Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

1985

Biography / Drama

3
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 91%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 6452

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Roy Scheider as Narrator
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1.04 GB
1280*682
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 0 min
P/S 0 / 20
1.97 GB
1920*1024
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 0 min
P/S 6 / 43

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by irajoel 10 / 10

MISHIMA: A Troubled Life in Four Chapters

One would think that a film based on the life of the Japanese author Yukio Mishima would be a daunting if not impossible task. However Paul Schrader has indeed made a film "about" Mishima that is both superb & complex. While it is not a literal biography, Schrader & his co-screenwriter Leonard Scharder (his brother) have taken several incidents from his life, including his sucide and crafted what can best be described as incidental tableaus that are visually sparse and stunning. Mishima's homosexuality is almost not there, due to legal threats from his widow, but in spite of this, the film is still terrific, and one of the best films I saw in 1985. I should also mention the important contribution of Philip Glass who did the score, which adds an additional texture to the film, and is superior to the one he did for Scorsese's Kundun. Also notable is John Bailey's fine crisp beautifully colored cinematography and the great production design & costumes by Eiko Ishioka who went on to do the memorable costumes for Coppola's Dracula for which she received a well deserved Oscar. Hopefully this film will soon be available on DVD.

Reviewed by Joseph Sylvers 8 / 10

Like A Boy At A Window Or A Sword In A Sheath

The only pure life, is one that ends with a signature in blood.

So says Mishima anyway, a young sheltered boy who becomes a celebrity author. The life of one of Japans most celebrated literary voices, is told from three perspectives, his life just before he and four members of his private army take over a Japanese military base and commit ritual suicide(shown in color), flashbacks(shown in black and white), and scenes from his novels(shown in a kind of dreamy Technicolor set design somewhere between traditional Noh Theater and "the Wizard Of Oz". These stories are often told at the same time, but are edited to reinforce, the slow fusing of Mishima's life with his fictions, until the end(or the beginning) when like the ancient samurai he so admires, he will be at a balance of pen and sword (when his words and actions are the same, and he is a full and "pure" being).

Paul Schrader wrote the screen play for "Taxi Driver", and directed "Cat People"(a bizarre erotic horror film, which left strange impressions on me as a boy), and in Mishima, he comes closest to making a really excellent film.

Whats interesting is to watch the poet, the homosexual, the shy and awkward man with a low body image who overstates his Tuberculosis to get of of WW2 (of which he seems forever ashamed), become a body building, samurai obsessed, a-sexual, media phenomena, all the while still writing prolific amounts of novels, plays, and short stories.

A short and sweet version is to say Mishima has no father, and becomes obsessed with masculinity, beauty, sex and self destruction, in some tragic attempt to feel connected to something bigger than himself, that he was always missing. Watching him with his fellow suicidal cadets, you see him happy, delivering his big paternal speech, giving orders, and loving the control...until the speech itself, the point where pen and sword meet? Of course, this ignores the subtlety of the story telling craft here which makes this transformation so natural and remarkable.

Though the story, fascinating at times, really isn't this movies greatest success. The cinematography, performances, editing,music(by Philip Glass), and set designs, are really what make this worth seeing, and more than a traditional bio-pic.

One day I will pick, up a Mishima book, he does seem to have an ear for prose, and for staging ideas, but for now I'm satisfied with the film.

Those interested in Japanese Literature, and post-war culture, should check out. Fans of inventive combinations of facts and fictions, should enjoy as well.

Reviewed by david-345 10 / 10

A beautiful work of art

Movies are something you see on Saturday night and forget by Sunday morning. Motion pictures are works of art that stick with you forever. Mishima falls into the latter category. This is the type of thing that should win Academy Awards, a brilliant, visual peice of film that is both depressing and uplifting. Instead of doing a straightforward look at the life of Yukio Mishima, director Paul Schrader interweaves three adaptations of the author's stories into a look at his past and final day on Earth, the day he tried to lead the Japanese military into rebellion in the name of the Emperor. Failing to do that, he commits ritual suicide in an ending that hits you like a ton of bricks. The three short story adaptations allow a look into what led him to this and are presented in an experimental way that makes them appear to be filmed stage plays. Ken Ogata is magnificent as Mishima. Despite his eccentricities, he comes off as very sympathetic, a man who is quite willing to die for his beliefs and does. This makes the ending that much more devastating and the sense of loss more meaningful. Of the three story adaptations, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House and Runaway Horses, it is the last that is the strongest and most emotional. It also is the story that most closely matches Mishima's mood in his final years and illustrates what truly led him to the events of November 1970. This review cannot be complete without a mention of Philip Glass' striking musical score. Not since 2001 has a film score been such a perfect compliment to it's visuals. Paul Schrader crafted one of the most beautiful movies of the 1980s or any other decade for that matter. Have the hankies at the ready because the ending will leave you in tears. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters reminds you that sometimes film can still be an art form and as art it is brilliant.

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