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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) More at IMDbPro »

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters -- Taking place on acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima's last day, when he famously committed public seppuku, Paul Schrader's film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer's life as well as by gloriously stylized evocations of his fictional works.


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7.9/10   4,934 votes »
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Paul Schrader (written by) &
Leonard Schrader (written by)
View company contact information for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 September 1985 (USA) See more »
On November 25, 1970, Japan's greatest author Yukio Mishima commited an act that shocked the literary world...
A fictionalized account in four segments of the life of Japan's celebrated twentieth-century author Yukio Mishima... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Brilliant, Magnificent -- But Not Flawless See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Ken Ogata ... Yukio Mishima (segment "November 25, 1970") / Narrator
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")
Naomi Oki ... First Girl (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion")
Miki Takakura ... Second Girl (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion")
Imari Tsujikoichi Sato ... Madame (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion") (as Imari Tsuji)
Kôichi Satô ... Kashiwagi (segment "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion")
Kenji Sawada ... Osamu (segment "Kyoko's House")
Reisen Ri ... Kiyomi (segment "Kyoko's House")
Setsuko Karasuma ... Mitsuko (segment "Kyoko's House")
Tadanori Yokoo ... Natsuo (segment "Kyoko's House")
Yasuaki Kurata ... Takei (segment "Kyoko's House")
Mitsuru Hirata ... Thug (segment "Kyoko's House")
Toshiyuki Nagashima ... Isao (segment "Runaway Horses")
Hiroshi Katsuno ... Lieutenant Hori (segment "Runaway Horses")
Naoya Makoto ... Kendo Instructor (segment "Runaway Horses")
Hiroki Ida ... Izutsu (segment "Runaway Horses")
Jun Negami ... Kurahara (segment "Runaway Horses")
Ryô Ikebe ... Interrogator (segment "Runaway Horses")
Toshio Hosokawa ... 'Rokumeikan' Producer
Hideo Fukuhara ... Military Doctor
Yosuke Mizuno ... 'Yukoku' Producer
Eimei Esumi ... Ichigaya Aide-de-Camp
Minoru Hodaka ... Ichigaya Colonel
Shôichirô Sakata ... Isao's Classmate

Alan Poul ... American Reporter (as Alan Mark Poul)
Ren Ebata ... Reporter #1
Yasuhiro Arai ... Reporter #2
Fumio Mizushima ... Reporter #3
Shinji Miura ... Pavilion Acolyte
Yuichi Sato ... Student
Sachiko Akagi ... Thug's Girl Friend
Tsutomu Harada ... Romeo
Mami Okamoto ... Juliet
Atsushi Takayama ... Interrogation Policeman
Kimiko Ito ... Grandmother's Nurse
Kojiro Oka ... First MP
Tatsuya Hiragaki ... Actor #1
Shinichi Nosaka ... Policeman
Sachiko Hidari ... Osamu's Mother

Roy Scheider ... Narrator (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Chishû Ryû ... A monk (uncredited)

Directed by
Paul Schrader 
Writing credits
Paul Schrader (written by) &
Leonard Schrader (written by)

Yukio Mishima (novels: "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion", "Kyoko's House" and "Runaway Horses) uncredited

