Millennium Actress / Sennen Joyuu
Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Drama, Romance, Fantasy, Psychological, Story of Life
First Released: September 2002, 87-minute film
Summary: It’s the turn of the millenniu, and Ginei Studio is about to be demolished. Filmmaker Genya Tachibana decides to honor the occasion by filming a documentary about the company’s star actress: Chiyoko Fujiwara. The actress quit acting and suddenly became reclusive a few years back, resulting in mystery surrounding her whereabouts and happenings as of late. Genya and his cameraman travel to meet the estranged actress, unaware of the story she will tell.
Chiyoko tells the filmmaker the story of her journey through life and film, with the two weaving back and forth in an illusionary manner that leaves the line blurred between fantasy and reality. The present combines with the past and characters from film blend with influential individuals from real life.
Millennium Actress is the second film directed by Satoshi Kon, preceded only by Perfect Blue. He continued to direct Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika. I love the way Kon adds a psychological aspect to his films. Actress is the most subdued in that regard, with Perfect Blue and Paprika both being a total trip. The soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa is a major bonus. He also composed the soundtrack for Berserk and other Kon films.
The transitions are perfect, merging every one of Chiyoko’s life events to the next. If you’re ever looking for a guide on transitions, look no further than this film. Without spoiling, I will mention that the ending was well executed. It was exactly what it should have been. I appreciate that Kon ended the film the way he should have rather than what would have left the audience the most satisfied.
You might enjoy this if: You appreciate other Kon films, which is to say psychological films that merit a second watch to fully digest.
You might not like it if: You want a simple watch that doesn’t require a lot of thought or attention to fully understand.
Note to the Viewer: Satoshi Kon was working on another feature film, Dreaming Machine, when he passed away. Masao Maruyama still intends to finish the film, no matter how long it takes.
AMV –Ceaselessly into the Past by Draqua
(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers)