Talking Head (1992) - full transcript

A revered director with an obscure style, Rei Maruwa, has gone missing during the production of his latest animated feature, Talking Head. With the deadline approaching and next to no progress made, the producer calls in a "shadow director" with the ability to mimic any director's style. Arriving at the studio, he begins meeting with the eccentric crew members in order to understand the project, but soon they begin dying in the same order that he met up with them.


Mr. Unoyama,
Happyakubariki Ltd., huh?

It's premiering tomorrow, I hear.

My, how did you make it in time?

As always, it can only be
described as a miracle.

No matter who the director is,
or what his directing style is... capture that style and re-
produce it perfectly to the last detail.

The man who,
despite an extremely tight schedule...

...always completes the first
work-print by the deadline.

The ghost animation director who lives
in the shadows of the industry.

My, my...

...I've heard rumors about you, but I never
thought I'd actually see you like this.

I'd say I should've arranged
a business dinner...

but having a studio as I do, though a
small one, it's really... know.

Shall we talk about business?

The thing is...

Shinichi Unoyama

Studio Happyakubariki started the
all-out production of the animated movie...

..."Talking Head."

However, it has come to an impasse.

The planner and coordinator of the
entire project, Director Rei Maruwa...

...mysteriously disappeared
6 months ago.

His whereabouts are utterly
unknown to this day.

For fear of the looming deadline
and severe financial penalty...

...and in order to remedy the situation,
Unoyama summoned me.

Well, that's the story.

It's been a year since
production started.

The premiere is only 2 months away,
yet I don't even have storyboards.

Even worse, there's no script.
Not even the first draft.

I had a lot riding on him, and he seemed
to have his own goals for this project.

So I waited as long as I could.
I waited when I couldn't wait any longer.

Then came a point that if I waited any
longer, the reason for waiting...

...would be entirely gone,
but I still waited after that.


But it was all to no avail.

I can't believe you waited that long.

A paragon of producer-hood.

I was boiling with anger inside.

That's understandable.

Boiling as I was, I thought,
"maybe... not today but tomorrow"...

..."no, the day after tomorrow, he might
show up with a mind-blowing trick."

Well, to tell you the truth,
untiljust a moment ago...

Pathetic, isn't it?

But I give up.

I won't wait any longer.

What are your expectations?

If I knew, I wouldn't need you.

He was going to abandon that
extremely obscure style of his...

...and break new ground
with this project.

Those around him expected
him to do so, as well.

Whatever his thoughts and aims were...

...please discover them and
put them into the film.

Make it his work from
the beginning to the end.

So I am to separate from his style
and at the same time...

...create a film that seems
unmistakably to be his work.

Is such a thing possible for you?

Of course.

Five million yen now, another five
after the answer print is completed.

Get Handawara.

He can give you the details.

Incidentally, that business card is a
one-way ticket to the movie, as it were.

You're on your own coming back.
That's the rule of the movie.

I'm sure you understand.

Production Supervisor
Gen Handawara

I have to tell you in advance,
please don't set your hopes too high.

We've already swung around the circle.

Nothing will start now,
nor will there be any new development.

Nobody expects anything like that.

Every one of them, thinks that something
that's started always comes to an end.

By itself, as a river runs
and seasons change...

Hell no!

To end it,
you have to start all over again.

That's where my job always begins.

That's what I came here for.

That's tough.

Shooting and editing are done outside,
but the other staff are in here.

I will introduce the rest, one by one,
starting tomorrow.

I say, screenwriter first.

Alright, then.

Here's the long-awaited director.

Your playtime is over.

Where is Ohtsuka!

The animation director is in hiding.


What's gonna happen if this
director runs away, too?

And what about if the
chief runs away as well?

Don't get carried away, you fools!

As requested, we left everything
like it was when he disappeared.

Oh, and this is for you.

A piano sketch of the theme song.

That's all there is to go on.
The only thing left behind.

Yeah, it helps.

With this, we can raise
the curtain for now.

The next day, I visited the screenwriter,
ltoh, at his office...

...with production supervisor


I worked with Rei from the
initial planning phase...

...for about 3 months, I think.

But the script was never finished.

He killed it himself.

Elaborate, if you please.

I mean, looking back...

...I think Rei was after a sort of a
horror movie, but that was...

Oh, do you like SFX?

No, I don't.

Rei didn't either.

For instance...

Kazumaro Itoh

He hated it when I
did something like this.

A movie contains in itself a
rational space that is the drama.

In other words, a pseudo reality.

And because of that premise, an act
like this can be bizarre and peculiar.

In short, unless this scene that I'm
acting out has a sense of reality...

...that could be experienced
by the audience as well...

...I would look like nothing but an idiot
fiddling with my own intestines like this.

A talking head.

Very classic.

In the past, movies were a wonderment,
a horror, and so to speak, magic itself.

It is hard to believe now,
but people back then were amazed... a baby on screen smiling at them.

And they panicked in front of a
steam engine plowing toward them.

The good old days.

Though that would cost
directors their living.

Same for screenwriters.

But such a naive era did not last long.

Brief glory and then downfall.

Just as a kid whose smile alone became
insufficient to win affection...

...and would start behaving amiably.

Or a woman on the verge of being dumped
would take to new sexual techniques...

...the movie industry started
exercising its utmost skills.

