clashing aspects of a geisha’s life. In the end, the two are rather pathetically reconciled, with Sayuri romantically going off into the sunset with her lover, knowing full well that she could never become his wife: simply his geisha. And yet, as the ending credits go up, one cannot help but mull over the beauty of the film. It’s sadness is what makes it so enchanting.
To a man, Geisha can only be half a wife.
We are the wives of nightfall.
And yet to learn of kindness…
…after so much unkindness.
To understand that a little girl with more courage than she knew,
would find that her prayers were answered.
Can that not be called happiness?
After all, these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen…
…these are memoirs of another kind.