You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mishima – A Life in Four Chapters

Paul Schrader's film Mishima is a boldly conceived, intelligent and consistently absorbing study of the Japanese writer and political iconoclast's life, work and death.

Ken Ogata Kenji Sawada Yasosuke Bando Toshiyuki Nagashima

Paul Schrader’s film Mishima is a boldly conceived, intelligent and consistently absorbing study of the Japanese writer and political iconoclast’s life, work and death.

The most famous of contemporary Japanese novelists to Westerners, Yukio Mishima was also a film actor and director and leader of a militant right-wing cult bent upon restoring the glory of the emperor. He became forever notorious in 1970 when, accompanied by a few followers, he entered a military garrison in Tokyo, ‘captured’ a general, delivered an impassioned speech to an assembly and then committed seppuku (ritual suicide).

Instead of pretending to deliver a fully factual, detailed biopic, director Paul Schrader, his co-screenwriter and brother Leonard and other collaborators have opted to combine relatively realistic treatment of some aspects of Mishima’s life, particularly his final day, with highly stylized renditions of assorted semi-autobiographical literary works (Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko’s House and Run- away Horses) in an effort to convey key points about the man’s personality and credos.

Pacing sometimes lags, particularly in the fictional interludes, and uninitiated audiences may be confused at times. Production itself, however, is stunning, and performances, led by that of Ken Ogata as the adult Mishima, are authoritative and convincing. [Pic is in Japanese with English subtitles, and narration read by Roy Scheider.]

Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters

Production: Zoetrope/Filmlink. Director Paul Schrader; Producer Mata Yamamoto, Tom Luddy; Screenplay Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader, Chieko Schrader; Camera John Bailey; Editor Michael Chandler, Tomoyo Oshima; Music Philip Glass; Art Director Eiko Ishioka

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1985. Running time: 120 MIN.

With: Ken Ogata Kenji Sawada Yasosuke Bando Toshiyuki Nagashima

More Film

  • I Lost My Body

    Netflix Pickup ‘I Lost My Body,’ ‘Buñuel,’ ‘Away’ Top Annecy Festival

    ANNECY, France  — Fulfilling expectations, Jeremy Clapin’s “I Lost My Body, the subject of one of the highest-profile Netflix deals at this year’s Cannes, won this Saturday the Annecy Festival’s top Cristal Award of best feature plus, in a relatively rare Annecy double whammy, the festival’s Audience Award. The first was expected, the second a [...]

  • 'Fausto' Review: Andrea Bussmann's Beautuful, Inscrutable

    Locarno in Los Angeles Film Review: 'Fausto'

    In more ways than one, “Fausto” is a film that likes to keep its audience in the dark: The bulk of its imagery is thickly cloaked in velvety night, often barely illuminated but for pinpricks of moonlight or a flickering candle, sometimes to the point where viewers must strain and squint to identify what they’re [...]

  • Toy Story 4

    The 15 Best Films of 2019 (So Far)

    By now, audiences have caught on to the way American distributors tend to stockpile their quality movies for end-of-year award-season release, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t treasures to be found in the first two quarters. In fact, sometimes it’s the movies that aren’t making a self-important Oscar push that wind up hitting closest to [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth (H) with Em (Tessa

    'Men In Black: International' Taking in $26 Million Amid Franchise Fatigue

    North American moviegoers spurned sequels this weekend with Sony’s “Men in Black: International” heading for a modest $26 million debut while “Shaft” will finish with a dismal $7.3 million in seventh place. “Men in Black: International,” the fourth iteration of the sci-fi comedy franchise, is performing under expectations, which had been in the $30 million [...]

  • Night scenery of the Bund in

    Shanghai Festival Defies Gloom to Open on Upbeat Note

    The Chinese film industry may not yet have emerged from a “cold winter” production freeze, nor its box office kept pace with 2018. But but those inclement elements did not put a chill on the pageantry at the Shanghai International Film Festival. The opening ceremony for the festival’s 22nd edition went ahead Saturday with the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content