Thursday, 26 September 2013

Millennium Actress (2001) - ★★★★★

Director: Satoshi Kon
Writers: Satoshi Kon, Sadayuki Murai

Millennium Actress is a masterful film that's in a league of its own. Have you ever seen a movie so beautiful that the images and music alone can make you cry? I've only seen one or two movies that have ever done that to me, and this film has just been added to that list. It's one of the only movies that has ever rendered me helpless to control my emotions. I was overwhelmingly happy with the magnificent story, stunning imagery, and beautiful music, yet I was overwhelmingly sad at the heart-wrenching moments that took place from start to finish. I literally cried for the last 3 minutes of the film, non-stop. Then after that, I couldn't stop crying for another 20 minutes. I didn't cry because it was in any way a tragic film, nor was it one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever seen... I cried because of how beautiful this film was altogether. I have to say, it's one of the most memorable movie-going experiences I've ever been through. It made the emotions pour out of me as strong as they ever have. After the first viewing, I already know that Millennium Actress is one of my all time favourite movies. Heck, it's one of the greatest movies ever made.

To truly appreciate Millennium Actress, I think it's important to discover the stories and themes the first time you watch it. I'll just give a brief outline of where the story kicks off. "A TV interviewer and his cameraman meet a former actress and travel through her memories and career," (IMDB). I guess it wouldn't be too reductive to tell you that this film is primarily about the long-lost love of Chiyoko Fujiwara. 

Wanna know how powerful this film is? Well put it this way, the opening credits moved me so much that I started tearing up. "Woah, it must be perfect!" Right? Well, not exactly. All I can truly say about Millennium Actress is that it captured my love and adoration, yet I can't quite put my finger on why. The list of why I love this film so much is endless (I'll delve into that soon), yet, I can't help but feel that my reaction to the film was chemically charged. I've never really felt so strongly about a film before...

There are a number of adjectives that can be used to describe the animation. 'Meticulous, precise, stunning, gorgeous, perfect.' Words cannot possibly do it justice. I feel the same way about the music. It has one of the most moving scores I've ever heard. It feeds the soul, bringing out a range of feelings, like hope, longing, happiness, and even nostalgia. While I'm at work, the score plays in my head and makes me look forward to everything that life has to offer. Thank-you Susumu Hirasawa for composing a score that brings so much joy into my life.

As we discover each chapter of Chiyoko Fujiwara's life, another piece of a puzzle is added to what is otherwise a pretty jumbled story. Each piece of this puzzle, which represents many sections of the film, is so uniquely beautiful. I've seen many films from great Japanese directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Yazujiro Ozu, and Millennium Actress gives us a small glimpse into the kinds of films they made. Whether it be history and action, like Kurosawa, or drama and simplicity, like Ozu. I think what makes these sections so powerful is the real life drama of Chiyoko, and the mystery of her long-lost love. There's always that sense of urgency and hope. It pulled my heart-strings from start to finish.

I've never seen a film like Millennium Actress in my entire life. I think everyone has a movie that their heart and soul are intrinsically linked to. This is my film. This is THE film that I'm bound to. I feel so strongly about this film, that it's impossible for me to articulate exactly why I'm so attached to it. Although I hope others will love it to the same extreme that I do, I doubt many will. It may not be a perfect film for others, but it's the perfect film for me.

If you've seen the film, then you might enjoy my video I made in tribute to Millennium Actress.


  1. Great review. I really like Satoshi Kon's work but have only seen Paprika and Perfect Blue. Will look for this one if it got that high of an emotional response.