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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  20 September 1985 (USA)
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A fictionalized account in four segments of the life of Japan's celebrated twentieth-century author Yukio Mishima. Three of the segments parallel events in Mishima's life with his novels (... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Ogata ...
Masayuki Shionoya ...
Morita (segment "November 25, 1970")
Hiroshi Mikami ...
Cadet #1 (segment "November 25, 1970")
Junya Fukuda ...
Cadet #2 (segment "November 25, 1970")
Shigeto Tachihara ...
Cadet #3 (segment "November 25, 1970")
Junkichi Orimoto ...
General Mashita (segment "November 25, 1970")
Naoko Ôtani ...
Mother (segment "Flashbacks")
Gô Rijû ...
Mishima, age 18-19 (segment "Flashbacks")
Masato Aizawa ...
Mishima - age 9-14 (segment "Flashbacks")
Yuki Nagahara ...
Mishima, age 5 (segment "Flashbacks")
Kyûzô Kobayashi ...
Literary Friend (segment "Flashbacks")
Yuuki Kitazume ...
Dancing Friend (segment "Flashbacks")
Haruko Katô ...
Grandmother (segment "Flashbacks")
Yasosuke Bando ...
Mizoguchi (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion")
Hisako Manda ...
Mariko (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion")


A fictionalized account in four segments of the life of Japan's celebrated twentieth-century author Yukio Mishima. Three of the segments parallel events in Mishima's life with his novels (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), Kyoko's House, and Runaway Horses), while the fourth depicts 25 November 1970, "The Last Day"... Written by Nick Lopez <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


On November 25, 1970, Japan's greatest author Yukio Mishima commited an act that shocked the literary world...


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

20 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mishima  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)


$450,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Has never been officially released in Japan even to this day (2005) theatrically or on video because of the controversy over both Yukio Mishima's politics and the film itself. However, it has been shown on television (albiet with the gay bar scene removed) and the U.S. DVD can legally be imported there. See more »


The word "country" written in Japanese kanji on the hachimaki is the simplified character. On the actual hachimakis, the kanji for "country" was the long traditional form. See more »


Yukio Mishima (Narrator): All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. For forty-five years I struggled to resolve this dilemma by writing plays and novels. The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. So I found another form of expression.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Yukio Mishima is acknowledged to have been a real person, but his acts have been fictionalized by writers. Other persons and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons and events is unintentional. See more »


Referenced in Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

MISHIMA: A Troubled Life in Four Chapters
3 April 2001 | by (new york city) – See all my reviews

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.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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