However, the audience,
having escalated their desire to watch... now reaching the point of apathy.

No matter what or how you show it
to them, it won't amount to much.


After much trial and error,
a secret weapon was obtained.

An ultimate knockdown blow.


Replacing illusions and tricks,
it became a standard rule...

...spreading reality in the movies.

To disassemble the story and
drive the reality away from the screen...

...instead of the other way around.

He was trying to play
a game without rules.

To be more precise, a game where you
make up the rules as you play it.

There are no pre-existing
rules in a movie.

Because the work that's created
becomes a rule. That's a movie.

And you say animation is the same.


Animation replicated existing
live-action films...

...and by following the same path,
evolved into movies.

A newly born monster,
by a new magic called "story"...

...went through a rebirth
and became a movie.

However, from then on, movies
turned toward the creation of...

...more natural, more realistic worlds,
in other words, a more naturalistic world.

And in the process, illogical, irrational,
fantastic, and improvisational worlds...

...were chased away, and movies as magic
itself were quickly forgotten.

And he couldn't stand it.

Instead of a movie existing only
to tell a story, he said...

...the challenge is how faithfully
you can tell a story called a movie.

I see.

You do?

That's incredible.

And, the script that was killed?

It's a clearly and logically structured,
first-class mystery...

...with a serial killer case as a motif.
Or, it was.

A few days before he disappeared,
the script disappeared...

...from the computer's memory.
It vanished, just like smoke.

It may have been his doing.

What do you want to do?

I'm still bound to this project.

Or, am I going to be fired?

Do you say a movie must
have a happy ending?

I think as long as it finishes,
anything is happy.


Over time, films discolor, wear out,
burn or melt away and disappear.

That's what he-
Rei, always said.

I like that.

Continue working on the script, please.

What a worm.

The script was stolen?
A downright blatant lie!

I say he never finished
it in the first place.

It doesn't matter.

Either way, nobody else will
want to write such a story.

But, doing what we're doing, are you
sure anything will come out of it?

Making a movie is the same
as committing a crime.

No matter how cleverly you hide it...

...your methodology and process
will reveal your motive.

Or the production scheme, that is.

Even if it's unfinished like this one.

Actually, all the more so
because it is unfinished.

There must be evidence
scattered around.


So, you, as the incoming director,
also have a role as a detective?

A detective?

My client's request is for me to
complete the attempted crime...

...not to arrest the culprit.

I'm a criminal with no personal motive.

Simply put, sort of a hit man.

In Front of Happyakubariki
Next Stop: Wisdom Tooth

You wanted to see me?

One Alligator, Two Alligator,
Three Alligator...


What's this?

A filler until the script gets finished.

Six months from the kick-off,
both the advances and the...

...interim payments have
been completely spent.

You haven't even finished the trailer.
You must have cash-flow problems.

Well, you know a lot.

Before I can start directing...

...bringing this production into
existence is part of my job... a migrant animation director.

Delivery is 3 days from today.

Make arrangements so the ADR
can take place as soon as tomorrow.

May I ask you a question?

The trailer and movie are
two different things.

But can you make a trailer for
a movie that has no story yet?

A trailer of any movie is nothing more
than a notice that the movie's coming.

That's also the condition
of being a good trailer.

A trailer simply establishes
itself by being a trailer.

Don't you agree?

I see.

What kind of bullshit is he giving us?

Prepare for the animation and
finishing work...

...and arrange for the
photography and print lab!

Oh, hey, Han.

What do you want
to do about the editing?

Quit sleep-talking!

The materials are gonna be on the
rostrum only once...

...before the print is made!

We're gonna replace 'em all with
negative-cutting is done, of course!

We'll pick up the timing from the
magnetic and synchronize pictures... the sounds on the sheet,
so the ADR won't require any pictures!

So we won't need any film,
and therefore there's no editing!

You're being absurd again.

Good morning.

This is Handawara from Happyakubariki.
Is Ms. Shijimi available?

First of all, think of what the sound
effects people and editors will say.

It's always me, come on.

I'll take care of them! You book the
subcontractors for the finishing work!

Nice resources like that are long gone!
We don't have anyone left, I told you!

Have we just met or something?!

If you can't find any subcontractors, then
use your family members to do the job!

Call in your wife or whatever!

Call in the girl working at the
convenience store you go to...

...along with anybody else!

You crack me up, Han, really.

I should call in the
president's family too, huh?

Yeah, call them.

Call them now!
Call them this instant!

I definitely will!
I definitely will!

Thank you for your continued
business with us, this is Handawara.


This is Ms. Shijimi
with Omnibus, correct?


The stalled project had started
moving forward again...

...and the crew's work environment had
started taking on a more dramatic air.

However, producing a movie is always
nothing more than a monotonous process.

In order to conceal the monotony...

...they rely on their numbers and
exercise their utmost skill.

But ultimately, not knowing what to do...

...they end up performing a
boring and stupid play on stage.

On that corrupted stage, the director
alone must put other players in order.

It's a difficult act
that's required of him.

While the true director,
waiting in the wing...

...gloats and maliciously manipulates him.

Being in the vortex of this
stupid play called "movie,"...

...what did my predecessor see?

Let's have a talk with the
animation director about characters.

Where's Ohtsuka?

Well, as always...

Just as I've heard.

He never answers the phone,
he's always missing.

