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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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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 27 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0016AKSOG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,823 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

MISHIMA:A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTER

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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
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
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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Format: DVD
While in college I accidentally discovered this film as it was part of a double feature in a New York City theater. Although it was a very late showing, and my lady companion had fallen asleep in her seat, I could not leave because this film had quickly captured my facination. At films end, I was overwhelmed by this masterpiece of sheer beauty and artful execution. Few films have ever impressed me as much as this one. I have anxiously awaited the release of this film on DVD for years! Especially with respect to the profound Phillip Glass score. With eager enthusiasm I began to watch the DVD adaptation of this film. Strangely, I first thought there was something wrong with my DVD player, because the narration voice sounded distored. Shortly thereafter my heart sunk when I realized the original narration by Roy Scheider had been replaced by another voice, which, in my opinion, does not do this film justice. The DVD version does add the benefit of directors commentary, but I suggest that the VHS version, which carries the original narration, is preferred. Mr. Schrader, how could you let this happen to such a work of Art! Please tell me ... Why?
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