Author Yukio Mishima's fascination with ritual suicide is at the heart of Patriotism
, a 1966 short film co-directed by and co-starring Mishima, and based on one of his many short stories. Self-consciously arty and occasionally laughable, the film nevertheless is sensual, emotionally intense, and well-acted. Mishima stars as Lt. Takeyama, a naval officer who supports an attempted coup of his government, but who is barred by fellow officers--his friends--from participation in it because of his love for Reiko (Yoshiko Tsuruoka). When the coup fails, Takeyama is given the task of executing the rebels. Caught between conflicting points of honor, Takeyama opts for seppuku
(suicide), which will make Reiko a lonely widow. The couple decides to commit double suicide, with Takeyama going first. Most of the movie finds the two making love with a unique passion and deep bond that will last beyond death. The black-and-white film blankets the lovers in protective shadows while underscoring their passion and desire through the simplest, most economic gestures. Patriotism
's eroticism extends, as Mishima would have it, to seppuku
itself. Not that Takeyama's self-disembowelment is a pleasure to watch--in fact, it's horrifying and looks rather realistic. Yet it is another act of the flesh shared between Takeyama and Reiko, a bridge to some place where love and doom meet. This Criterion Collection disc also features a filmed interview with Mishima, as well as an audio recording of a talk he gave. --Tom Keogh
Playwright and novelist Yukio Mishima predicted his own suicide with this ravishing short feature, his only foray into filmmaking yet directed with the expressiveness and confidence of a true cinema artist. All prints of Patriotism (Yukoku), which depicts the seppuku (ritual suicide) of a naval officer, were destroyed after Mishima's death in 1970, though the negative was saved, and the film resurfaced thirty-five years later. New viewers will be stunned at the depth and clarity of Mishima's vision, as well as his graphic depictions of sex and death. The film is presented here with a choice of Japanese or English intertitles.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the Japanese and English versions, with optional Japanese or English intertitles A 45-minute audio interview with Yukio Mishima speaking to the Foreign Correspondents' Association A 45-minute making-of documentary, featuring crew from the film's production Interview excerpts featuring Mishima discussing war and death New and improved English subtitle translation PLUS: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns, Mishima's original novella, and Mishima's extensive notes on the film's production