*Read John Williams’ biography here
Memoirs of a Geisha
This 2005 movie is based on the novel by Arthur Golden. Steven Spielberg acted as producer, leaving the directing to Rob Marshall. It stars Ziyi Zhang in the lead role with Michelle Yeoh supporting.
The movie tells the story of a young Japanese girl who is sold by her poverty-stricken family to a geisha house. The girl eventually becomes one of the most celebrated geisha of her time.
For this film Williams incorporated a full orchestral score along with traditional Japanese instruments such as the shakuhachi and koto. The theme features Yo-Yo Ma (cellist) and Itzhak Perlman (violinist).
Williams said, “The aim was to create an oriental atmosphere by using traditional Japanese instruments that would be supported by a broad, Western harmonic vocabulary – an emotional framework that’s not specifically Japanese but more universal.”
The score was nominated for an Academy Award, losing to Brokeback Mountain, and a Golden Globe which it won. It also won a Satellite Award,
I read the book a year or so after it was released. From memory I think I enjoyed it, but not enough to reread or see the movie. This theme (clip below) is haunting and the cello’s sound is stunning. I think Williams’ has achieved his goal of creating an oriental atmosphere. Do you?