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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cranes appear frequently throughout the film, typically with Chiyoko in the same frame. In Japanese culture, cranes represent longevity and fidelity, and are said to live for a thousand years. See more »
In the film, a small tremor occurs before a major earthquake. Usually this should happen in reverse, even in an area of high seismic activity such as Japan. See more »
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...
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