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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

A fictionalized account in four chapters of the life of celebrated Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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")
Yuki 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")
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Storyline

A fictionalized account in four chapters of the life of celebrated Japanese author Yukio Mishima. Three of the segments parallel events in Mishima's life with his novels (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House, and Runaway Horses), while the fourth depicts the actual events of the 25th Nov. 1970, "The Last Day". Written by Nick Lopez <ntlopez@fas.harvard.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

20 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mishima  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,378, 15 September 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$437,547

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$518,842
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film uses different color palettes to differentiate between the chapters of the film:
  • the (1970) contemporary scenes are shot in subdued colours
  • the flashbacks are in black-and-white
  • the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion" chapter is in tones of gold and green
  • the "Kyoko's House" chapter is in tones of pink and grey
  • and the "Runaway Horses" chapter is in tones of orange and black.
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Goofs

Mishima didn't exaggerate his illness. He was declared unfit for military service because of an inexperienced Army physician's misdiagnosis. See more »

Quotes

Cadet #1: You have firearms?
Isao: We'll only use swords. Our best weapon is purity.
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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 »

Connections

Featured in Visions of Light (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Like A Boy At A Window Or A Sword In A Sheath
11 August 2008 | by See all my reviews

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.


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