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(2005), PG-13 ["Hardcore" PG-13*] (2hr 16min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
January 21, 2006
55 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.


Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Columbia Pictures Corporation, DreamWorks SKG, Spyglass Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, Red Wagon Productions
Distribution (US): Sony Pictures Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing (2005)
Director(s): Rob Marshall
Producer(s): Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Bobby Cohen, John DeLuca, Lucy Fisher, Steven Spielberg, Leeann Stonebreaker, Patricia Whitcher, Douglas Wick
Written by: Arthur Golden (novel), Robin Swicord
Cinematography/Camera: Dion Beebe
Music: John Williams
Film Editing: Pietro Scalia
Casting: Nina Henninger, Francine Maisler
Production Design: John Myhre
Art Direction: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr., Tomas Voth
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Maybe Memoirs of a Geisha appears pleasant and non-invasive on several levels but a strong pragmatic look says different. Memoirs of a Geisha is indeed a beautiful work of art of complexity in an intricate and delicate weave of a number of subplots, but the tapestry is stained. As many have known me to say "Art is not sin and sin is not art but art becomes sin when art uses sin."

Since this film was released a month ago and is just now making it to our local 6 screen theater, I will not spend much time on the commentary. The biggest reason for any work at all on the commentary is for the local folks and for the folks who wait for a film to come out on video.

In a Japanese fishing village of the 1930s and 1940s, nine year old Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) and her older sister, Satsu (Samantha Futerman) who was probably 13 or 14 years old, were sold by her poor parents and taken off to Kyoto where Chiyo is groomed for life as a geisha. Satsu was apparently too old for training as a geisha and was sold to the "pleasure" people to become a prostitute. [Luke 17:2, Matt 25:40]

Chiyo learns to be one of the most celebrated geishas of Japan. Brutally. And under the vicious jealousy of an older geisha who framed Chiyo, resulting in unfair demands and punishment on Chiyo. In one case Chiyo is coerced with lies by an older geisha into marking up a very expensive kimono. Chiyo is viscously beaten for her deed.

One day on a small bridge, a dapper gentleman named Chairman (Ken Watanabe) with two geishas in tow saw Chiyo sulking. Chairman felt sorry for Chiyo and took her for a cherry ice and gave her money enough for a month. But Chiyo gave the money as an offering during prayer that she would one day be Chairman's geisha.

As the years creep by, Chiyo learns what it takes to be a geisha and becomes Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). Using her years of skill and talent acquisition, Sayuri does "battle" with a number of enemies that developed as Sayuri becomes the newest and most sought-after geisha in Japan.

If the film is accurate, I learned something about the geisha. Previously I had been told geishas were groomed from a very young age to be sexual servants: prostitutes. [again Luke 17:2, Matt 25:40] Maybe they are today but one of the geishas in this film circa World War II stated "We sell our skills, not our bodies." This would say a geisha is a "date" or an entertainer with beautiful dance. After all, "geisha" means artist according to the film. But later in the film another geisha spoke to Sayuri about how the geisha would partake in the "eel in the cave" behavior.

There are many features in this 136-minute film. Far too many to discuss herein. Some of them are of beauty and nobility. But some not.

The final score of Memoirs of a Geisha is 55, placing it at the bottom of the scoring range earned by PG-13 movies (55 to 67 out of 100) in the comparative baseline database, one point above the range of scores earned by R-rated films (54 and below out of 100). However, the Sexual Immorality (S) investigation area score of 12 out of 100 is beyond a doubt equivalent to the sexually oriented programming in many R-rated films.

Likewise is Memoirs of a Geisha equivalent to some R-rated films in the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) and Drugs/Alcohol (D) investigation areas, with area scores of 34 and 17 out of 100 respectively. But what lifted the final score of the film out of the R-rated scoring range were the Impudence/Hate (I), Offense to God (O) and the Murder/Suicide (M) investigation area scores. Each of these three investigation areas revealed content equivalent to most PG or G-rated films.

The scoring distribution reveals Memoirs of a Geisha is a sexually violent film. And before all the aficionados of Japanese culture start barking that such was the life in Japan of those days, I am not arguing that. That such was "real life" then does not excuse the sin. Then. Or now.

This film demonstrates beatings of a young child with a cane. It involves human trafficking, child enslavement to payoff debts, a man violently stripping a young girl for sex and an older woman probing a younger woman's privates to detect residue of sexual intercourse (I know that is gross to hear but it was there). There are other sexually violent matters even more offensive. [1Ths. 4:1 - 7, 1 John 2:26, 1 John 2:16]

Please consider strongly the listing of observations in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to let your youth see this film which is one point out of 100 above the threshold for R-13.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • 1Ths. 4:1 - 7 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [Be master of your body and urges, not a slave to them.] and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish [unforgiven] men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
  • 1 John 2:26 These things have I written unto you [which includes lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes - 1 John 2:16] concerning them that seduce you. [An example of "them" includes they who demonstrate sexual sin in and as entertainment which can "seduce" you, can lead you astray such as by desensitizing you to believe sexually immoral deeds, thoughts and display are acceptable OR by eroding your natural inhibition against sexually immoral deeds and thoughts.]
  • 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [The "world" here is kosmos {kos'-mos}: the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. I suspect "offend" includes sexually abusing the little ones. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • parents selling young girls
  • child beatings, three, two seen, one heard
  • planting evidence to incriminate a child
  • child climbing rooftops to escape, resulting in fall with injury
  • child enslavement to pay off debt
  • brutality against a "newcomer"
  • a girl inflicting assisted self injury in a sensuous location to manipulate a man
  • suggested rape of a child
  • tantrum
  • man stripping young girl for sex (no genitals or act seen)
  • fighting
  • blade threat
  • arson as revenge

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • brutality on a child to force immoral behavior
  • viciousness against a child, repeatedly
  • one use of the three/four letter word vocabulary

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • side nudity of a 9 year old girl
  • making out
  • grooming of a child for prostitution
  • intercourse (no genitals seen)
  • older woman probing the privates of a younger woman to detect intercourse residue
  • teaching a child how to sensually tease
  • side female adult nudity
  • sumo wrestler nudity, repeatedly
  • coaching child to sell body
  • intercourse talk
  • sexual assault
  • inappropriate touch
  • man forcibly stripping teen girls
  • teen upper back nudity with chest nudity obvious but not seen
  • women as a toys
  • more suggestion of prostitution
  • steam bath implied nudity
  • request for sex
  • intercourse with a teen girl (no genitals seen)
  • seduction by a teen girl

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, often
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • bar
  • booze, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • revenge
  • adultery with a teen girl

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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