February 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 76  

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Outside the Box: Millenium

Millennium Actress
Directed by: Kon Satoshi
Voice acting by: Miyoko Shoji, Shozo Izuka, Masaya Onosaka

By HyeShin Kim
Gazette Writer

Millennium Actress is an anime film about Chiyoko Fujiwara, a legendary actress who mysteriously disappeared at the peak of her career.

The film begins in present-day Japan with Genya, film producer and devoted fan, who manages to get an interview with Chiyoko. The whole film revolves around Chiyoko recalling her past as an actress, and her first true love — an activist/artist who sparked and drove her entire acting career. Through various roles of women searching for their lovers, ranging from a princess to an astronaut, Chiyoko symbolically and literally becomes the millennium actress, as her roles span a thousand years.

The most fascinating aspect of the movie is its mixture of past/present and reality/fantasy. Genya and the cameraman are transported into the moment in Chiyoko’s life or scene in her movies. The two men are the comic relief, Genya playing supporting roles in Chiyoko’s movies to help her out, and the young cameraman gawking at scenes from classic movies. The art style and animation is simply beautiful; its liveliness and elegance giving life to the characters. Colour is also used effectively to differentiate between past and present.

Also, be sure to check out the “making of the film” DVD feature, shot in documentary style and narrated by Genya.

MA is definitely for an adult audience — not because of overt sex or violence (there is neither), but due to its mature subject matter and unique narrative style. The reality-bending narrative may be confusing, but if you just let it flow, the film is surprisingly straightforward and powerful.

Whether you like animation or not, Millennium Actress is a masterpiece not to be missed.



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