Millennium Actress

Synopsis: A movie studio is being torn down. TV interviewer Genya Tachibana has tracked down its most famous star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who has been a recluse since she left 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 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.
Director(s): Satoshi Kon
Production: Go Fish Pictures
  7 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
87 min


Must you go?

I've promised.

I said I'd go to him.

But you'll never make it back!

Thank you.

Don't go! Please!

I've always...

An earthquake!

You OK, Boss?

- Yeah.

- We're ready. The van's loaded.

Be right there.

Ginei Studios

It is with regret that

Ginei Studios, Ltd...

announces its studio facility

is obsolete and will be closed.

This project celebrates

its greatest star, Fujiwara Chiyoko...

who sustained it through

much of its 70-year history...

This is voice-over!

I can't be in the shot!

If you'd gotten permission

to interview her sooner...

we wouldn't have to fake it!

She's not a performer anymore!

Then you should have shot this

30 years ago!

The crazy old biddy... hiding

herself away like some hermit!

Next time I kill you!

But no matter how big a star

she was, she's over 70 now.

I mean... she's old!


There it is!

Let's not expect too much, eh?

We don't even know...

what she looks like now.

She'll never grow old!



Does Miss Fujiwara live here alone?

She has for years... her friends

are her books and her garden.

This is her own homemade herb tea.

You are very lucky...

she's agreed to let you

interview her.

We went to a great deal

of trouble finding her.

It's a great honor.

You said you had something to give her?

Uh, yes...

Usually before she'll meet anyone new,

the earth has to move.

What has to move, Mino?

"The earth moves," Missus.

The earthquake... that one this morning.

Wasn't that something!

I thought my time had come!

How do you do?

I'm Fujiwara Chiyoko.

This is truly a great day.

We are most deeply honored.

Oh, don't be so formal.

You're from studio...


It means "lotus".

Oh, I love lotuses!

I'm aware of that.

Thus the name of our studio...

They'll be in flower soon out back.

In poetry they symbolize...

Yes! "Simple purity."

Well, Mr. Tachibana... you mentioned

you have 'something' for me.

Oh, yes! I'm sorry...

I've kept this...

I've kept this for you

until I could find you.

I've put that out of my mind for years.

Was that the key

to something important?

To the most important thing

there is.

Thank you, Mr. Tachibana.

But where did you get this?

Uh... well, many years ago

someone at Ginei Studios found it.

I never thought

I'd hold it in my hand again.

Well, I guess the earth

is telling us to get started.

Uh, certainly.

My fate seems to be tied to earthquakes.

I was born during one, in 1923.

The Great Kanto Earthquake...

My father had so wanted a child!

He was killed, and it was as if...

his life had been traded for mine.

The shop he left behind...

allowed my mother and me

to live well.

I grew up in a dangerous world

of one period of turmoil after another...

The politics of the day

had veered to the right.

But girls' magazines were

more important to me, I guess.

I'd gaze at the pictures and dream

of the day I'd meet my prince.

Was that when...

the studio discovered you?

I'll never know...

what the managing director

of Ginei Studios...

saw in a snub-nosed little girl

on her way to school.

Is there nothing I can say?


My mother here...

thinks that being an actress

is a dubious profession.

"Dubious," she called it?


Our new film is set in Manchuria.

It will cheer on our soldiers there...

and encourage all the people

of our nation!


Chiyoko wants to be

of service to her country!


Perhaps, but this child is far

too timid to ever be an actress!

She will find a husband

and the shop will become hers.

Isn't that right?

Does a sweetshop matter more

than a nation?!

Does a woman not serve her nation

by staying home and bearing children?

National Health Week

Your Nation Needs You!


What are we filming?


I feel like a stalker!


I was in a hurry.

Something's going on...

Keep out of it!

- He's not here!

- Go that way!

Did a man come this way?

Carrying something in a cloth?

He ran that way.



It takes guts to shelter

someone like that!

Who is that guy?!

May I see?

It's just a sketch.

I'll finish it when I get home.

In winter there it's white with snow

as far as you can see.

I want to set up my easel

in all that snow...

and finish the painting

while I'm so cold it hurts.

In that pure white landscape...

you feel like you're on

some strange, distant world.

I'd love to go there.


To thank you, I'll invite you there

when peace comes.

The full moon...

Not till tomorrow.

But I like this moon best.

After the full moon it starts to wane.

But with the 14th night,

there's still tomorrow... and hope.

I have to leave.

But you're hurt!

My friends are

fighting in Manchuria.

A paintbrush isn't

much help, though.

This? It's the key to

the most important thing there is.

The most important thing?


I don't know. But don't tell me.

Give me till tomorrow.


Tell us!

You're in love with someone!

First love!


Isn't that sweet!

Even old people were young once.

Isn't that the key you brought her?

He can't have gone far!

Keep looking!


Thank heavens you're all right!

There was a thief in the storeroom!

He's OK.

He made it to the station.

I'm so glad you're not hurt!

The Chief Clerk! Yes!

This is hard work!



Wait! Wait!

I'll come!

I'll come to you!

Now that's drama!

I cried 53 times at this scene!

When did this turn into a movie?!

That's when I started making films.

I see.

How did that start?

Well, you remember

the managing director said...

his next film was set in Manchuria...

Manchuria! Of course!

Thank you, Chiyoko.

I knew you'd say yes!

Well, I should serve my country...

shouldn't I?

I see...

You were just following that man!


I didn't care about movies!

Chiyoko's playing the title role.

How do you do?

I'm sure you recognize...

Shimao Eiko, our biggest star...

Hello, Chieko.

Aren't we pensive!


He is...

Give it back!

Looks like Dad found me an actress!

Well! You work fast, "sonny".

"Chizuko," wasn't it?


This is "Mr. Otaki",

the managing director's son.

A promising young director.

He loves auditioning actresses.

Sorry. I shouldn't tease.

Someone left it with me.

If I see him in Manchuria,

I want to give it back.

We're not going there for fun.

Who is he? What's his name?

I don't know.

Then how will you find him?

He paints.

- Paints what?

- I don't know.

Not even that?


I'm sure he's in Manchuria!

Never heard of anyone like that.

I remember this!

But I'm sure he's around here!

I don't need amateurs hanging around!

I'm not leaving!

I've crossed a whole ocean...

to get here, and...

I... I...

Director! What's going on here?!

This girl doesn't know her lines!


Once you've made yourself

into your character...

the lines will come welling up

naturally from inside.

Yes, sir.

I told you this was no role

for a rank amateur!

I... I just want to see him!

Great! Let's do a take!

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Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon (今 敏, Kon Satoshi, October 12, 1963 – August 24, 2010) was a Japanese film director, animator, screenwriter and manga artist from Sapporo, Hokkaidō and a member of the Japanese Animation Creators Association (JAniCA). He was a graduate of the Graphic Design department of the Musashino Art University. He was the younger brother of guitarist and studio musician Tsuyoshi Kon. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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