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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)
Price: CDN$ 42.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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3 of 3 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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1.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Films Ruined on DVD Aug. 8 2002
Format: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. The movie, a masterpiece, featuring some of the finest music ever recorded by Phillip Glass along with beautifully stylized and award-winning cinema photography and the most provocative words that could be culled from works by Mishima was narrated perfectly by Roy Scheider. When I read Mishima's books, I had a very difficult time separating Roy Scheider's voice from that of Mishima and, in a strange way, Mishima's works were better for that voice.
In the transfer to DVD, another narrator replaced Roy Scheider's contribution and, the masterpiece virtually destroyed. To me this is a lesson in how delicate the creative elements comprising a film can be. Change one element and the entire work can be altered beyond artistic recognition.
The behind the scenes documentary "Inside Mishima" is a nice addition but the main feature is not worth seeing in this form. What were the producers of this DVD thinking? I hope they rethink this release someday so film buffs can re-discover, what may very well be, Paul Schrader's finest film to date.
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1.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Films Ruined on DVD Aug. 8 2002
Format: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 throughly. The movie Mishima--a masterpiece--features some of the finest music ever recorded by Phillip Glass (he won more than one award for this score). The beautifully stylized, award-winning cinema photography and set design heighten the most provocative phrases and ideas that could be culled from Mishima's own writing. And all of these separate elements came together with the flawless naration by Roy Scheider. When I read Mishima's books, I had a very difficult time separating Roy Scheider's voice from that of Mishima and, in a strange way, Mishima's works were better for that voice.
In the transfer to DVD, another actor replaced Roy Scheider's contribution, and the masterpiece virtually destroyed. To me this is a lesson in how delicate a film's creative elements can be. Change one part and the entire work can be altered beyond artistic recognition.
The behind the scenes documentary "Inside Mishima" is a nice addition--but the main feature is not worth seeing in this form. What were the producers of this DVD thinking? I hope they rethink this release someday so film buffs can re-discover, what may very well be, Paul Schrader's finest film to date.
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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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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 An Amazing Story, Brilliantly Told
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... Read more
Published on Dec 27 2003 by GLBT
5.0 out of 5 stars Literature meets cinema
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2003 by Steven Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars No reason to die means no reason to live. . ..
A stunning film about the great Japanese writer whose spectacular suicide at the Japanese Defense Headquarters shocked the world. Read more
Published on March 25 2003 by the wizard of uz
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
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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