Nobody has ever seen him.
He's the "phantom animator."

You know a lot.

I've always wanted to get a
glimpse of him with my own eyes.


That kind of attitude is why
he treats us with no regard.

If thatjerk keeps hiding in his
apartment, kick the door open and-!

It doesn't matter.

We'll deal with the characters later.
Let's decide about the colors first.

Color Setting
Aya Yasuda & Tsuya Yasuda

The cinematic system has always
demanded one thing as its ideology.



Hence, the audience in the past
was reluctant to leave the reality...

...created by black-and-white films.

The belief that color does not go well
with realistic stories...

...led to the creation of many
black-and-white masterpieces.

Even after color films became common.

From the close-up of a shining holy lady
who receives divine favor... the rain-soaked pavement
of the warehouse district...

...where Ionely gangsters stand still.

Everything that was sincere was filled
with light and pictured the world...

...of the black to white scale.
This is where truth resided.

Gaudy color films simply contributed
to the creation of vulgar...

...and nonsensical worlds with stimulating,
spectacular, and glamorous landscapes.


But the truth of the matter
was exactly the opposite.

Yes. Preceding the films of truth
pictured in black and white...

...the real world was
always full of colors.

It was and is.
Long before cinematography was born.

The world people wanted to believe in
was actually the fiction...

...given birth to by technology.

In 1927, Herbert Kalmus successfully
developed a negative film...

...that was light-sensitive to the
three complementary colors to RBG:

Cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Hence, the curse of colors
in the movies became a reality.

The mask of truth was smeared with a
violent-colored paint called Technicolor!

The effort of making
heavily made-up faces appear to have...

...the brilliance of natural skin only
change the orderly idea into a real fake.

It was nothing more than
a fight without reward.

Movies, having created a sacred kingdom,
utterly ruined it...

...with the same methods and techniques
and never looked back.

On the other hand, as a
public amusement first and foremost...

...the newly-born color films had to do
more than just reproduce the colors...

...of the things that existed
in the real world.

Color movies had to be
artificially processed as things...

...with their own strengths
in order to contribute to the spectacle.

An image that reproduced beautiful
colors was nothing more than a...

...picturesque image that did not
contribute in the slightest to the story.

This made the movie a
beloved child of the times.

In order to make colors
a part of a film's explanatory action...

...and to utilize it as a motivation
in the drama...

...they had to wait for
the cinematic vision...

...that was implicitly shared
in that era, to mature.

Should we repeat that?

In order to have colors function
as an important factor in a drama...

...a series of films had to exist first.
That's what you're trying to say.


Yellow ribbons and...

Red shoes.

Oh, the now-defunct
Soviet Embassy's red flag!

But the glory of the color films
did not last long.

As color became
a normal part of filmmaking...

...the colors retrogressed from being
the motivation, to the background...

...and the subtle coloration of Kodacolor
put an end to the last myth of the colors!

When the Black Hood changed to the
White Hood, and then to the Purple Hood...

...the end of the series was
already creeping up.

Clapping their hands
in a dingy show booth...

...but how many children realized that?

The movies traded precious memories
for instant gratification.

Really stupid, don't you think?

So, my predecessor's actual plan was?

"Do everything at face value."

"I don't want to use any colors
that can't become words."

A story that seems sensual,
but perhaps not.

For example, a heroine who's
the only woman among characters.

Fine. Start from there.

Mr. Director, do you know...

...the Italian American who embraced
the newly-born Technicolor... the drop of a hat?

Walt Disney.

Come to think of it, he was the one
who dragged "story" into animation.

Very suitable as our figurehead,
isn't he?

Cola definitely has to be Pepsi, huh?


Is it alright?

At least in movies,
it's not bad to be free from colors.


Over time, films discolor,
wear out, burn or melt away, and disapp-

Over time, films discolor,
wear out-


It's Itoh.

Assistant Animation Director
Tamiko Kobayashi

Tamiko Kobayashi, age 28.

A crackerjack
assistant animation director...

...a.k.a. "Tanko the blank frame."

A good student of mine and a colleague.

She and I have survived a
number of life-or-death crises together.

Anticipating the complexity
of the situation...

...I summoned her, my last trump card.

But later, it would complicate
the situation even more.

But, not being God,
I couldn't possibly have known that then.

Is it alright to start right away?

Go ahead.

First of all, the producer, Unoyama.

As a pretty big player, he seems to have
a lot of enemies in the industry.

The "director problem" becomes
more and more complex...

...and not even the distribution company
has been officially decided...

...but he's still supporting
the work front.

Nobody knows how he's doing it.

He paid me generously, though.

Why was he so obsessed with the idea of
using that Rei Maruwa, of all people?

Talk about mysteries,
that's what I call a mystery.

"That" Maruwa?

Do you want to hear?

I collected all the reviews
on him and his works.

No, it won't help ourjob in any way.

There are only two kinds
of movie critics.

Those who dislike animation
and those who don't.

No, those who don't watch animation
and those who do.

Gen Handawara, age 33.

Has 8-years experience as a desk-chief.

Was head-hunted for his skills
and moved from Aji Production.

Has chronic illnesses in the liver,
pancreas, kidneys, and heart.

Toshiki Tahara, age 29.

5 years experience as a
production assistant.

Fired by a studio for selling cells
through illegal channels...

