copy to clipboard

Achilles and the Tortoise

Plugin not supported.
Original title
Achilles to Kame (Achilles and the Tortoise)
Running time
120 min.
Japan Japan
Takeshi Kitano
Yuki Kajiura
Katsumi Yanagishima
, , , , , , , ,
Office Kitano / Bandai Visual Company
Drama. Comedy | Black Comedy. Comedy-Drama. Painting
Synopsis / Plot
The final installment in an iconoclastic trilogy on creative destruction, Achilles and the Tortoise is Takeshi Kitano's newest reflection on art and life. Unlike the author's previous works Takeshis' and Glory to the Filmmaker! – both of which were highly conceptual ruminations on the vocation and philosophy of filmmaking – this latest effort carries a more open, audience-friendly message.

The film takes its title from a famous paradox by the pre-Socratic philosopher Zeno, which claimed that motion, time and change are nothing but illusions. Achilles and the Tortoise tackles the idea that art is a chimera, and follows the absurd, star-crossed life of a man with no talent. As a result of his father's love of modern Western art, Machisu (Reo Yoshioka), a quiet, introverted child, is inspired to become a painter himself. Obsessive and obstinate – yet talentless – the child devotes all of his time to painting, not even losing heart when his father, once a wealthy factory owner, goes bankrupt and commits suicide.

As a young adult, Machisu (Yurei Yanag) continues to find comfort in his mediocre art and in the company of a group of fellow students with whom he shares the unrealistic dream of becoming famous. With banal results, he mimics all of the fashionable trends, from pop art to abstract expressionism, and struggles through life in a crescendo of crazy irrationality. Machisu (now played by Beat Takeshi himself), his stubborn lack of talent persisting into adulthood, eventually spirals into disturbed, upsetting behaviour.

Sophisticated and original, Achilles and the Tortoise features a rich procession of paintings by Kitano. Though designed to represent the failure of an amateur artist, these works are actually quite fascinating. Furnishing an elegant subtext to the film's smooth narrative texture, the pictures write Machisu's emotional history, filling in his many silences. Tinted with unusual chromatic choices – sepia fading around the coloured paintings of his childhood, psychedelic acrylic shades portraying his youth – the film skilfully embeds high-art meditations in a relatively simple storyline. It offers a perfect theorem, destined to outpace Zeno's paradox and restore reality to art. (From
2008: Venice Film Festival: Nominated for Golden Lion (Best Film)
Movie Soulmates' ratings
Register so you can access movie recommendations tailored to your movie taste.
Friends' ratings
Register so you can check out ratings by your friends, family members, and like-minded members of the FA community.
Is the synopsis/plot summary missing? Do you want to report a spoiler, error or omission? Please send us a message.
If you are not a registered user please send us an email to

All copyrighted material (movie posters, DVD covers, stills, trailers) and trademarks belong to their respective producers and/or distributors.

For US ratings information please visit:
FAQs | Privacy policy / use conditions | Privacy configuration
© 2002-2018 Filmaffinity - Movieaffinity | Filmaffinity is a movie recommendation site based on the concept of Movie Soulmates.
We are an independent movie lovers club worldwide with 646.000 users + 133.000.000 ratings. Not related to any Media or Corporation.
All Rights Reserved | Movie Soulmates™ is a Registered Trademark