Sunday, September 2, 2007

Millenium Actress (Japan 2001)

Millennium Actress (Sennen Joyu) is the amazing story of Chiyoko Fujiwara , an actress for a once great movie studio. Genya Tachibana (Shozo Izuka) is a famous TV interviewer and quite possibly one of Chiyoko's biggest fans. When the studio closes, he tracks her down to get an interview with her as she's been in seclusion for over thirty years. He brings with him a key that once belonged to her. The key represents a lot of things in the movie, the first being the key that unlocks Chiyoko's memories. Chiyoko begins telling Genya and his cameraman how she initially came across the key.

When she was a teenager, the producer of the studio came to Chiyoko's town and tried to recruit her. Unfortunately, Chikoyo's mother wouldn't allow it, so she ran away from home, upset at her mother. She bumps into a young man only a few year's older than herself, who is bloody and on the run from the police. The officers chasing him ask Chiyoko as to his whereabouts and naturally she steers them off his path and brings the young man home, hiding him in the storage room where her mother won't find him. After school the next day, Chiyoko comes home and finds a whole in the wall with the young man now missing and the police searching the area for him. Chiyoko's caretaker secretly informs her that the young man took off towards the train station, so Chiyoko decides to go after him and along the way finds the key. She takes it upon herself to find him so that she can return the key to him.

The thing about Millennium Actress is that it flashes between reality and Chiyoko's movies, but as we watch Chiyoko, so do Genya and his cameraman who are both transported through time to the events in Chiyoko's life. Soon enough, her biggest fan is helping her in almost every situation as Chiyoko tries to give her mystery man back his key. Thankfully the cameraman is clueless as to what's happening, which is to say he's like the rest of the audience, waiting for someone to say what's going on. I mentioned that the key has different symbolic meanings, one of them being hope, and the other being love. It's also used to reveal the truth, and to lock away Chiyoko's feelings, but most importantly of all it's used as a reminder. The movies Chiyoko stars in also play a huge part of the storytelling because they relate to what shes going through in life at that time in her journey. I could go on and on about Millennium Actress, because it really was a great movie that had a lot of heart, and frankly, it could have been a big budget, live-action film. Even though it's a cartoon, it's still a cinematic masterpiece. I doubt that many other movies will be able to accomplish the feeling and storytelling of this wonderfully crafted film. I'll stop myself from going any further and I'll leave you to watch it for yourself, because only then will you really see what I'm talking about. (KSG-301)

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