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One of the great themes of film history has been the growing rivalry between Hollywood and Asian cinema. This is the real cultural clash of east and west

By Mark Cousins   February 2006

One morning recently I went to see Memoirs of a Geisha, Columbia Pictures and American director Rob Marshall’s account of the education of a young girl who becomes one of the figures in eastern life that most fascinates the west—a geisha. As the end credits rolled, I walked to an adjacent screen and watched Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s portrait of the lives of the figures in western cinema who most fascinate eastern directors—cowboys. Each is a ventriloquism of sorts, or a stealing of the rival’s clothes.

Memoirs of a Geisha and Brokeback Mountain have several things in common.…

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