Produced by
Francis Ford Coppola .... executive producer (as Francis Coppola)
George Lucas .... executive producer
Tom Luddy .... producer
Yosuke Mizuno .... line producer
Alan Poul .... associate producer (as Alan Mark Poul)
Chieko Schrader .... associate producer
Leonard Schrader .... associate producer
Mataichirô Yamamoto .... producer (as Mata Yamamoto)
Original Music by
Philip Glass 
Cinematography by
John Bailey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Michael Chandler 
Tomoyo Oshima 
Casting by
Nobuaki Murooka 
Production Design by
Eiko Ishioka 
Art Direction by
Kazuo Takenaka (executive art director)
Set Decoration by
Kyoji Sasaki 
Costume Design by
Etsuko Yagyu 
Eiko Ishioka (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Noriyo Ida .... makeup artist
Yasuhiro Kawaguchi .... makeup artist
Masayuki Okubi .... makeup artist
Junji Ota .... hair stylist: Ken Ogata
Production Management
Whitney Green .... production manager: U.S.
Atsushi Takayama .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Takayoshi Bunai .... second assistant director
Yasuo Matsumoto .... second assistant director
Koichi Nakajima .... first assistant director
Hisashi Tôma .... second assistant director (as Hisashi Toma)
Art Department
Masato Endo .... prop assistant
Yuji Fukuzawa .... assistant property master
Yoshikazu Furuya .... prop assistant
Kyôko Heya .... art department (as Kyoko Heya)
Toshihiko Higashimukai .... prop assistant
Yoshiyuki Ishida .... art department
Yasue Ito .... art department
Kazumi Koike .... prop assistant
Kyoko Machida .... assistant property master
Yoichi Minagawa .... property master
Akira Mizuno .... set artist
Norio Morisaki .... prop assistant
Sharon Nakazato .... calligrapher: titles
Kunio Okimura .... assistant set decorator
Yasushi Ono .... art department
Shunichiro Shoda .... art department
Kazuo Suzuki .... construction coordinator
Shoichiro Takenoshita .... assistant to production designer
Sound Department
Tom Bellfort .... sound editor
Gary Clayton .... sound effects editor
Lizi Gelber .... assistant sound editor (as Lizabeth Gelber)
Soichi Inoue .... boom operator
Tom Johnson .... sound re-recording mixer
Masashi Kikuchi .... boom operator
Jerry Ross .... sound editor
Leslie Shatz .... sound designer
Leslie Shatz .... sound re-recording mixer
Jenny Stein .... assistant sound editor (as Jennifer Hodgson Stein)
Giorgio Venturoli .... sound editor
Shôtarô Yoshida .... sound recordist (as Shotaro Yoshida)
Jeff Kliment .... sound editor (uncredited)
Martin Maryska .... assistant sound editor (uncredited)
Greg Smith .... machine room operator (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Catherine Craig .... effects camera operator (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
James Finnerty .... key grip (as Jim Finnerty)
Yoshinori Ishizuki .... still photographer
Munetoshi Kamata .... grip assistant
Tsutomu Kamata .... lighting assistant
Toyomichi Kurita .... camera operator
Kitaro Miyazawa .... still photographer
Takamasa Nakamura .... lighting assistant
Kazuhiro Nozaki .... camera assistant
George R. Schrader .... dolly grip (as George Schrader)
Kazuo Shimomura .... gaffer
Chuuji Sueyoshi .... lighting assistant (as Chuji Sueyoshi)
Kazuo Takano .... lighting assistant
Yuichi Tamura .... camera assistant
Kazuhiko Tateishi .... lighting assistant
Masanobu Tomura .... lighting assistant
Katsuji Watanabe .... lighting assistant
Yuji Watanabe .... lighting assistant
Kagari Yasuda .... grip assistant
Animation Department
Bruce Walters .... animator: title
Casting Department
Kei Sugiura .... assistant casting director
Yoshiro Yamaguchi .... assistant casting director
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Katsumi Harada .... wardrobe assistant
Toshiaki Manki .... wardrobe assistant
Editorial Department
Rick Finney .... apprentice editor
Kathleen Korth .... first assistant editor
Tome Minami .... negative cutter: Japan
Wataru Takahashi .... assistant editor
Jenny Weyman-Cockle .... first assistant editor (as Jennifer Weyman-Cockle)
Music Department
Dan Dryden .... music recording engineer
Philip Glass .... music arranger
Kurt Munkacsi .... music producer
Michael Riesman .... conductor
Elliot Rosoff .... concertmaster
Elliot Rosoff .... musician: solo violin
Earl Shendell .... music personnel manager
Other crew
Jean A. Autrey .... production accountant (as Jean Autrey)
Francis Ford Coppola .... presenter
Susumu Ejima .... location coordinator
Mitsuo Endo .... bodybuilding instructor
Kaname Hayase .... production accountant
Akiko Hitomi .... executive production assistant
Akiko Hitomi .... script researcher
Kenichi Horii .... production assistant
Keiko Kawaguchi .... assistant: Mr. Schrader, Japan
Fusako Kawasaki .... unit publicist
George Lucas .... presenter
Chiyo Miyakoshi .... script supervisor
Kazuko Nishikawa .... production accountant
Linda Reisman .... assistant: Mr. Schrader, U.S.
Keiko Sakurai .... production assistant
Kuniko Sato .... production accountant
Chieko Schrader .... script: Japanese
Takao Shibaki .... production assistant
Jun Shiragi .... scenario conceived in collaboration with
Makito Sugiyama .... aide: Mr. Schrader
Hiroki Tomohara .... production coordinator
Hiroko Uchida .... production accountant
Kappei Uehara .... consultant: historical art
Kanzô Uni .... action director (as Kanzo Uni)
Christopher Werner .... title designer
Sidney Ganis .... special thanks
George Hayum .... special thanks
John Peters .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Mishima" - USA (short title)
See more »
121 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Paul Schrader considers this film the best he has ever directed.See more »
Factual errors: 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 »
Osamu:They don't even know that art is a shadow... that stage blood is not enough.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Hollywood Mavericks (1990)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
18 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Brilliant, Magnificent -- But Not Flawless, 24 June 2004
Author: Dan1863Sickles from Troy, NY

