Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (unusually) kept me occupied for several evenings whilst travelling through Asia (I have been known to read 3-4 books in a day!). I hadn’t realised until I started to read it, and found the odd bit of text slipping off the page, that I’d bought one of the notorious photocopied texts so easy to find in South East Asia (not much respect for intellectual property there!).
Stupid as it sounds, it hadn’t really registered in my consciousness that the author was male, and I certainly hadn’t realised that he was American. The author of the book appeared to have got into the mind of a Geisha so well, that many people believe that she was a real character – she’s not, she’s fictional, but he apparently did his research well!
So, last night, I borrowed my friend’s DVD and watched the film and all the extras. I can’t remember the ins and outs of the book, but with the time lapse, I certainly didn’t notice anything particularly jarring/missing, and really enjoyed the film, which was well-paced and intriguing. I enjoyed the extras even more (as always… watching the ‘Making of Shrek’ was very inspirational for writing a chapter on the way an artist approached poster design for my PhD), and it was fascinating to see how the authenticity was approached, with each actress undergoing 6 weeks of Geisha ‘boot camp’, working with Liza Dalby, the only western woman ever to become a Geisha (as a part of her PhD research).
Even more interesting was that the director/producer said that they looked to establish what were the rules/authenticity, and then looked for ways to re-interpret that in a more modern way that would work for film.