I have been reading some books on some of my favorite anime film makers lately. I just finished up a book of Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame (more on him to come). But I have just started a new book on one of my favorite storytellers, Satoshi Kon. You may know some of his films as; Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and the film I will be reviewing today, Millennium Actress.
Millennium Actress was created by Studio Madhouse and released in 2002, the start of the experimental 3D/CGI period of animation. I was only able to spot one shot with very limited CGI. Check out the trailer.
The story is centered around an elderly actress who is visited by a film maker and his camera man. They show up to film because the studio the actress worked for was being tore down. As the film maker and cameraman learn more about her, we are shown the story through the filmography of the actress. We also get a glimpse into some Japanese history throughout the film as well, setting the stage for a love story that must survive through the war.
First off, if you haven’t seen any of Satoshi Kon’s work, you need to push at least one of his titles to the top of your watch list, if not all of them. His films always have very interesting cuts between shots, time and the actions of the character(s). Some of the cuts will be triggered by events or objects that are important to the character. Millennium Actress has some of the same great cuts as Perfect Blue. Some of the shots are even reminiscent of Perfect Blue, you will have to see for yourself if you can spot them.
As I stated above, there is almost no CGI in this film, but the animation is great. There are some really beautiful sequences in Millennium Actress. One of my favorites is towards the start of the film when the childhood actress is throwing snowballs at the side of a brick building. No one should be surprised of the quality of animation in the film since it was done by Madhouse after all.
Millennium Actress has plenty of replay value, I have actually been throw it a few times in the last couple weeks alone. Satoshi Kon is one of the directors, in my opinion, that tells amazing stories with superb visuals that really sets his work into a very special class of its own. The story of Millennium Actress is at its core a love story spanning across time, that is hard to not strike a chord in the viewer at the conclusion of the film. Be sure to check out Millennium Actress and more of Satoshi Kon’s work if you haven’t already.
The DVD has a 40 minute extra on the making of the film I have yet to check out but is going to be pretty close to the top of my viewing priorities.