Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Millenium Actress

I was over at my friend Dragon's place last Sunday. We were going to go see Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, but by the time we got off our lazy butts to leave, it was too late. So we watched Satoshi Kon's Millenium Actress instead. All in all, it's a great choice, and highly recommended.

Millenium Actress follows an actresses' reminiscences of her life and career. When she was a young teenager during the Sino-Japanese War that preceeded World War II, she fell in love with a Japanese activist opposed to the Manchurian occupation. After giving her a key that he said unlocked "the most important thing there is", he disappears. She then takes a job as an actress in a movie that is being filmed in Manchuria to find him, and thus starts her movie career.

The conceit that makes the movie work is that as FUJIWARA Chiyoko slips between the present and the past, between reality and her films, the documentary crew goes with her, sometimes even taking part in actions that occurred before they were born. This technique blurs the lines between reality, fantasy, and history, rendering them indistinguishable, and in some sense all equally fictitious.

This movie is well worth a rent for the non-anime fan, and fans who don't own it by now probably should. It's a revealing look at the lies that underpin our definitions of ourselves, and their necessity.

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