Posted on 8/22/05 11:20 PM
I'm a fan of the work of Satoshi Kon. His vision and films are always imaginative, moving, beautifully animated, and intriguing. So it was with anticipation that I finally rented Millennium Actress (Sennen joyu).
Like his other work, this film features an exploration of memory, truth, and that search for meaning we all go through. It tells the tale of Chiyoko, an elderly actress who abruptly disappeared from the screen 30 years ago. Now, she has agreed to be interviewed by a reporter and tell her story.
This film is beautifully animated, and the style exploring, past, present, and memory in between is seamless. There are no really sharp transitions, everything flows together, which is ideal for this tale, in which Chiyoko's search for a nameless painter, and what this comes to signify in her life, is central. Since an interview is the premise by which we receive Chiyoko's tale, the role of memory comes into play.
Taking us through various eras through the films depicted, but never straying from Chiyoko's search, which comes through, the animation takes us on a really memorable journey. Add in characters like Genya Tachibana, the interviewer, who is also a part of Chiyoko's actress past, and the line between past, present, and memory is further blurred.
Overall, the film impressed me. I really liked the animation, music, and style. The resolution of Chiyoko's singular quest is both a little surprising, yet completely appropriate, and quite moving, as is the scene near the end when we learn the painter's fate.
While Millennium Actress isn't my favorite of Satoshi Kon's works (that title still belongs to the brilliant Tokyo Godfathers), it's still up there. This is definitely worth seeing for anyone, not just animation buffs. All Kon's films are. This one is an intelligent, beautiful film, with its own real power.