|Directed by||Satoshi Kon|
|Produced by||Taro Maki|
|Written by||Sadayuki Murai
|Music by||Susumu Hirasawa|
|Edited by||Satoshi Terauchi|
|Distributed by||The Klockworx Co., Ltd|
Millennium Actress (千年女優 Sennen Joyū?) is a 2001 Japanese anime film directed by Satoshi Kon and animated by the Studio Madhouse. It tells the story of a documentary filmmaker investigating the life of an elderly actress in which reality and cinema become blurred. It is based on the life of Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine.
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.
- Chiyoko Fujiwara is portrayed by three actresses during her lifetime:
- Shōzō Iizuka as Genya Tachibana
- Masamichi Satō voices Genya as a young man
- Masaya Onosaka as Kyōji Ida
- Shōko Tsuda as Eiko Shimao
- Hirotaka Suzuoki as Junichi Otaki
- Tomie Kataoka as Mino
- Takkō Ishimori as the Chief Clerk
- Kan Tokumaru as the Ginei Managing Director
- Hisako Kyōda as Chiyoko's mother
- Kōichi Yamadera as the Man with the Key
- Masane Tsukayama as the Man with the Scar
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. Millennium Actress had the same estimated budget as Perfect Blue (approximately 120,000,000 yen). The screenplay was written by Sadayuki Murai, who used a seamless connection between illusion and reality to create a "Trompe-l'œil kind of film". Millennium Actress is the first Satoshi Kon film to feature Susumu Hirasawa, whom Kon was a long-time fan of, as composer.
Millennium Actress was favorably received by critics, gaining a 92% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 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". Kevin M. Williams of the Chicago Tribune gave the movie 4 stars and put his feelings for the film this way: "A piece of cinematic art. It's modern day Japanese animation at its best... It's animated, but it's human and will touch the soul of anyone who has loved deeply".
Box office performance
|Source||Gross (USD)||Number of Screens|
|United States Opening Weekend||$18,732||6|||
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, 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.
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- Turan, Kenneth. "Millennium Actress Movie Review". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
- Williams, Kevin. "Movie Review: Millennium Actress". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 20 February 2004. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
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- "Highest Rated Animation Feature Films With At Least 1,000 Votes". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
- Animax's official website for Sennen Joyū (Millennium Actress) (Japanese)
- Official Sound Track page
- Chiyoko, the Millennium Actress
- Millennium Actress at Keyframe - the Animation Resource
- Millennium Actress at the Internet Movie Database
- Millennium Actress at AllMovie
- "千年女優 (Sennen Joyū)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Millennium Actress (film) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia