Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters 1985 R

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(67) IMDb 7.9/10
Available in HD

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.

Starring:
Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya
Runtime:
2 hours 2 minutes

Available in HD on supported devices.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Paul Schrader
Starring Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya
Supporting actors Hiroshi Mikami, Junya Fukuda, Shigeto Tachihara, Junkichi Orimoto, Naoko tani, G Rij, Masato Aizawa, Yuki Nagahara, Kyuzo Kobayashi, Yuuki Kitazume, Haruko Kato, Yasosuke Bando, Hisako Manda, Naomi Oki, Miki Takakura, Imari Tsujikoichi Sato, Kichi Sat, Kenji Sawada
Studio The Criterion Collection
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Yukio Mishima's life was an incredible work of art and this film captures it in a visionary, compelling, and inspiring way.
muzikid89
I have video copies of the English version and the Japanese version (Japanese narration with English subtitles), and would love to be able to buy it on DVD.
"garrasguy"
Thus Mishima himself gives us the key to understanding much of his work and life; he becomes obsessed with idealized male beauty and martyrdom.
C. B Collins Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Schrader on October 23, 2004
Format: DVD
Someone pointed out to me confusion about the change in the narration. Here's the story. I originally intended to have Mishima's narration in English outside Japan to cut down on the surfeit of subtitles. (The US version of Diary of a Country Priest has French dialogue and English narration.) I asked Roy Scheider to read a transdlation of the Ogata/Mishima narration and we mixed this into the film at Lucasfilm. The Japanese distributor was to be responsible for mixing Ken Ogata's narration into the Japanese version. However, there never was a Japanese version since the film was de facto banned in Japan. Consequently, it was never possible for non-English speaking Japanese viewers to see the film entirely in Japanese. When the DVD was issued we went back to Lucasfilm to fix this, allowing either a Japanese-speaking viewer to hear the Ogata narration or a non-Japanese-speaking viewer to hear the Scneider narration. In recording both Ogata and Scneider an equal effort was made to keep the narrative flat and matter-of-fact. Paul S.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Plotkin on March 30, 2008
Format: DVD
This was a film financed by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola,distributed by a major Hollywood studio, that but for some narration by Roy Scheider is entirely in Japanese, and is told in a fragmentary narrative style which oscillates between wildly contrasting stylistic modes; the widow of the film's subject signed away life rights to her husband's story conditioned upon the film's not dealing with his none-too-secret homosexuality, which the film proceeded to deal with, albeit obliquely, and she then fought production in Japan tooth and nail. Mishima himself, Japan's most famous post-war novelist, attempted a paramilitary coup d'etat in 1970, in which his private army took over the Ministry of Defense, and committed a highly public hari-kiri. He was and is a subject of vast controversy in Japan, a consensus society, who since his death have preferred not to be reminded he existed. Given the artiness of the film, the foreigness of it's subject matter, and the Japanese blackout/ban, it is amazing "Mishima" got made at all.

Even without the sheer strangeness of the work and improbability of its existence, this is an awesome film. "Mishima" is one of the best movies about an artist ever made. Mishima sought to make his life into a work of art, and his bid for violent political action and self-martyrdom was his terminal masterpiece.
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76 of 87 people found the following review helpful By TruthWillOut on October 20, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Most biographical films of artists (Immortal Beloved, Amadeus, etc.), even if they are well made, hardly live up to the greatness of the people they describe. This film is a notable exception, one which outdoes its subject. Mishima was an accomplished writer, one whose works deserve to be read, but no single work of his stands out as an unquestionable masterpiece of world literature. This film, on the other hand, is without doubt one of the masterpieces of world cinema.
The film is broken down into interlocking "modules": those which depict Mishima's life and those which recreate episodes from his books. The literary recreations are done in a highly stylized manner which captures (and at times, outdoes) the mystery and poetry of the original texts. The biographical segments feature a fine sense of both drama and poetry. They capture the essence of Mishima's passion in a way that even he himself was unable to do.
The score by Philip Glass is one of the finest film scores ever written, and it turns the film almost into a kind of opera. It is far superior to any of his other compositions.
I was born a few years after Mishima committed suicide, but I am friends with two people who knew him personally, both of whom have excellent taste in both film and literature: they both recommend this film highly. The film may take some factual liberties, but it represents the fundamental nature of the man with infallible accuracy.
Whether your interest is great cinema, great literature, Japan, or Mishima himself, do yourself a favor: see this film.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Toshifumi Fujiwara on January 10, 2005
Format: DVD
I'm rather confused about all these discussions about the voice over narration being "changed", and apparently, so is Paul Schrader himself.

I have not seen the film at the original release, but as for the difference between the fromer VHS editions of the film and this new DVD... the only difference about the voice over is...that Ken Ogata's narration in Japanese can now be heard, which is great. The English-narrated sound track is...the SAME.

I first saw the film in an old VHS in a university class, and THE ENGLISH VOICE OVERS WERE ALREADY THE SAME AS IT CAN BE HEARD ON TRACK ONE OF THIS DVD: "flat and matter-of-fact" as Mr.Schrader describes.

As a matter of fact, I did not recognize that it was Roy Scheider, though it was certainly his voice. This is very good for the film, since we are supposed to be listening to Mishima's inner reflection on his own life. It cannot be "acted out" loudly, since Mishima that we see in the film --especially in the main narrative line of it which is Mishima's last day ending with his suicide-- is always acting himself, rather flamboyantly. So the director Paul Schrader's choice of asking the actor not to "play" it, but making an "effort was made to keep the narrative flat and matter-of-fact" was very suitable for the mystery of the film.

Personally, I first did not like the narration being in English, then I started to feel that the very flat narration in a different language may be representing another dimention of Mishima's split personality that Schrader is exploring in the film.

But watching the film with Ken Ogata's narration was a revelation. The film definetely looks more complete with the Japanese narration.
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