Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Geisha girls

Just to finish commenting on the excellent points made on Memoirs of a Geisha... Yes, Valerie, you're absolutely right about the ending giving us too much information, and like Helen S, I'm jumpy with it being America. Please understand me - I in no way say the film is better than the book. It's not nearly as good, in my view. However, it's a cinematic experience and I am delighted to have seen it, and I did enjoy the casting which put flesh on the bones of some of the characters (while the directing also, as Valerie says, removed dimensions from most of them). Pumpkin was an example of this fleshing out. Like Val, it's easy to feel that her transformation is rather sketchily done. But in the film, Pumpkin's visual transformation when war comes is startling, and (I thought) very convincing. To then discover that she's changed allegiances too seems only reasonable, given the very different side of her personality we've just been seeing. In the book, I didn't really absorb the impact of her change in profession, but her brassy and yet financially successful re- incarnation as a woman overtly for sale in the film version brought it home to me. I know they're all for sale in some form, but the gradations were clearly - and silently - in evidence. Pumpkin's ingenious, vulgar Geisha-style get-up was also a commentary on how cultures can cash in on tourists' baser instincts. I'm sure Val is right that it's the romantic ending which divides us. She regards it as being an apology for the system, wheras most of us seem to be experiencing it more as a merciful end to that particular story, ie as less pertinent to the geisha system, and only really relating to the particular characters involved (and helping sell way more novels). But fascinating to find myself on the "I can cope with this bleak stuff" side of a discussion!