Millennium Actress(2001) (千年女優 Sennen Joyū)

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An anime story about a fictional Japanese actress, Fujiwara Chiyoko,

told in a highly non-linear form across 7 levels, each level resting

on the level underneath.


The director explains in his after word, that the levels are not to be

taken as such, but are an artistic technique to provide background scenes.


LEVEL 1: The base empty canvas is the 1000 year history of Japan.


LEVEL 2: Resting on Level 1 is the 100 year history of Japanese cinema.


LEVEL 3: Then the third layer is the actual story of the 78 year life of

the movie actress, Fujiwara Chiyoko. Wood grains introduce each chapter

of her life. Notice the beautiful cabinet in the entry way of her home

at the beginning of the film.


LEVEL 4: This life history is told in flashback to a fourth layer, which

is the story of Tachibana Genya and his young, snarky cameraman, Kyouji

Ida. These two, like the gravediggers in Hamlet, provide the comic

relief. And the two characters are very funny.


LEVEL 5: The fifth layer is the physical key itself which is included

in virtually every scene, and is central to all that happens.


LEVEL 6: The sixth layer is a discovered secret key which Genya holds

close, and is the denouement of the entire movie itself. Without

entering a spoiler, will Genya give Chiyoko this key?

This is the central dramatic question posed by the story.


LEVEL 7: The third key is the key to your heart. Will it open?


“Millennium Actress” tells its story across all the levels at the same

time. This can be quite confusing, and requires your full attention.

As an example, a character from LEVEL 1 will suddenly appear, in LEVEL 4,

or a character from LEVEL 5 will appear in LEVEL 2, and the viewer

will constantly have to switch perspectives and POV as the levels

shift out from under your comfort level.


For those who are mature enough to understand what is going on,

the rewards of this movie are exquisite, intense, highly emotional,

and moving, and can cause true catharsis in the classical tradition.


Highly recommended. This is a true work of beautiful art.

Millennium Actress by the great, late Satoshi Kon is a wonder to
experience. Like an ultra find Swiss clock built inside a Fun House
of mirrors. The complexity is stunning, and like a fine mosaic, every
little glass tile is neatly fitted into its proper place. Nothing
is out of place. How the man thought this up, is wonderment itself.
Highly recommended to those who consider movies to be art.

Folcwine P. Pywackett