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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Ken Ogata , Masayuki Shionoya , Paul Schrader    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Artistic and philosophical Oct. 21 2010
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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4.0 out of 5 stars A revealing film Jan. 8 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Story, Brilliantly Told Dec 27 2003
By GLBT
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Literature meets cinema Sept. 20 2003
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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5.0 out of 5 stars No reason to die means no reason to live. . .. March 25 2003
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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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful things they are my enemies
Perhaps Paul Schraeder should have kept Mishima's words in mind when he wrote and directed this disaster of an art movie.
The central concept of the movie is an abomination. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and Engaging
What a wonderful film. I initally picked it up because, as a fan of George Lucas, I own every film that Lucasfilm put out. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002 by Jon Cruz
5.0 out of 5 stars didn't see the original narration...
but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Many of the reviews given about this film (on dvd) seem to be highly disappointing. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2002 by pixelgrrl
1.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Films Ruined on DVD
I had never heard of Mishima before seeing this movie on videotape in the mid-1980's. Since that time I have read many of Mishima's books and have enjoyed some of them thoroughly. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by K. O. RN
1.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Films Ruined on DVD
I had never heard of the writer Mishima before seeing this movie on videotape in the mid-1980's. Since that time I have read many of Mishima's books and have enjoyed most of them... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by K. O. RN
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Region 1 only?
This film is a masterpiece of cinema and by far my favourite film. I have video copies of the English version and the Japanese version (Japanese narration with English subtitles),... Read more
Published on May 13 2002 by "garrasguy"
5.0 out of 5 stars a well done portrayal
While not completely factual, the film takes the watcher on a journey of Mishima's struggles, both as a person and a writer. Read more
Published on April 14 2002 by Kelly Berger
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