Yukio Mishima, one of Japan's greatest writers and artists, made only one film, Patriotism, and our good friends at Criterion have released it in this very reasonably priced edition. The film is only 27 minutes long, and has no dialogue (though it has "written" narration). It's really a striking piece of work, and quite startling at times. It is also very gory and bloody, and can even make today's gorehounds grimace. I think the violence and blood in this film are much more effective is because they actually mean something, as opposed to many films today who seem to push the uncomfortable gore quotient with no reasoning or rhyming behind it. Yukio Mishima was an incredibly prolific, intense, brilliant, convulted, complex, and artistic individual, a man of many faces, masks, illusions, and realities, and this DVD is an absolute must for any of his fans. If you're not a Mishima fan, you should still rent/buy this disc, as you may become one. The film deals with many Mishima themes, that of patriotism, loyalty, the code of the Samurai, loyalty, modern vs. feudal Japan, etc., and the film is really quite good. It's staged on a Noh stage, which gives it a very distinct feel. If it was done in a realistic manner, it would have been immensely boring, but Mishima makes good choices by filming it in this manner.
Granted, this film is not the greatest of Mishima's artistic output (that is his Sea of Fertility tetraology), but it's still absolutely fascinating and holds up quite well today. The music in the film is a bit overdone, but as the film progresses, one adjusts and it becomes less intrusive. The DVD also includes snippets of Mishima interviews, and it's absolutely brilliant stuff. Where many "artists/writers" give interviews today and say very little, Mishima encompasses worlds in the few words he says. His talk about death, heroism, heroic deaths, politics, etc., etc. are very provocative and still valid today. He certainly wasn't shy about expressing his opinions, but as many people shout to express their opinions, Mishima's opinions are ones that mattre and really make one think on a deeper level. There is also a 45 minute documentary on the making of Patriotism, with the original crew and producer assembled. They reminisce about the making of the film (which only took 2 days to film), and how Mishima was pretty well organised for a first time director. It's a very good companion piece to the film. This is a great DVD for any Mishima fan, and for any fan of Japanese and world cinema.