Millennium Actress

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Millennium Actress
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Satoshi Kon
Produced by Taro Maki
Screenplay by
  • Sadayuki Murai
  • Satoshi Kon
Story by Satoshi Kon
Music by Susumu Hirasawa
Cinematography Hisao Shirai
Edited by Satoshi Terauchi
Distributed by KlockWorx
Release dates
Running time
87 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget $1.2 million[1]
Box office $37,641 (North America)[2]

Millennium Actress (千年女優 Sennen Joyū?) is a 2001 Japanese animated postmodernist comedy-drama adventure film co-written and directed by Satoshi Kon and animated by the Studio Madhouse. Loosely based on the life of actresses Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine, it tells the story of two documentary filmmakers investigating the life of a retired acting legend. As she tells them the story of her life, the difference between reality and cinema becomes blurred.[3][4]


A movie studio is being torn down. TV interviewer Genya Tachibana has tracked down its best known star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who has been a recluse since she retired from acting some 30 years ago. Tachibana delivers a key to her, and it causes her to reflect on her career; as she's telling the story, Tachibana and Kyoji Ida, his long-suffering cameraman, are drawn in. The key was given to her as a teenager by a painter and revolutionary that she helped to escape the police. She becomes an actress because it will make it possible to track him down, and she spends the next several decades acting out that search in various genres and eras.[5]


Additional voices were provided by Mitsuru Ogata, Tomohisa Asō, Kōji Yusa, Makoto Higo, Kōichi Sakaguchi, Tomoyuki Shimura, Akiko Kimura, Tomo Saeki, Hirofumi Nojima, Ruri Asano, Hiroko Ōnaka, Yoshinori Sonobe and Yumiko Daikoku.


Following the release of Satoshi Kon's previous film Perfect Blue, Kon considered adapting the Yasutaka Tsutsui novel Paprika (1993) into his next film. However, these plans were stalled when the distribution company for Perfect Blue, Rex Entertainment, went bankrupt.[6] Millennium Actress had an estimated budget of $1.2 million.[1] The screenplay was written by Sadayuki Murai,[7] who used a seamless connection between illusion and reality to create a "Trompe-l'œil kind of film".[8] Millennium Actress is the first Satoshi Kon film to feature Susumu Hirasawa, whom Kon was a long-time fan of, as composer.[9]


Millennium Actress was favorably received by critics, gaining a 92% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[10] Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan said of the film "as a rumination on the place movies have in our personal and collective subconscious, Millennium Actress fascinatingly goes where films have not often gone before".[11] Kevin M. Williams of the Chicago Tribune gave the movie 4 stars and put his feelings for the film this way: "It's animated, but it's human and will touch the soul of anyone who has loved deeply".[12]

Box office performance[edit]

Source Gross (USD) Number of Screens
United States $37,285 6
United States Opening Weekend $18,732 6 [13]

Commercially, the film performed modestly on its US release, earning $37,285 during its three-week release. The film was shown almost exclusively in New York and Los Angeles, and received a minimal advertising campaign from Go Fish Pictures.


Millennium Actress received the Grand Prize in the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival,[14] tying with Spirited Away. Additionally, it won the awards of Best Animation Film and Fantasia Ground-Breaker at the 2001 Fantasia Film Festival. It was awarded the Feature Film Award at the 8th Animation Kobe. The movie took home the prestigious Ofuji Noburo Award at the 2002 Mainichi Film Awards, and was honored with the Orient Express Award at the 2001 Festival de Cine de Sitges in Spain. The film was nominated for four Annie Awards in 2004, including Outstanding Direction and Writing. It was also promoted by its studio as a contender for the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it was not nominated. The film is ranked in the Top 50 Animated Films on the Internet Movie Database.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Interview Satoshi Kon" (in French). Catsuka. October 18, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Millennium Actress (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  3. ^ Abrams, Simon (1 April 2011). "Setsuko Hara: The diva who left japan wanting a lot more". Capital New York. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "さよならの季節". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Reeves, Jon. "Millennium Actress". IMDB. IMDB. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "INTERVIEW Satoshi Kon Part2". Midnight Eye. November 20, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  7. ^ "INTERVIEW Satoshi Kon". Midnight Eye. November 2, 2001. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Director Satoshi Kon Interview DVJ2.0". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Interview 23 2007年6月 アメリカから『パプリカ』について". 
  10. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes - Millennium Actress". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  11. ^ Turan, Kenneth. "Millennium Actress Movie Review". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2007. 
  12. ^ Williams, Kevin. "Movie Review: Millennium Actress". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 20 February 2004. Retrieved 14 September 2007. 
  13. ^ "IMDb Sennen joyû (2001) - Box office / business". Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  14. ^ "Japanese Cultural Announcement". JICC. JICC, Embassy of Japan. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  15. ^ "Highest Rated Animation Feature Films With At Least 1,000 Votes". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 

External links[edit]