Thanks to the Paramount Vault, anime director Satoshi Kon’s beautiful film Millennium Actress is can now be streamed for free through the YouTube channel. The 2002 film follows the story of a famous actress as she expands her career through Japan’s most difficult and trying years during and following World War II.
Told entirely through flashbacks, the actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara, relives her professional life from the seclusion of her home during an interview, each period reflecting the evolving trends in Japanese film-making throughout the 20th century. Her story is based on the life of beloved Japanese actress Setsuko Hara, who passed away just last year.
Kon Satoshi was revered as one of the most genius anime directors of his time, second only to the masters at Studio Ghibli. His film debut Perfect Blue reached Western shores back in the late 1990s and inspired movements in Hollywood towards more psychological thrillers. His final completed film, Paprika, also obviously played a role in inspiring Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster hit Inception.
On a personal note, Kon’s wonderful 2003 follow-up Tokyo Godfathers, which follows three homeless people who stumble across an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve, has become a staple of my holiday viewing list.
The Paramount Vault is a new YouTube channel launched by the Hollywood studio, and it holds both clips and feature length films from throughout its history. Be sure to check out the rest of its selection as well.
Kon Satoshi passed away in 2010 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. All of his films are very well respected and beloved even beyond the anime crowd. He passed away making his film Dreaming Machine, and his studio has yet to find someone of comparable talents to close out his direction.