...and was taken in by Unoyama.

Yasuo Handa, age 22.

Former wrestler.

Saw a want-ad 6 months ago
and joined the company.

The color keys, Aya and Tsuya Yasuda.

Ages unknown.

Self-proclaimed twins.

Three years ago...

...while working on a certain project
for a certain production company...

...they colored a character's skin
all green and were severely chastised.

The animation director,
Shinichiro Ohtsuka.

Age, nationality, country of origin, etc.,
all unknown.

No such person resides in the files.

Key animator, Jiro Itano, age 27.

Has been convicted
for the illegal possession of firearms...

...violating use of explosives laws, etc.

Worked at Torajima Animation Company
until last year...

...but was fired for nearly killing
an assistant animation director...

...and was taken in by Unoyama.

Another key animator,
Shoichi Yamashita, age 22.

Came to Tokyo at the age of 16
and kept moving from studio to studio.

Currently has no permanent address.
Tends to be emotionally unstable.

Key animator, Hiroshi Kitakubo, age 28.

Background unknown.
No permanent address.

Tends to display an abnormal
fixation for knives.

The inbetweener checker,
Chie Sasaki, called Chie.

Age unknown.

Rumor has it that she's been around
since the time of "Akado Suzunosuke."

Except for Handawara,
they're all a bunch of good-for-nothings.

Anyone else?

Of course it's a silly rumor, but a ghost
apparently dwells in this studio as well.

A "guest," you mean.

Though every studio has
a story like that.

If you think a movie...

...that's going to be spoken of uncaringly
shouldn't be made at all...

...then you shouldn't speak
uncaringly of a "guest," either.

Don't disturb the deceased.
Don't meddle with the gods.

Yes, the fact that we don't know the
audience makes it possible for us... movies, to speak or hide freely.

By the way, did you hear
about screenwriter Itoh?

They say it was a horrible sight.

Anything to do with this job?

Can't tell either way yet.

But why did he die the way he did?

In a movie, people tend to
want to spill their guts.

It's true that a lot of truths
are in what's spilled...

...but things that could nauseate
you are also in there.

Despite that, when the act of spilling
one's guts is often attempted...'s because movie-making is still
considered a special privilege.

Just as practicing magic is.

Itoh was one of those
who was caught up in such an illusion.

A screenwriter tends to fall into
a Ionely dialogue with his movie.

It causes him to isolate himself, to feel
stagnated and frustrated and eventually... invites a situation where
he ends up spilling his guts out.

That's precisely why one should make
a movie by communicating with others.

"Dialogue propels a movie forward."

You haven't changed.


L-it's the color keys, Aya and Tsuya!

Their heads were stuffed into
paint bottles or something?

How did you know?


I can't believe these two
would commit suicide.

But who?
What the hell for?

The screenwriter Itoh was found
as a dismembered corpse.

And now the color keys Aya and Tsuya.

Maybe there will be many more deaths.

It's possible that this only heralds
of more serious matters.

Handawara, hurry.

To Ohtsuka...

The animation director
Ohtsuka's apartment!

Hello, this is
animation director Ohtsuka.

By the time this animation is discovered,
I will probably have left this world.

Someone nailed my apartment door shut,
making it impossible for me to get out.

2 weeks have gone by.

Thinking that someone
would eventually rescue me,

...I took the situation lightly
and stayed holed up in my apartment.

How stupid of me.

By the time I ate up all my food...

...I had no strength left
to break the door open.

And, I tried to call for help...

...but the phone didn't work
since I hadn't paid the phone bill.

Most likely, I will gradually
die from exhaustion.

I guess you could call it fate.

Given the infamous name
"The Phantom Animator"...

...which I never reflected on until now,
I have spent my life in idleness.

Maybe I am being made to pay for it now.

Yet, during these last moments
of my life... animation director
of the current project...

...I wish to continue making notes about
the theme given to me by Director Maruwa...

...until I run out of gas.
That's why I picked up my pencil.

To the inbetweener in charge;

My hand is shaky from malnutrition,
so the key drawings are rough.

But please frame the two
in-between into two.

To speak about a character always
involves a certain type of difficulty.

That is because,
when speaking about a character... is more vulnerable, is strongly
urged by one's unconsciousness...

...and without even realizing it, is forced
to take an ideological standpoint.

As you know, the audience usually
understands the roles in the story...

...such as heroes and villains,
through cinematic figures called...

..."personas" or the instance of
"specific roles performed by actors"... well as the instance of the
individuals who are identifiable...

...and have inner human rights.

However, in animation...

...actors serving as actual entities
of these "personas" do not exist.

That makes the matter even more
complex and mysterious.

As long as movements and voices
are added accordingly by voice talents...

...there are no characters
that cannot exist in animation.

Not to mention ordinary people,
but animals, plants, monsters, aliens...

...and even desks and chairs
and melon bread...

...or even a gunk can, as an existence
that has inner personality...

...and a specific role in a
certain story, can be created.

A dream character can be anything
and can be drawn in any way.

A character that a real actor
cannot play, even if he tried.

However, because of
this unlimited possibility...

...animation characters are forced to
suffer from not being able to shoulder...

...the ideological demands
placed upon them.

In other words, the preferences and
personal feelings of the people involved.


With long hair,
or short.



Old man.

The planning meeting gets entangled,
the director gets mad...

