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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters


Price: CDN$ 42.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya, Hiroshi Mikami, Junya Fukuda, Shigeto Tachihara
  • Directors: Paul Schrader
  • Writers: Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader, Yukio Mishima
  • Producers: Alan Poul, Chieko Schrader, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: June 17 2008
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016AKSOG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,284 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. M. Chapman on March 1 2004
Format: DVD
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Directed by Paul Schrader. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Made in 1985. Cost $4.5million to make, filmed entirely in Japanese with all Japanese actors, never released in Japan. Grossed $500,000. Beautiful film that tells three separate stories. One is a black and white re-telling of Mishima's life. Another is a color re-telling of Mishima's last day. And the third consists of three re-tellings of Mishima's novels. The novel re-tellings are shot like very elaborate stage plays in lavish colors and designed by Eiko Ishioka, who designed costumes for Dracula, The Cell, and the new Houston Rockets jersey.
Long story short, I bought this film sight unseen and I cannot stop thinking about it. The music haunts me (in a pleasant way), and the images and the ideas of Mishima have been playing in my mind. I had read two novels of Mishima's, so I was familiar with him and his work.
Here is a man, arguably the greatest postwar author Japan has had, who wrote 35 novels, over a dozen plays, several operas, a ballet, over 400 short stories and essays, directed and starred in a movie he wrote, and starred in a few more. And in 1970, at the age of 45, after creating his own army, committed suicide after a vein attempt to incite revolution in the Army. Oh, he was also a body builder.
Just like the deafness in Beethoven, it is the army building and suicide that everybody obsesses about when they study Mishima. It is true for the last decade of his life he tipped to the right in political views to the point of fervent fanaticism, but he still managed to balance his passion with his desire for beauty and existence. In the end he hoped to unify it all in one swift moment that is death.
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Format: DVD
A beautifully filmed true story of a writer caught in a sword vs pen dilemma, and his ideologically intense but doomed attempt at action.

Well acted, well written, well directed and beautifully shot.
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Format: DVD
It struck me whilst watching Mishima that the film has a very clear, but perhaps unintentional, interpretation of his behaviour in his final years. Mishima's decision to re-focus his life away from what he came to see as an artificial world of words to the real world of action and was, in fact, simply replacing one artistic activity with another. His final actions were performance art. Assesed objectively they served no genuine policital or social purpose at all. A film worth watching for anybody interested in Mishima's work or Japanese culture.
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Format: DVD
Reading the reviews of "Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters" on this site got me interested enough to finally rent the movie, despite its goofy-looking cover and a general sense that it might prove to be dull.
As it turns out, this is one of the most powerful films I've ever seen.
Mishima was a famous Japanese writer who tried to live his beliefs. In the end, he became a character from his own novels, merging art with life.
The film is told by inter-cutting scenes from his life (filmed in black and white, like an old Japanese film), scenes from three of his novels (brightly colored, very theatrically performed) and the final day of his life. The transitions from scene to scene are thematically and cinematically chosen, so that you see how the events of his life were reflected in his stories, and how the ideas in his stories later found expression in his life.
The only movie I can compare this to is Fellini's 8 1/2, although it's quite different from that, of course. But both films are about the thin line separating one's art from one's actual life and both films utilize thematic transitions from the past, fantasy, and "reality."
When you're done watching this movie, be sure to watch it a second time with the director's commentary. His stories about the making of the film and why it was never shown in Japan are fascinating. In the end, as he says, it was a film financed by nobody, made to be seen by nobody.
Damn good flick!
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Format: DVD
With its multiple timeframes, minimalist aesthetic, and intercut dramatized extracts from Mishima's novels, on paper this film sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. But in the hands of Paul Schrader, this ambitious fusion of literature and cinema is nothing less than a joy. Few films cover so much ground, philosophically or biographically, let alone with such economy and flair. Paul and Leonard Schrader's screenplay is perfect, Ken Ogata is masterful as Mishima, and Philip Glass's now-classic score lends everything a powerfully tragic tone. Ironically, in the end this most complex of projects plays like a very simple story, and succeeds in not only in making us feel for Mishima but also has us understanding the personal and ideological forces which drove him. In a bio-pic, you can't ask for more than that. (NOTE: Roy Scheider's narration has been replaced in the DVD edition, so fans of the VHS be warned.)
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Format: DVD
A stunning film about the great Japanese writer whose spectacular suicide at the Japanese Defense Headquarters shocked the world.
If you haven't read Mishima's novels, I suggest that to get to the heart of the man you read his " The Way of the Samurai: Yukio Mishima on Hagakure in Modern Life " it's a working through of the ancient samurai classic, which poses the question of how to live like one--in a modern Japan inhabited by businessman and golfers.
The answer, though not fully admitted by Mishima, is that there's no way in hell.
Nor is there much hope for artists, romantics, knights or anyone else who follows the dictates of his soul on this planet. Go to college, have kids and be grateful if Sony hires you.
Even though Mishima is not explicit the reader will see this is a suicide waiting to happen. "Why live on and be despised as a bungler or a fool?" (Hagakure)
What this film captures brilliantly in its theme is the essence of a man who suffers through the knowledge that not only has his youth has gone and with it, the hope for better days, but more importantly, the realization that his life has been ultimately irrelevent.
Why?
Because, quite simply, it is a mistake to survive the death of one's country. . .
Predictably, as with Mishima's writings, this film has garnered tons of awards but has not proven a tremendous draw among the golfers and businessmen.
They need to dismiss him as a crank: A repressed bisexual with an over inflated view of masculinity, a political radical, a crazy artist, someone in dire need of medication.
In short, anything but a mirror to the world we live in.
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