deadbeat.: Plot Structure: Akira Kurosawa's Sonata-Form


In which I conduct an exhaustive dissection of the plot structure of a story, using the methodology of master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

Folks - I worked really, really hard on this post.

Hope it’s helpful to anyone out there writing!

Obituary: Satoshi Kon (1963-2010)

I don’t know why it took me so long to find out, but last month the film world suffered a devastating loss when anime director Satoshi Kon passed away of pancreatic cancer.

For those readers who are not familiar with anime, Satoshi Kon was one of the most influential and visionary writers and directors in all of modern cinema. While that may seem like a lofty assertion, one simply has to review his tragically small body of work and see that his films have influenced an entire generation of young filmmakers, myself included.

Kon exploded on the cinematic scene with his feature Perfect Blue, a Hitchcockian thriller that established the long-running theme of Kon’s work, which was the disintegration of the physical and dream world. I recall watching the film on VHS (remember those?) and having chills run down my spine from the film’s haunting and grotesque final reveal, and Kon’s rendition of the transformation of fantasy into an all-too-real horror was visually remarkable. The film is an anime hallmark, and so influential that Darren Aronofsky purchased the rights of the film just so that he could replicate the bathtub sequence in his film Requiem for a Dream.

Kon never backed down after Perfect Blue, continuing to push the envelope with macabre, surreal and emotionally shattering stories of the human condition, ranging from themes of homelessness and abandonment in Tokyo Godfathers to aging and mortality in Millennium Actress

Kon’s strength was not just his draftsmanship and writing, but his knack for invention and narrative complexity. Fans of Christopher Nolan’s Inception will no doubt be shocked to find that the concept is not entirely original - Kon visited very similar territory years earlier with his film Paprika, about a psychologist who is able to enter people’s dreams, and ultimately reaches a place where the distinction between dream and reality is indistinguishable. It is a terrifying and visually mindblowing piece of work, and is unfortunately Kon’s last completed film.

But for me, the single most influential piece of Kon’s oeuvre, and a giant, giant influence upon Lilith, is his animated television miniseries Paranoia Agent. A sprawling story of coping with personal loss that takes on biblical proportions, it is one of the most gorgeously complex and ultimately redeeming stories I’ve ever engaged in. Kon materializes pain and suffering in the most profound, morbid and touching of ways, and taps into our minds’ ability to structure its own reality when all is broken and lost. It is to me his crowning achievement, and a true work of cinematic art.

Fan-made AMV that beautifully captures the heart of Kon’s ‘Paranoia Agent’.

Although I had never met Satoshi Kon, when I found out that he had passed away, I felt like I had lost a dear friend who spoke my language and opened the world to me in such interesting and thought provoking ways. His work and his imagination were still at their most nascent stage, and the world is at a loss in that we will never see what more he had in store. I am thankful though for the films of his that we have, a small but irrevocably powerful body of stories that deserves to be amongst the works of the world masters. Kon’s work is as powerful and influential as the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Walt Disney, and I place him beside those filmmakers without a single hesitation or reconsideration. He will be dearly missed.

Satoshi Kon (1963-2010)