...the animation director is called names,
the sponsor is cursed...

...and the fans send razor blades.

A character is drawn
by multiple animators...

...and does not bear the
slightest resemblance.

Yet, as long as its voice is
performed by the same person...

...or even if voice talents change
in an emergency situation...

...the existence of that character
is unquestioningly identified.

What a mystery.

After all, is a character an existence
which, using images as a catalyst...

...and propagates itself inside
the mind of the audience... existence without substance?

Is it an image reinforced
by countless episodes and situations...

...and nothing more?

I suspect the director's hesitation
resided on this point.

The task given to me,
to design an "absent character"...

...may have been derived from his fresh
attempt, secret malice and his obsession.

A character who is repeatedly
spoken of in the movie.

The one who is always
the main topic of conversation...

...and yet does not appear on screen
even once-an absent character.

A character doesn't need a persona or
a specific instance of a mysterious air...

...of a certain character which is emitted
as the sediment of the persona...

...because it's absent.

A character who is never exposed
to the eyes of an audience...

...although recognized
as an inner personality.

A character defined solely
by the intention of the creator...

...a pure and ultimate existence.

But, after having shut myself up in the
apartment, waiting for death as I am now...

...what comes to my mind is
something exactly opposite.

A character that is constantly on screen,
but who in reality is absent.

Maybe such a character
could also exist.

OK. Thank you.

Thank you very much.

Quite a performance.

If at least half of it was in color,
I could've added a bit more sound, too.

It's alright.

You even added some neat effects.

It turned out to be
a nice posthumous work.

The line-drawing is
the posthumous work?


So, what about the autopsy result?

The estimated time of death
is a week ago.

From starvation.

His stomach was completely empty.

So it was right after the
mutilation murder of Itoh...

...and 5 days before
Aya and Tsuya's drawings.

I wonder if it's a serial murder case
by the same killer.

From the screenwriter... the animation director... the color keys.

Who's next?

Can't tell you. But...

But, what?

Judging from what's happened so far... could say those with
whom the director had...

...or tried to have a meeting with
are being killed in that order.

Congratulations Kawai, you are on.


Because the sound effects and music
are in one and the same boat.

Mutilation, starvation, and drowning.

The next murder method would be...
What do you think?

Don't know.

Recording Director
Shijimi Shiba
Ken Kawai

A serial killer or whatever he is.

We the sound producers can,
if we want to...

...decide life and death of a character
by a mere sound effect or a line.

I'd like to see him try to kill me!

The introduction of voices into movies.

Movies kept telling the stories
of their own origins...

...and, as tragedies and comedies
about silent film stars'...

...and master filmmakers' downfalls,
also kept telling...

...almost over-sentimentally, stories about
the happenings of their world.

It was, by no means, an accident.

Because the introduction of voices was
started as a change... the movie character's instance,
and as the story about man's existence.

The movies were closed
and self-sufficient.

In silent movies where
existence precedes essence...

...a person first comes into existence
as an action-performing subject.

The world is already there
when he notices it.

Having been suddenly thrown
into its vortex...

...he has to accept it without a choice.

And thereafter take a role
in the story by taking actions.

With no memories of himself,
prior to acting out his story...

...of the time when he was still unborn.

On the other hand,
in movies that acquired voices...

...the character appears as an existence
who already has a personality.

A modern ego, that can't be challenged.

Then, after speaking his scripted,
magnificent lines...

...he starts taking actions.

Movie-making, though I hesitate
to say so, is not a fixed occupation.

Movie-making, well, if I can say so,
isn't a fixed occupation. Ha-ha-ha!

Movie-making, yo, if you wanna know,
ain't no fixed occupation!

Moreover, in this case,
"voices" do not necessarily refer solely... characters' spoken dialogue
and monologue.

In movies, their inner thoughts are
also expressed and told as voices.

Indeed, by speaking the characters
have freed themselves...

...from the silent movies' world
of excessive and stylized gestures...

...and pushed themselves up
from being merely performers...

...who play certain roles
to that of personas.

And that same technology made it possible
for animation characters...

...that were after all nothing
more than theoretical patterns... appear to have complex minds.

Animation started telling stories
and then became movies.

Night after night, maddening
animation ADR sessions are being held.

It is a place of celebration...

...where the history of transforming
silent movies to sound is re-enacted.

And it is also a Sabbath of the heretics
with a picture-less film...

...placed in the altar as their idol.

In the world of animation,
the true ruler of the work...

...who can control not only
a character's life and death...

...but also its entire existence,
including how its innermost mind works... none other than the sound director.

In his presence, even the director
himself is just a mere technician...

...whose onlyjob is to design the images
and oversee the production.

What should be looked for in a
director is not creativity...

...but rather an ability
to manage the production.

And for this reason...


I've had enough of this farce.

I have no intention of letting a voice
from outside the images...

...speak about movies.

It's true, in the history of movies...

...voices were always
subordinate to the images.

And at the same time,
regardless of circumstances...

...they dominated the images
as the voice of truth...

...and put them in their proper order.

No audience doubts the narration.

However, that's precisely why one must
make it clear who is doing the speaking.

The voice dominating the images.

What power does that voice
hold as the foundation?

What one must take measure
of is its true identity.

The words sound truthful, as long as
they are spoken along with the images.

