Director’s Chair Introduction: Satoshi Kon

by Tony Cogan · May 30, 2016 · Director's Chair, Uncategorized · No Comments

 Deadline: Saturday June 25th

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Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Director’s Chair. Seeing how the past 2 ones have been for live action films, I thought it would be interesting to go into the realm of animation. Now whenever people talk about the greats of animation, a few names keep cropping up: Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, John Lasseter, Nick Park and Hayoa Miyazaki. However, there is one name whose influence is just as strong as those people, but whose work is not as recognised as often, that person being Satoshi Kon.

When you look at the films of Satoshi Kon, you see a very clear style of surrealism, matched with gorgeous animation and a great usage of editing to exemplify the style of the film and help to create a strong atmosphere, Every Frame a Painting explained this better than I ever could:

However, Kon’s is a career cut way too short. At the height of his success and creativity, Kon was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and died during production of his final film, leaving us with only 4 films of incredible style and beauty. When watching his work, you can see a clear influence of the works of Terry  Gilliam, Phillip K Dick and George Roy Hill (particularly his adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five) but the films that he influenced have had a strong following in the world. In particular he was an influence and close friend of Darren Aronofsky (with Aronofsky writing a eulogy for Kon in Time Magazine on Kon’s death), there being many plot similarities between his film Perfect Blue and Aronofsky’s Black Swan, along with stylistic similarities with Requiem for a Dream, Aronofsky buying the US rights to Perfect Blue so he could replicate one of its shots in Requiem for a Dream. More blatant an influence though is the one he had on Christopher Nolan, with Kon’s Paprika sharing many stylistic elements and ideas with Inception, notably the way new areas of dreams are created.

Now the films that you can do pieces for regarding Kon are:

  • Perfect Blue
  • Millennium Actress
  • Tokyo Godfathers
  • Paprika

Out of those films, the one I recommend the most is Perfect Blue, although you’ll need to watch it a few times to get around the surreal nature of the plot, blurring the lines between fiction and reality, but if you do that you get some amazing animation and a very compelling story. If you’re a fan of Inception, I recommend Paprika, although it is a lot more surreal than Inception, but has a lot more beauty and some of the best scene transitions I’ve seen in a film. If you can’t access his other films and are living in America, Paramount has put Millennium Actress on YouTube for free.

Once again, send your features to and I look forward to reading what you send.

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