The author of Memoirs of a Geisha is defending the film version amid criticism from some experts in the geisha world.
In a letter to The Washington Post published today, Arthur Golden wrote that “no storyteller or journalist is ever exact enough for an expert”.
The film, based on Golden’s novel, chronicles a girl’s rise from poverty in a Japanese fishing village to life in high society as a geisha – a woman schooled in the art of dance, singing and conversation to be a companion for wealthy men.
Experts have criticised the accuracy of the costumes and dancing in the film.
“It’s worth bearing in mind that Hamlet makes poor Danish history and that Lawrence of Arabia grossly oversimplifies the politics and cultures of the Middle East,” Golden wrote. “I don’t mean to say that drama should never concern itself with factual accuracy, only that a work of art must be judged by a higher standard.”
The English-language film has also been criticised by those who felt a movie about Japanese culture should have a Japanese actress in the lead.
The film stars Chinese actresses Ziyi Zhang and Gong Li, and Chinese-Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.