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(Credit: Satoshi Kon)

Film

Satoshi Kon names his "favourite movies"

In the realm of Japanese animation, there are few names as significant as the late Satoshi Kon, the mind behind such influential movies as Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika

A director, animator, screenwriter and manga artist from Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Kon is known for creating some of the most influential anime movies ever made, creating dreamlike works of fantasy that have since been copied by several western filmmakers. Studying as a graphic designer at Musashino Art University in 1982, it was during his time at college that the filmmaker came second in the 10th Annual Tetsuya Chiba Awards, debuting his manga short Toriko.

After graduating, Kon realised he wanted to pursue a career in writing Manga, an obsession that later encouraged him to take up filmmaking, gravitating towards anime in the 1990s. Writing the Magnetic Rose portion of the 1995 anthology movie Memories, Kon made his directorial debut two years later with Perfect Blue, a stunning, contemporary drama that would help him find international success. 

Based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s novel of the same name, the film is a suspense story that follows a superstar who struggles to separate the real world from her own imagination, losing her identity as she is lost to popular culture. So influential was the tale that the American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky would borrow several elements and shots for both 2000s Requiem for a Dream and 2010s Oscar-winner Black Swan. 

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In fact, many filmmakers have been directly influenced by the work of Satoshi Kon, with the director often not getting the credit he deserves for helping such projects develop. As well as Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, the Christopher Nolan sci-fi Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Elliot Page, also borrowed several concepts from Kon’s trippy 2006 masterpiece, Paprika

This relationship with Kon and the wider world of cinema worked both ways, however, with the Japanese filmmaker revealing that he was influenced by a range of directors, including John Ford, Billy Wilder, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Robert Altman. 

He listed such aforementioned names in an old interview with Madman, taking to one American-British filmmaker in particular. “For dream sequences and the like Terry Gilliam stimulated me,” Kon told the publication, adding, “Especially in the beginning of Time Bandits, in Brazil, and in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. These are my favourite movies”. 

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker was one of the most influential creatives of the 1980s, helping Monty Python reach significant acclaim during this period thanks to his own wacky animation. Though, when it came to cinema, no film was more successful for Gilliam than Brazil, earning the filmmaker two Oscar nominations for the film’s sheer visceral ingenuity.  

Brazil is a film that I appreciate a lot, both for what it says and for the alternating between dream and reality,” Kon stated in a separate interview, holding a significant amount of love for Gilliam’s 1985 in particular. Continuing, he adds. “At the time, it impressed me. Terry Gilliam has his own universe but unfortunately he’s a filmmaker who hasn’t been able to break through like he ought to have. Certain films of his are fabulous, like The Baron Munchausen and Time Bandits”. 

As two revolutionary creatives working in the same creative bubble of cinema, it’s no wonder that Gilliam had such an effect on Satoshi Kon.

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