That tacit agreement between creators
and audience is indeed...

...the spell of voices from
which movies cannot get free.

That's the trap movies walked
into right on their own... having pretended
to assume the air of reality.

The matter is always simple.

The only thing that's true is
the moment in the act of speaking!

You merely stretched the
interpretation of the movies' fate... a means of expression.

This is also the
limitation of the system...

...because a movie is defined
by what comes after it.

It may have worked on a
greenhorn who just started...

...but not on me and Kobayashi,
who have seen hell countless times.

You came before your time.

From now on, the use of off-screen voices
such as narration in this film... prohibited by the authority
vested in me as the director!


Please. Please.

You are going to protect us, aren't you?

That's outside my contract.

But please, can't you possibly...?

Mr. Kawai, was it?

Originally, an image isn't
a dangerous thing at all.

It's objective, fair,
and if I may say so, democratic.

However, when a certain type of image
is tied with music... becomes something alluring that could
contain the danger of ruining a person.

That's why music must be kept
as a faithful partner of the images.

I'd try not to be alone, if I were you.

Excuse me.

Waitjust a second, please.

Stop pestering me!

Like I said, you can't get away
by just saying "you can't finish it."

I told you, your crying there
ain't gonna do any good.

Just listen to me!

Shut up, you jerk!


Hello, is this Torajima Animation?

My name is Chie.

Yes, well, may I please...

...speak with the key animator
Mr. Utsunomiya?

Ah, is this IG?

Sorry to bother you when you are busy...

...but is the animation director
Mr. Kise there, please?

Endo, dear.

I want to ask you a favor.

Yeah, can you bring over the game?

Mr. Kaneda?

It's me, Chi-e.

How are you?

The animation director
Ohtsuka was the fourth.

If we are to take the
logical course of thinking...

...the murderer has to be
someone involved in this project...

...who gains in some way
by the deaths of the victims.

The question is, what is there to gain?

To hinder the progress of the project?

The victims, every one of them...

...talked their heads off
about movies before being killed.

If ourjob is to materialize
my predecessor's intentions...

...and if the murder's goal
is to hinder us...

...then I can't say for the life of me
that he's being efficient.

They really did talk a lot.

Though it's true that self-reference
is an element of a good movie.

Did it help?


Well, that's a different matter.

In truth, a movie that has been spoken is
always nothing but a memory of the movie.

One cannot even quote it,
let alone point it out.

And when one wishes to talk
about it, it cannot be presented.

On top of that...'s not even an experience
that can be shared with others.

It's a personal experience.

That's what watching a movie really is.

One cannot describe
in words what he's seen.

Because, there is no relationship
whatsoever between seeing it...

...and describing it in words.

To watch a movie,
to have watched a movie... talk about a movie one has watched,
and to talk about watching a movie.

There is nothing in common
among these actions.

Needless to say for multiple people,
but even for an individual...

...a movie can never stand
in front of us as the same experience...

...unless having the illusion as a premise
that a film as a text is a single thing.


A place where one can speak
accurately about a movie.

If such a place exists...'s probably only inside the theater
when the movie is actually in progress.

Dr. Tondabayashi
of Sohsui Surgery Institute...

Dr. Tondabayashi, please...
...come to the ICU No.2.


Mr. Morita!



In a tight fix, aren't you?

The guys in the studio look ready to kill.

A play preaches
the unity of the audience...

...while a movie preaches
the isolation of them.

Sorry, but we'll have to
give you some trouble again.

Well, it's my job to
make things look plausible.

It's too early for me to start,
but I thought I'd show my face.

Everything has to be seen
at least twice.

Kiyokazu Morita

It's always necessary
to see things twice.

To see them twice, and by doing so,
bring two things together...

...and establish some sort
of relationship.

That's what I call editing.

This is also the correct way
of viewing a movie.

It's necessary to see it twice.

It's necessary to see it twice.

It's necessary to see it twice.

It's necessary to see it many times!

That's why you bothered to show up?

You have to be diligent to be an editor.

Seems there isn't enough material
for me to start, so I'll see you later.

How dare they drop dead
without permission?

The deadline is almost here, and
we don't even have the trailer finished.

Can I ask something?

When did you start being
a migrant animation director?

Maybe it pays good, but isn't it
tough with enemies everywhere?

Why not settle down at some studio?

The best work is always done in a foreign
place, in a situation similar to exile.

They say all of Lenin's ideas were
formed while he was outside Russia.

In those days, the Russian people
suffered from hunger...

...but Lenin himself was riding a bike
in the mountains near Zurich.

By being in such a situation... being in two different places
simultaneously... can best contemplate ideas.

In two different places simultaneously.

Having one's self divided into two.

A situation like that.

But anyway, doing what we're doing...

...are you sure anything
will come out of it?

From here to there, and from there
to here, we'rejust moving.

What a movie always protests is
"a different place and a different space."

A movie is made by moving.


The movie is right in front
of our eyes now.

Hey, wake up!

Are you alright?

Pretty good, aren't you?

A mere migrant animation director,
acting as he pleases.

This is where your filmography ends.

Finish him!



This photo-gun is capable of
24 FPS rapid-firing.

When they break the rule of the subjects
and go over the 9 feet line...

...that's our chance.


Having failed to arrange
an army of subcontractors...

...those 3 launched a desperate attack on
us, but ended up destroying themselves.

