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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

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1985 / 121min / DCP

DIRECTOR: PAUL SCHRADER

CAST: KEN OGATA, MASAYUKI SHIONOYA, HIROSHI MIKAMI

Self-destruction and the (particularly masculine) death drive have been constants in Schrader’s filmography, so it’s only natural that he would be attracted to the story of Yukio Mishima, the renegade/ultra-traditionalist Japanese artist who lived his life as an artwork, with his seppuku his final masterstroke. Starring a masterful Ken Ogata as Mishima, with Philip Glass’s stirring score accompanying sumptuously stylized visualizations from Mishima’s body of work.

Schrader’s versions of Mishima’s fictions are wonderfully stagey, especially juxtaposed with the more naturalistic character of Mishima and the increasing tension as he drives toward his end. In figuring out how to translate fiction to film, Schrader amps up the foreignness of Mishima's work with highly-stylized tableaus, bringing attention to the nature of fiction itself. Masculinity, cruelty, femininity. Just a tremendous mindfuck about what artifice and reality mean.
—Emma Cline