Someone else put his finger on where this magnificent film falls short when he said, "Mishima has already said it all, the film simply repeats." Ultimately, Schrader has made a movie which refuses to comment on Mishima one way or another, and which becomes somewhat lifeless and stilted in the final segment as a result. Because he is bending over backwards not to criticize Mishima, Schrader simply refuses to examine the uglier implications of his public suicide.

Ironically, this approach hurts the film precisely because Mishima himself was capable of much more perceptive self-criticism. In the first two chapters -- "Beauty" (THE GOLDEN PAVILION) and "Art" (KYOKO'S HOUSE) Schrader's work is nothing short of brilliant. With great subtlety, he interweaves black and white scenes from Mishima's early life with lush full-color scenes from his early novels. What makes these sections so haunting are the subtle, suggestive differences between Mishima and the people he is writing about. For example, Mizoguchi, the acolyte who destroys the Golden Temple, is not a homosexual, nor is he a talented writer. His stammering could be a metaphor for those things, or it could be a metaphor for nothing at all. The mystery of creation and imagination, wordless and inexpressible, really seems to come to life here -- particularly in the dissolve where the schoolboy Mishima "morphs" into the slightly older Mizoguchi.

The problems start in the third chapter, "Action." Here Schrader films scenes from Mishima's RUNAWAY HORSES (one of my personal favorites) as if they are not just similar, but absolutely interchangeable with Mishima's militarist activities with the Shield Society. Schrader seems to assume that the hero of the novel, Isao, is simply a stand in for Mishima. How can you tell? Because Schrader cuts out precisely those sections of the novel in which Mishima actually analyzes Isao's emotions and his illusions. The Isao of this movie is merely a straw man who spouts platitudes about the emperor and Japan's greatness. The Isao of the book is a courageous, unselfish, but very human teenage boy, whose callous and narrow-minded parents are unable to love and who plainly have had a crushing effect on his psyche. Mishima, whether consciously or not, included some truly vile scenes of parental cruelty and manipulation in this book precisely because he understood on some level that Isao's decision to end his own life was not entirely unselfish. The connection between the sordid ugliness of Isao's loveless home and his desire to die a violent death is clear enough in the book. But it is absent from the movie. Oddly enough, Schrader thinks he is protecting Mishima in the last section, by not moralizing about the suicide, but he is actually diminishing him as an author.

The RUNAWAY HORSES section is by far the weakest of the movie. The final scenes, in which Mishima at the moment of death attains "oneness" with his heroes, really are quite exhilarating. But they would have been still richer if Schrader had taken a more nuanced approach to RUNAWAY HORSES, instead of just viewing it as a "blueprint" for the last events in Mishima's life.

This is unquestionably a brilliant, inspiring film, but it's not quite flawless.

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