Director: Hideo Gosha
Studio: Koch International
Authors: Koji Takada, Tomiko Miyao
U. S. Release Date: Feb. 10th. 2009
U. S. Distributor: AnimEigo
Format: DVD / 144 minutes
Age Rating: 18+
Overall Personal Rating: A-
Similar Titles: The Secret Life of a Geisha and Memoirs of a Geisha.
In a time where class and position are the driving factors of society, the rivalries and struggles for recognition can have a long lasting effect on the coming generations. The Geisha highlights such a story of the women in early 20th Century where is impossible to break the ties of environment and culture.
For a Geisha to bear a child it is unheard of and punishable by death. One of the top Geishas in 1933 was Momokawa and her mother was a Geisha that broke that rule. It was not unheard of for Geisha to become pregnant but to follow through with it was. Geisha are property of the Geisha House and these young ladies were sold into this life by their fathers and husbands to cover debt or to borrow money.
Momokawa’s mother was killed trying to escape and her father sold her to one of the most famous Geisha houses in Japan at the time. He then became a recruiter for the house and maintained his one patronage (young lady).
This film follows the rivalry of the two young women in Daikatsu’s life. His daughter Momokawa, who he sold at age twelve, and the young women who he patronizes,Tamako. Tamako wishes to become a Geisha and is turned away, her next choice is to just be a simple whore. Well, that did not work out to well and it lead to a cat fight in a night club. That fight lead to the Momokawa following her mother footsteps and becoming pregnant.
During this period there is also a struggle between the Yakuza and the Geisha House. The focal point between the two is Daikatsu and he becomes even more soft hearted toward the two women and more protective of the Geisha due to these struggles.
I found The Geisha to be a very complex story that interwove karma and genetic tendencies into a beautiful drama. To watch the daughter fall into the same trap her mother (whom she never knew) willfully fell into and produce a daughter that may inherit the genetic disposition.
The true highlight for this film was the way the Geisha house was portrayed; from the daily preparations, dances and performances, to the underbelly of the sex trade and the cold existence that these young women live under. At times I felt for these young ladies but at tougher times, I saw them a perpetuating their existence by being more than ready to do whatever they could to better their place inside the house.
This film gives a very cold look at Japanese society of the early 20th Century, which also happens to be very similar to the rest of the major societies of the day. Women have come a long way.
Overall Grade: A-
Hideo Gosha crafted a masterful portal of the Geisha life.
“In the Radius”:
If you enjoy films like The Geisha you should check out The Secret Life of a Geisha and Memoirs of a Geisha.
You can pick this up at Right Stuf.