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Millennium Actress (2001)
"Sennen joyû" (original title)

PG  |   |  Animation, Drama, Fantasy  |  14 September 2002 (Japan)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 12,446 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 54 user | 59 critic | 15 from Metacritic.com

A TV interviewer and his cameraman meet a former actress and travel through her memories and career.

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Title: Millennium Actress (2001)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Miyoko Shôji ...
Mami Koyama ...
Fumiko Orikasa ...
Shôzô Iizuka ...
Genya Tachibana (voice)
Shouko Tsuda ...
Eiko Shimao (voice)
Hirotaka Suzuoki ...
Junichi Ootaki (voice)
Hisako Kyôda ...
Mother (voice)
Kan Tokumaru ...
Senior Manager of Ginei (voice)
Tomie Kataoka ...
Mino (voice)
Takkô Ishimori ...
Head Clerk (voice)
Masamichi Satô ...
Young Genya (voice)
Masaya Onosaka ...
Kyoji Ida (voice)
Masane Tsukayama ...
The Man with the Scar (voice)
Kôichi Yamadera ...
The Man of the Key (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Stephen Bent ...
Junichi Otaki (voice)
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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 <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, violence and brief mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

14 September 2002 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Millennium Actress  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$18,732 (USA) (12 September 2003)

Gross:

$37,285 (USA) (26 September 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filtering of Chiyoko's life through film history allows the setting, characters, and the visual style of the film to change suddenly. Some of the scenes are reminiscent of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, while others evoke Akira Kurosawa movies (particularly Throne of Blood). Satoshi Kon has acknowledged the influence of Throne of Blood, but says that for the most part there are no specific references in his segments. Instead he drew on a vague general impression of the history of Japanese filmmaking and visual art for his different styles and stories; Kon insists that historical film was actually not a subject he had much familiarity with before he made Millennium Actress. He studied the settings and costumes carefully, however, and learned a lot in the making of the film, such as the history of the kimono. See more »

Goofs

If the space mission spoken of in the film is the Apollo 11 mission, then the launch date should have been July 16, not July 20. See more »

Quotes

Kyoji Ida: [while Kyoji and Genya are watching Chiyoko crying at the train station] Man, this is dramatic...
[Koyi surprises when he sees a crying Genya]
Genya Tachibana: [Crying] I cried fifty-three times in this scene!
Kyoji Ida: When did this become a movie?
See more »

Connections

Spoofs Godzilla (1954) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mastery of storytelling
22 August 2001 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Satoshi Kon is the extremely talented director who brought us the memorable Perfect Blue (1997) and perhaps changed the face of Japanimation forever. Here at his second feature film, ripe after a four years hiatus, he makes the wait well-worthed with a cunning cinematographic experience that literally plunges the viewer into the wonderful world of film.

Using the animation medium to push storytelling in film to new levels of effectiveness, Kon tells the story of a legendary actress who's life and career sparks the interest of documentary director Genya Tachibana. Along with his trusted cameraman, he undertakes to interview the now very old Chiyoko Fujiwara, spotlight actress in her hay days, and together they delve into her past.

This session blooms into a captivating narrative, blending elements of her life with roles in some of her films, and exploring her great search for love. The movie thus explores the personal challenges and self-realization that one undergoes through the different stages of life. It does so with the help of probing questions from Genya and is not shy of being epic in scale, passing seamlessly through fictional eras and time periods, superimposing characters, persons and life teachings. The fusion of reality and fiction is truly remarkable, and Satoshi Kon distinguishes himself from conventional dogmas in that aspect. For him, sky is the limit. He is only limited by his boundless imagination. The result is something fresh and spectacular. From the beauty of the vibrant images to the backdrop of lyricism and poetry, the movie explores life with us... and comes up with interesting conclusions. You will have to see and judge for yourself, but I promise that, if nothing else, it will have made you think.

I was privileged to attend the world premiere at the Montreal FantAsia Festival and was greatly honored to be blessed with the incarnation of the director himself, in flesh and bone. He strikes me as a very intelligent, very mature and wise man. There is an old woman in the film who says to Chiyoko: "I love you and I hate you more than you can imagine." I asked him the significance of that and he simply answered: "I do not really know what it means. I know that I understand many things that I did not 15 years ago. I just tried to project myself in the future, and thought of what I might be able to bestow to a younger inexperienced person like myself, with this increased wisdom that comes with life's trials and tribulations." I admit I am paraphrasing just a little (my japanese is not that good in any case), but that's essentially what he said, and this confirmed my belief, based on the artistic genius and masterful integration of complex thoughts into a simple, flowing, living piece, that this man is gifted. He has an incredible depth and is able to conjure it up to the surface and present it to us. One cannot but delight in his work and wait again for more enlightenment...

A suivre...


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