A to Z Challenge: M (John Williams’ film scores)

*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?

8 comments on “A to Z Challenge: M (John Williams’ film scores)

  1. I admit I have neither read the book nor seen the film, but any Williams score is worth listening to, and they have two impressive musicians there! I have seen Michelle Yeoh – she was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as a very good martial artist. It was a wonderful film, too, with a supposed sweet young thing who was actually a brilliant fighter.

    M Is For Sean McMullen


    • I did see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on video. I had very young Barbarians at the time, so it may have been the sleep deprivation, but I didn’t particularly enjoy that one (and fell asleep at times, lol).

  2. Giggling Fattie

    April 15, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Wow!! That was beautiful! I had no idea that one person has done so many wildly different things! And you’re only half way done the challenge! Can’t wait to hear what comes next!

    • He’s an incredibly talented man, isn’t he?! There were some movies I found that I hadn’t realised he’d done (from memory one is “T”). And there are so many iconic ones I just had to leave out (like “Jaws”, because, well, Jurassic Park!!).

  3. I think I did see this movie. I don’t remember much about it. But Williams’ later work is fairly distinctive.

  4. This one I haven’t read or seen, but I enjoyed the music very much!

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