And, things continued to take turns
for the worse.

The evil hands of the faceless killer...

...began to reach out toward
the other members of the staff.

The next day, Kawai the composer...

...who had been frightened by the
shadow of death and gone into hiding...

...was found drowned in Yugawara,
where he had run away.

And, upon hearing the news, Handawara...





Our one and only ally,
the chief who was struggling on...

...while leading the
incompetent assistants, was no more.

And as if to deliver a final blow...

...the sound director Shijimi
was killed by poison laced in her lipstick.

I can't see you

From behind the curtain, a voice came

I lifted it with the tip of my finger

And saw only an empty space

It's only my imagination

There's nobody there

The past I've been looking for is a fake

The days I miss so are not here

Oh, I cannot say goodbye

Twisted times passing each other

Behind the time when the light shines

You block them off

The color that changes
when the moon waxes

Light and shadow do not mix

Fascinated by the closed world

I start falling without knowing

Looking through a piece of blue glass

Maybe I can meet my shadow self

The colorless outline is sneering

Oh, sharing a dream, that's all it was

One person replacing the other

Behind the time when the light shines

I block them off

The color that changes when the moon waxes
The front is the back of the back, so...

...From behind the door
of the emergency exit

Looking for tomorrow...

Looking for tomorrow...

Can't sleep?

You should try to get some rest at least.

As if to race against
the looming deadline...

...the situation took an abrupt turn.

Yet, the movie had to be propelled
forward without a moment to spare.

However, on that day...

...I was beginning to understand the
true nature of the strange feeling...

...that had constantly clung to me...

...since I first set foot in this studio.

Manager Nagarawa, Manager Nagarawa,
please come to the nearest phone.

This is a routine
work-related announcement:

Dr. Ohmura, the pot-boiled noodle
you ordered is here.

Please eat it before it gets cold.

The same, familiar studio.
The same sight.

And the same faces.

Yet, something was different.

This is a routine
work-related announcement:

After 2:00 p. M...

...the central elevator may be used for
the transportation of dead bodies only.

The situation couldn't
have been any worse.

The work continued to stagnate.

The staff members were dropping off
because of the mysterious serial killer.

And, hiding something important...

...Tamiko, my assistant, was probably
keeping a watch over me.

And, it's possible...

...because of his obsession
with the production...

...Handawara came back as a zombie.

With those two as my team, I had to
complete the unidentifiable movie.

You pushed the plot forward this time.

It'll be hard putting them together.

There's no such thing in a movie
as a cut that can't be connected.

As long as you have this.

Unlooked-for intruders
and unexpected cuts.

With the ability to swallow them all,
a movie can be an incomplete system.

What's important isn't a
narrative consistency between cuts...

...that are connected together.

It's what sort of relationship
you can discover between the cuts.

Isn't that so?

Shall we start?

An unfinished movie left behind
by a director who disappeared.

A series of murders takes place
following the disappearance.

By identifying the murderer
and presenting his motives...

...all the mysteries are solved.

I put them together based on
that pedestrian plot for a start.

I don't know about that.

We've been freewheeling wildly until now.

An ordinary ending is impossible,
I should think.

Hey, don't tell me you're going
to start using deconstruction...

...and metafiction
and all that postmodern stuff.

Sorry, but that seems to be the case.

Think about it.

What was the proposition given to
the now-dead crew by my predecessor?

"An absent character."

A movie that is the story.

A game for which
you make rules as you go along.

Yes, something does stink pretty badly.

L-I took this job 'cause
I heard it was an entertaining film.

But the very person who
set up this whole thing is absent.

Give it up and redo it.

First of all, is this really
a serial killer case?

We can start from there.

We have to go back that far?

Look behind you.

A man who died once is still
taking a part in the story as a zombie.

How can you be sure that
other guys aren't behind my back...

...having midnight tea parties?

Perhaps with Kobayashi here?

A death of a character in a movie... nothing more than
an agreement made for the story.

It could be breached at any time.

Disguise, proxy, illusion.

If one wants to, it's possible to play
hardball and bring him back as a cyborg.

As long as things are progressing
outside the boundary of realism...'s dangerous to set absolutes
on past developments as fixed facts.

Oh, boy.

Hello, cutting room.


Yes, thank you.

Tahara and Handa are on the way here
to pick up the rushes.

Should we take a coffee break?

The rich aroma that
forcibly interrupts the story.

The deep taste that makes
even a zombie's eyes pop out.

When you are tired of a confused story.

For you, who know the difference,
try Dog Blend.

What ajoke.

Human beings being bossed around
by a zombie like that.

We can't let that creep work
as the chief of this movie!

I'll show them.

Soon, I will, by my own hands...

I mean, if you think of the seniority list,
the next chief is, you know...

Oh, but I'm not...

I'm not...
I'm not...

When the day that
I become the chief dawns...

...I will first throw out thatjerk
of a migrant tech director.

Hey, the light!

On March 14, 1932, an American,
George Eastman, acknowledged his wishes...

...about the disposal of his property
in the presence of his lawyer.

Shortly after the lawyer left,
he shot himself to death.

The true inventor of the movies was
Louis Aime Augustine Le Prince.

On September 16, 1890,
after visiting his siblings in Dijon,

he got on a train going back to Paris
and nobody ever saw him again.

