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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

4.6 5
Director: Paul Schrader

Cast: Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya, Hiroshi Mikami


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In Paul Schrader's unusual biopic, Ken Ogata stars as Yukio Mishima, perhaps the most celebrated Japanese novelist of the last five decades. The film begins with Mishima's youth, then moves forward in episodic fashion to his 1970 suicide, symbolically committed at a military site. Originally titled Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, the film is neatly divided


In Paul Schrader's unusual biopic, Ken Ogata stars as Yukio Mishima, perhaps the most celebrated Japanese novelist of the last five decades. The film begins with Mishima's youth, then moves forward in episodic fashion to his 1970 suicide, symbolically committed at a military site. Originally titled Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, the film is neatly divided into a quartet of acts, and the screenplay does not flinch in its depiction of Mishima's hyperactive sex life. Among the many neat directorial touches is the decision to offer the narrative in black-and-white, while depicting scenes from Mishima's novels in vibrant color. Written off as self-indulgent by those impatient with Schrader's fragmentary technique, Mishima was produced in Japan by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, an offshoot of Coppola's involvement with Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Divided into four sections titled "Beauty," "Art," "Action" and "Harmony of Pen and Sword," Mishima is based -- in a fascinating creative choice -- not only on Mishima's life and scandalous death, but also on his work. Schrader uses three of Mishima's semi-autobiographical novels as the basis for exploring the author's obsessions and ideas. Cutting back and forth between these tales and Mishima's real-life move toward a final, desperate act meant to inspire national unity, the film comes to a startling conclusion as all four tales end in bloody self-destruction. The liberal blend of fact and fact-based fiction allows Schrader to compose hauntingly symbolic, dream-like images, set against a moody score from avant-garde composer Philip Glass, although the dividing line between literary adaptation and biographical material is made clear by the use of black and white for the film's flashbacks. The end result stands as one of Schrader's best films.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Stereo]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Disc 1 - New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the director's cut, supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey; ; Optional English and Japanese voice-over narrations, the former by Roy Scheider, the latter by Ken Ogata; ; New audio commentary featuring Schrader and Producer Alan Poul; Theatrical trailer; ; Disc 2 - New video interviews with Bailey, Producers Tom Luddy and Mataichiro Yamamoto, Composer Philip Glass, and Production Designer Eiko Ishioka; ; New Video interviews with Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie; ; New audio interview with coscreenwriter Chieko Schrader ; Video interview excerpt featuring Mishima talking about writing; The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima, a 55-minute BBC documentary; ; Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film's censorship in Japan, and photograhs of Ishioka's sets

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ken Ogata Yukio Mishima
Masayuki Shionoya Morita
Hiroshi Mikami Cadet No. 1
Yasosuke Bando Mizoguchi
Junya Fukuda Cadet No. 2
Toshiyuki Nagashima Isao [Runaway Horses]
Shigeto Tachihara Cadet No. 3
Junkichi Orimoto Gen. Mashita
Naoko Otani Mother
Go Riju Mishima, age 18-19
Masato Aizawa Mishima, Age 9-14
Yuki Nagahara Mishima, Age 5
Kyuzo Kobayashi Literary Friend
Yuki Kitazume Dancing friend
Hisako Manda Mariko
Naomi Oki 1st Girl [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Miki Takakura 2nd Girl [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Koichi Sato Kashiwagi [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Setsuko Karasuma Mitsuko [Kyoko's House]
Yasuaki Kurata Takei [Kyoko's House]
Mitsuru Hirata Thug [Kyoko's House]
Hiroshi Katsuno Lieutenant Hori
Hiroki Ida Izutsu [Runaway Horses]
Jun Negami Kurahara [Runaway Horses]
Ryo Ikebe Interrogator [Runaway Horses]
Sachiko Akagi Thug's Girl Friend [Kyoko's House]
Yasuhiro Arai Reporter No. 2
Eimei Ezumi Ichigaya Aide-de-Camp
Tsutomu Harada Romeo [Kyoko's House]
Sachiko Hidari Osamu's Mother [Kyoko's House]
Tatsuya Hiragaki Actor [Runaway Horses]
Minoru Hodaka Ichigaya Colonel
Toshio Hosokawa "Rokumeikan" Producer
Naoya Makoto Kendo Instructor [Runaway Horses]
Yosuke Mizuno "Yukoku" Producer
Fumio Mizushima Reporter No. 3
Shinichi Nosaka Policeman [Runaway Horses]
Kojiro Oka 1st MP [Runaway Horses]
Mami Okamoto Juliet [Kyoko's House]
Alan Mark Poul American Reporter
Reisen Lee Kiyomi
Ren Ebata Reporter No. 1
Yuichi Saito Student
Kenji Sawara Osamu
Roy Scheider English Narration
Shinji Miura Pavilion Acolyte
Tadanori Yokoo Natsuo
Atsushi Takayama Interrogation Policeman
Imari Tauji Madame
Kazuo Kato Grandmother
John Nathan Biographer
Donald Richie Actor

