Millennium Actress (2001)

Millennium Actress (2001)

Released: 2001
Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy, Genre
Director: Satoshi Kon
Starring: Mami Koyama, Shôzô Îzuka, Miyoko Shôji, ,
Run time: 87 min
IMDb: 7.9/10
Country: Japan
Views: 66171

Synopsis

Storyline:
A movie studio is being torn down. TV interviewer Genya Tachibana has tracked down its most famous star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who has been a recluse since she left acting some 30 years ago. Tachibana delivers a key to her, and it causes her to reflect on her career; as she’s telling the story, Tachibana and his long-suffering cameraman are drawn in. The key was given to her as a teenager by a painter and revolutionary that she helped to escape the police. She becomes an actress because it will make it possible to track him down, and she spends the next several decades acting out that search in various genres and eras.
Written by
Jon Reeves <[email protected]>
User Reviews: A key reward for writing IMDb comments is that readers send you recommendations. This is one that I had a hard time tracking down. I’m glad I did.

This seems to be viewed only by fans of anime, and that’s a shame. I’m not knowledgeable enough in anime to note how it fits. It seems to be in the more "realistic" spectrum, with fewer edges and less posturing.

Japanese writing has gravity. In traditional mode, the eye falls down as it gathers a phrase. The characters are derived from ink on paper instead of the western fonts shaped by chisel on stone. And where the characters I use in English have no inherent semiotic association, Kanji is inherently pictographic. A Japanese reader will literally harvest phases by falling through images, images in a static situation with dynamic sweeps therein.

So when I come to anime, I look for this. Being nonJapanese, I can see it and appreciate it more than a native can I believe.

That’s why I’m excited about this, because the visual phrases are imposed on some folds I know.

First about the folds. The way this is structured is as a double documentary of an aged film star, "Sunset Blvd"-wise. Its double because we have a camera and we are seeing the two documentarians: one the interviewer and the other with a camera. (We never get a view through that camera, I think.)

The interview blends with the actress’s flashbacks. Now this is very clever, how this is done.

It isn’t memory: the documentarians are physically there when a "past" episode occurs. The cameraman constantly asks "what next?" and the interviewer takes on the role of certain characters in the films. These really are films, we see, when sometimes the "camera" rolls back and we see the crew. This is a third camera.

But more: all of the films over many decades conflate and merge, interweaving back and forth through history, forming a single quest for a love. That love is for a painter, who clearly is the animator of this cartoon, "Duck Amuck"-wise. These films not only merge with each other, and the quest, and the "interview," but with her life proper.

As with "8 1/2 Women," earthquakes figure in the shifts and overlays of stories. The thing that binds it all is a "key" which we learn early is to a paintbox, the source of all the paintings we see. Its wonderful organic oneiric origama. oneiroticama.

And that’s just the story. Watch how the phrases are constructed though. We fall through them, soft layer after cloudy image.

Its like relaxing into love with perfect trust. You really should see this.

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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