A masterpiece of Japanese animation, “Perfect Blue” by Satoshi Kon could have been entitled to a live remake by Darren Aronofsky. Instead, the American director paid tribute to the film with “Requiem for a Dream”.
Satoshi Kon, a great filmmaker gone too soon
In just four feature films and one television series, the Japanese Satoshi Kon (1963-2010) had a great influence on cinema. Whether in animation or American cinema, the director has left his mark. And this, although his films were not really successful at the time of their release. Perfect Blue (1997) is a perfect example. In this paranoid thriller, Mima, a J-pop singer, decides to embark on an acting career. But his choice will not please everyone. After receiving fax calling her a “traitor”, she discovers that people close to her are being murdered. And she begins to feel danger getting closer to her.
With this film, Satoshi Kon questions the principle of “idols” in Japan. These young girls made to become music stars in bands, which arouse monstrous enthusiasm but can be replaced overnight. The filmmaker also directs a disturbing stalker and causes a real discomfort with this heroine (representation of Kon himself) who loses her footing under the pressure and sees reality confused with nightmarish illusions.
Influence on Aronofsky
By (re) seeing Perfect Blue today, it is easy to think of other films produced since then. the black swan (2010) by Darren Aronofsky is a good example. Not so surprising given that the American director dedicates a particular interest in the film since he discovered it. In the documentary Satoshi Kon, the illusionist, the filmmaker says he was impressed by Satoshi Kon’s proposal. To the point of having tried to realize a remake in the live version.
We tried to get the rights to shoot a live action version. It was very complicated, because no one understood what a pop star was or what kind of character. This was before the Britney Spears phenomenon in America. We didn’t have that type of character, and for the audience it was hard to understand.
If his project could not be done, Aronofsky was still able to take up elements of Perfect Blue. In the plot and mood of a black swan – going from a pop star to a ballerina. But also with Requiem for a Dream (2000). For his second feature film, he reproduced one of the shots of Perfect Blue. A scene where Mima screams in her bathtub is repeated identically with Jennifer Connelly.
A tribute was assumed and made courtesy of Satoshi Kon. During the writing of the screenplay Requiem for a Dream, he was looking for a scene to “figure out the state of Jennifer Connelly’s character“. Having seen at the same time Perfect Blue he wrote to Satoshi Kon to be able to reuse this plan.
He was very flattered. He was very generous. I asked him what he thought of the plan, he told me he was very proud.
To find out more about Satoshi Kon, in addition to his fascinating filmography, we recommend Pascal-Alex Vincent’s documentary as an appetizer, available in DVDs and Blu-rays.