Technical Credits
Paul Schrader Director,Screenwriter
John Bailey Cinematographer
Michael Chandler Editor
Francis Ford Coppola Producer
Philip Glass Score Composer
Noriyo Ida Makeup
Eiko Ishioka Costumes/Costume Designer,Production Designer
Yashuhiro Kawaguchi Makeup
George Lucas Producer
Tom Luddy Producer
Mataichiro Producer
Masayuki Okubi Makeup
Tomoyo Oshima Editor
Kyoji Sasaki Set Decoration/Design
Chieko Schrader Screenwriter
Leonard Schrader Screenwriter
Kazuo Takenaka Art Director
Etsuko Yagyu Costumes/Costume Designer
Mata Yamamoto Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
1. Morning, November 25, 1970 [8:38]
2. Childhood [5:14]
3. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion: Beauty [4:37]
4. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion: Power [5:42]
5. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion: Destruction [2:31]
6. Aspirations [3:58]
7. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion: Fame [3:43]
8. "Our Day" [3:05]
9. Writing [2:13]
10. Kyoko's House: Osamu [5:23]
11. Masks [4:08]
12. Kyoko's House: The Decaying Body [3:37]
13. Kyoko's House: "I Exist" [6:21]
14. Photo Shoot [1:23]
15. Kyoko's House: Shadows [1:55]
16. Arrival [2:39]
17. Runaway Horses: Plan [1:56]
18. Kendo [4:46]
19. Runaway Horses: Final Command [1:21]
20. Bound by Blood [3:19]
21. Runaway Horses: Action [7:49]
22. Patriotism [5:50]
23. Shield Society [2:33]
24. Hostage [4:35]
25. The Moment [8:19]
26. Final Act [7:07]
27. Harmony [3:09]
1. Color Bars [5:14]

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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Paul Schrader's handling of Yukio Mishima and his obssesive strange tale is mesmerizing, beautiful, and horrific...all at the same time. Mishima is one of the most contradictory men you could ever pay witness to (much like Schrader's other Man-In-A-Room Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver). Preaching a return to bushido, while living in a relatively expensive Western-styled house?! Fascinating at every turn. His death by seppuku could be construed as merely a political stance, but this film presents it as a personal choice. He rehearsed it for most of his life. This DVD has only four stars because of two reasons. One, I really wanted more extras, such as the Biography program on Mishima. Or current documentaries on Mishima's legacy. More fact based material to back up the film. Two, I seriously enjoyed Paul Schrader's commentary track, but wished there was another one from cinematographer John Bailey and other technical folks. The film is absolutely stunning to look at and would like to know how they did it and what obstacles they came across. All in all, it's a great DVD, but it left me wanting more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even if you aren't into Japanese culture, this is a movie which will stay with you for the end of your days. An absolute brilliant piece of work that should be enjoyed by all. Mishima was an odd duck with a warp mind, but viewers can identify with the struggles he had as a human being. The music score adds to the images so much that I actively sought out the nearly 20 year-old CD soundtrack. That should say something. So far I've watched Mishima five times and still am looking forward to watching it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mishima is one of the great movies. What I love about it is that it intertwines both the realism of cinematic narration with the lyricism of theater. The music is beautiful and ads to the whole in order to make it a masterpiece. This movie is a must for all who love Japanese culture. It is a must for the existentialist too. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was in university in US, I had seen this movie once. Even it is not released in Japan, I was surprised that description of Mishima's life is quite accurate and touch of Japanese beauty is so sensitive. This time I have bought DVD for this. Even 8 years have been past from my first appreciation, it was still impressive. Sometimes American translation of Japanese tradition and beauty are way off from their inner philosophy and shows completely different side. But this one is not. Mishima is very famous for his rightist and ''Bushi-do (way of Samurai)'' idea and wrote many books related his idea. This movie shows the way he lived beautifully.