A brilliant, harshly realistic movie about a society that did exist, and still has memories today.
I loved this movie. First of all two of the best actresses of the modern screen era Li Gong, and Zhang Ziyi play the two lead roles. That is like having Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep in a movie together! But yes, Americans – please have enough respect to pronounce their names correctly – in China – surname first, given name second. And, yes, these were Chinese ladies playing Japanese geishas'.
The story itself is heartbreaking, uplifting, disappointing, and tragic. This woman, who goes from being sold by her family, to becoming a chattel slave to a geisha mistress, to becoming a geisha, to losing the only hope for the great love of her life to …. Well the end. Watch it. And see the end.
The acting is simply superb. The costumes – brilliant and historically correct. The scenes of the streets, the chambers, the silky, wafting illusions of beautiful young women floating into the fantasies of men who could lust for them, but not touch them. Wonderful.
It is nevertheless about the ruthless exploitation of women. Of a systemic powerlessness of women. You cannot escape that message in this movie. But you likewise cannot escape the incredible resilience, cleverness, defiance, and hopeful sacrifice of one woman for another in this movie. It is not all about the exploitation of women. It is also, and very much about the strength, courage, resilience, camaraderie, and hope in the face of seemingly never ending exploitation of women, that only women can express and understand. And yet, sometimes, women do succeed , are victorious, and even in the worst cases - they survive.
Well, I am not a woman. Maybe I got it wrong. But that is what I saw and felt. So ladies, correct me please if I got it wrong.
This is one of the great movies of all time: story, acting, cinematography, scenes, costumes, and flow of the storyline.