Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist
Satoshi Kon, l’illusionniste
France/Japan, 2021, 82’, Japanese, French, English
Directed by: Pascal-Alex Vincent
Screenplay: Pascal-Alex Vincent
Photography (color): Kiyomura Toshiyuki, Gordon Spooner
Editing: Clement Selitzki
Music: Théo Chapira
Producers: Horikushi Kenzo, Maki Taro, Vincent Paul-Boncour
Narration: Martin Goutte
Date of First Release in Territory: July 21st, 2021 (France)
The late Kon Satoshi, a true animation legend, is rightfully in the same pantheon that includes Miyazaki Hayao and Otomo Katsuhiro, the latter of whom was himself one of Kon’s biggest influences. If Miyazaki is known as the “Walt Disney of Japan,” then Kon’s work could be compared to the surrealist, dream-like, and absurdist art of David Lynch and Terry Gilliam. You see his influences in the works of Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan (one could argue that Inception is a tad too close in tone and story with Paprika, Kon’s final work).
Director Pascal-Alex Vincent’s thorough documentary explores Kon’s works individually, interviewing people who worked with him and people – like Aronofsky, Marc Caro, and Hosoda Mamoru – who both knew and admired him. From his first feature Perfect Blue (1997), a disturbing and affecting film about stardom and obsession, to Tokyo Godfathers (2003), a tried-and-true Christmas movie that is both a comedic romp and a humanist exploration of houseless people in Tokyo, to the aforementioned Paprika (2006), which represent Kon at his most unbridled creativity and visual aplomb.
Kon Satoshi’s untimely death in 2010 robbed us of more masterworks by a singular artist, who was just getting started at his creative apex. This documentary at the very least gives the work he did make the proper placement as some of the best movies – animated or otherwise – of this current century.
Pascal-Alex Vincent studied film history at the University of Paris III. Les Résultats du Bac, his first short in 2001, marked the beginning of his collaboration with Local Films, which produced his next five shorts. His animated short, Candy Boy, was selected for Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2007. In 2009, his first feature, Give Me Your Hand, starring identical twins Alexandre and Victor Carril, was released in 15 countries. His second feature, It’s in the trees was produced in 2012. Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist was an official selection of Cannes in the Cannes classics section in 2021.
2009 – Give Me Your Hand
2010 – Miwa: A Japanese Icon
2012 – It’s in the Trees