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
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Mishima's family originally cooperated with the making of this film but when their request that the gay bar scene be removed was denied, they withdrew their help. See more »
Mishima didn't exaggerate his illness. He was declared unfit for military service because of an inexperienced Army physician's misdiagnosis. See more »
By turning one's life into a line of poetry written in a splash of blood.
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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 »
"Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is one of those films which is extremely hard to write about simply because it hit me on such an emotional level and stunned me with its artistry to the point where writing a review or comment on the film seems trivial and useless. Hence, this will be rambling and poorly-written, but I'll give it a shot anyway.
The easiest thing to talk about when discussing "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is the technical elements of the film. The narrative is superb and fairly original with a fine script by Chieko, Leonard, and Paul Schrader and Schrader's decisions as director are pretty much faultless. Every stylistic turn the film took, every sequence which took a risk, and pretty much the whole time the camera was in motion I was utterly enthralled and fascinated with how well the film works as a film. Paul Schrader may not be as great a storyteller as some of the great directors are but in "Mishima" he proves that he is more than capable of being a wonderful storyteller if necessary. The film moves at an extraordinarily fast pace and one barely notices the passing of the two hours.
I have to say, despite being a literature buff to an extent, I have never read anything by Mishima. I knew one or two things about Mishima, including the big ending to his story (which I won't reveal, to keep this spoiler-free) prior to seeing the film, but not much else. Perhaps this is why I felt, contrary to some others, that the film got progressively stronger and ended with a breathtakingly brilliant final act. I also found it completely refreshing how this biopic took no position on Mishima or the final act of his life- it is simply a portrait of a man, not a comment on his life.
The Phillip Glass score is utterly brilliant. There is very little of this film that doesn't prominently feature it, which can come off as the result of a lack of confidence from the director, but in this case it is used superbly well in the film. The score is original, vibrant, interesting, and memorable- much like the film itself.
"Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is a film that is certainly ripe for interpretation and analysis. I am not going to attempt to provide either of those, mostly because I'm not really in a position to, and also because I found this a profoundly emotional experience, a film of such artistry that it is a film that everyone should experience without preconceived notions of quality or content and one that everyone should attempt their own analysis of. It's that special. It's that good.
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