Neither his body,
nor his luggage were ever found.

The developer of the camera
capable of shooting 4 frames per second...

...using paper-based film, was
the Englishman William Friese-Greene.

In 1921, at a gathering of
movie industry people...

...which included not even one person
who knew him...

...and while passionately giving a speech
in front of an audience, he died.

A natural scientist Emile Reynaud.

Caught by a spell of depression
that nothing was going well...

...he threw his films and equipment
into the Seine in 1910...

...and died in a sanitarium
in Ivory in 1918.

And, the great "Grand" George Melies.

Melies produced a staggering 4000 movies
between 1896 to 1914.

In the 1930's Melies was sighted at a
kiosk in the Montparnasse station...

...with his second wife.

He was making a living
by selling souvenirs.

He died on June 21, 1938.

What is the ominous shadow creeping up
behind the history of motion pictures?

The truth would freeze
the whole world in fear.

"Talking Head."
Coming soon.

Well, looks pretty good.

Replace the blanks tonight...

...and finish the first print by the
afternoon the day after tomorrow, right?


Hey, where is Mr. Morita?

We're in the home stretch now.

You're determined to do this?

Once the truth is revealed,
the movie comes to an end.

Now that the story has been developed
around the mystery...

...that's the only way
it can come to an end.

Although, whether it will be the
confession from the mastermind...

...of this whole thing, or a
mystery-solving clue is yet to be known.

Either way, it's by surviving
that one is qualified to tell everything.

Get Itano for me.

Redo these.

Can't hear you.

Surviving to the end, your existence
itself is set for a retake.

Go and be reborn once.

Self-replacement trick!

Right behind you.

Come out!

Did you call me?


Come out!
It's your turn.

What's the matter?

What's the point of hesitating now?

You or me, whichever survives
will tell the truth...

...and put together a new crew
to complete the film.

That's the only way.

In any case...

...a truth told at the end of the movie
can't possibly be the one and only truth.


But we aren't the only ones
remaining here.

You must have known it since long ago.

Maybe ever since when you set foot
in this studio for the first time.

You just refused to acknowledge
and accept it.

What are you talking about?

I'm finally beginning to see.

A movie that has a name,
but whose nature is unknown.

Staff who were killed in order.

They were faithfully acting out
the roles given to them...

...and at the same time,
hinting about the truth of the matter.

A movie that is the story.

A man who is being constantly spoken of
by others but never shows himself.

The existence who rules the situation
from outside the frame.

And that's not all.

The man who cast a shadow
behind every single incident.

Everything was done
to materialize his intentions...

...and it progressed according to his plan.


The movie is, as we speak,
moving forward as scheduled.

Your predecessor isn't missing,
nor is he dead.

He must be, as we speak, somewhere
in this studio directing this film.

You and I, who are appearing
in this movie... order to materialize his intentions,
are nothing but characters in the story.

The one who remains standing
in the end to tell the truth...'s neither you or me. It's him!

Director's Office

Shinichi Unoyama

Kazumaro Itoh

Ken Kawai

Animation Director
Shinichiro Ohtsuka

Character Design
Yuji Izubuchi

Director of Photography
Akio Wakaba

Art Director
Mitsuru Ohkura

Art Desk
Hachiro Kobayashi

Kohji Zeshin
Mitsuko Shimotani
Tadashi Kimura

Key Animators
Jiro Itano / Shoichi Yamashita
Hiroshi Kitakubo / Jyunji Abe
Sachi Akimoto / Nami Tsuchiya
Kyoko Godai / Fujiko Mine

Production Supervisor
Gen Handawara

Production Assistants
Toshiki Tahara / Yasuo Handa

Animation Produced in Association with
Studio Dutch / Toriyama Production
Tokyo Movie Piiman / Film 21
Studio Kinpeibai / Tsunoebi Studio
American Grisder / Studio Kintaro
Continental Room / Tohnichi Animation
Office of Hide Idera / Studio Summit
World Animation / Office Mamoru
Morita Editing Office

Produced in Association with
Studio Happyakubariki Ltd.

Assistant Animation Director
Tamiko Kobayashi

Rei Maruwa

"Talking Head" Premiere

Good work.

Just as I thought,
the best apprentice trained by him.

It turned out splendidly.


But you know, I should have realized.

Though we knew of his abnormal
obsession about this project...

...when his bizarre behavior
came to our attention...

...he was already
becoming schizophrenic.

The crew members were confused
and the work was halted.

He couldn't even distinguish
between me complaining and his doctor.

According to the doctor,
it was a second personality conjured up... order to save the one
that had broke-down.

But a "migrant animation director?"

Old habits die hard, as they say.

It was necessary.


To begin with, a movie is more than
one director can handle alone.

That's what he taught me.

That if you can't do it by yourself,
you must conjure up a second self.

What the director had to rescue
was not himself.

Maybe, I myself was the
third personality conjured up by him.

Come on, don't give me that.
It's your turn next?

They say a director could occasionally
develop complex feelings toward his crew...

...that's not unlike the urge to kill.

I forced you all to play along
with such an obsession...

...and I'm sorry about that.

He never returned to normal,
but his work is going out into the world.

It also means that
I didn't waste my money after all.

You did well.

You perfectly completed
what your predecessor intended to do.

Indeed, the movie is
right in front of our eyes now.