Epic romance comes to the big screen

Rob Marshall brings an exotic world to life in "Memoirs of a Geisha"

As Sayuri (Zhang) enters this hidden world, she is taught that a geisha is not free to love, or to pursue her own destiny. Her mentor, the legendary geisha Mameha (Yeoh), understands the limits of an intimate relationship with a special patron or danna, and teaches Sayuri to keep her feelings tightly reined. Unlike Sayuri’s defiant rival Hatsumomo (Gong), Mameha knows that a proper geisha cannot afford to indulge her passion for any man.

Rob Marshall savored the exotic world in which the story unfolds, but said he was just as taken by the universality of the young orphan’s plight, and her eventual triumph after an accidental meeting changes the course of her life.

“This story lives in a very specific world, and yet the underlying theme of the triumph of the human spirit against all odds connects to any culture,” said Marshall. “The fact that this one child, after being taken from her home and sold into slavery, can survive and ultimately find love is deeply moving to me. Especially when that love is forbidden to her.”

Among the book’s great strengths were Sayuri’s keen observations as she encounters a world that she (along with most readers) had never even imagined.

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