My daughter and I bonded over a Japanese animated film, Millennium Actress (2001, Japan) last weekend. This is one of the few films I’m not tired of watching over and over.
This award-winning animated film was directed by the same guy who created Perfect Blue, an animated psychological thriller.
Genya Tachibana and his cameraman locates a former actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara to shoot a documentary about her. He also returns a key which the actress had lost 30 years ago.
Chiyoko tells her life story and how she got the key and lost it. It started when, as a teenager, she met a stranger (who was a painter and revolutionary rebel) whom she helped escape from the authorities. It was this stranger who gave her that key. They promised each other that they will meet someday. Chiyoko held on that promise and the only way for her to track down the stranger is to become an actress.
Present reality and Chiyoko’s storytelling became alternately seamless as scenes from Chiyoko’s movies and life story become one. Genya, a former bit actor who worked with Chiyoko, re-enacts their scenes in the process. It provides comic relief. At the end, Genya realized that Chiyoko was just following a shadow which is summed up by her last line…”after all, it was the chase that I loved.”
My daughter liked the film and found the comic relief funny. This was her first time to watch a serious Japanese animated film.
For me, I loved the storytelling where Chiyoko’s life and movies intertwined as we follow the story of her search for that stranger. I found Millennium Actress as creative.
Most of us follow a dream, even if it just a shadow, an idea. Yet we believe it exists somewhere out there and hope to reach it soon. It is the dream that fuels our passion to pursue a goal, an unreachable star, perhaps.