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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Art > Fashion > Counterculture > The Secret Life Of Geisha (1999/Documentary)

The Secret Life of Geisha


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Program: B+



A&E is known for putting out fantastic material and The Secret Life of Geisha is no exception.  While the program is semi-short (about 93-minutes) the content is genuinely packed in its runtime.  There is no doubt that the release of this particular title is right on time with the current hype over Memoirs of a Geisha, which is based on the novel of the same name by Arthur Golden, who appears in this program and serves as one of the more knowledgeable sources behind the secret life of this particular sub-culture.  Until his novel there had been many misconceptions about Geisha such as what they do, where they live, what their job entails, etc, but his novel and especially this program shed light to something that has been secretive for hundreds of years. 


Included in this program are a few other interviewees that are quite interesting including the only western woman to ever become a Geisha and also a chronicle of some of the other better known Geisha over time, including a 93-year old woman who remains the oldest working Geisha dating back to the years around WWII, when the G.I.s infiltrated the Geisha lifestyle and brought western culture into Japan.  There is also the true story that is uncovered behind the 1958 John Wayne film The Barbarian and the Geisha, which is a Hollywood version of a true story of a western man who married a Geisha, which is quite uncommon.  Susan Sarandon is our narrator as we walk through the history of the Geisha and also focus on some of the newer customs of Geisha.  The program is from 1999 and dates fairly well, but shows slight age with its video footage.  If the program were shot now it most likely would be in High Definition, which would look stunning with Geisha outfits really standing out! 


The 1.33 X 1 video image looks decent, but nowhere near what we have come to expect over the past few years in the video market.  Colors are more muted and detail is not nearly as sharp, but still adequate enough to pass.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is fairly straightforward and gets the job done as well.  This is just an all out excellent A&E program worthy of viewing, perhaps a great way to expand your horizons with some entertainment in the process.



-   Nate Goss


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