Mishima

A film by Paul Schrader.

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The film sets in on November 25, 1970, the last day in Mishima’s life. He is shown finis­hing a manu­script. Then, he puts on a uni­form he desi­gned for hims­elf and meets with four of his most loy­al fol­lo­wers from his pri­va­te army.

In flash­backs high­ligh­t­ing epi­so­des from his past life, the view­er sees Mishima’s pro­gres­si­on from a sick­ly young boy to one of Japan’s most acc­lai­med wri­ters of the post-war era (who in adult­hood trains hims­elf into the acme of mus­cu­lar disci­pli­ne, owing to a mor­bid and mili­ta­ris­tic obses­si­on with mas­cu­lini­ty and phy­si­cal cul­tu­re). His loat­hing for the mate­ria­lism of modern Japan has him turn towards an extre­mist tra­di­tio­na­lism. He sets up his own pri­va­te army and pro­c­laims the rein­sta­ting of the emperor as head of state.

The bio­gra­phi­cal sec­tions are inter­wo­ven with short dra­ma­tiz­a­ti­ons of three of Mishima’s novels: In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a stut­te­ring aspi­rant sets fire to the famous Zen Buddhist temp­le becau­se he feels infe­ri­or at the sight of its beau­ty. Kyoko’s House depicts the sado­ma­so­chistic (and ulti­mate­ly fatal) rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween a midd­le-aged woman and her young lover, who is in her finan­cial debt. In Runaway Horses, a group of young fana­tic natio­na­lists fails to over­throw the government, with its lea­der sub­se­quent­ly com­mit­ting sui­ci­de. Dramatizations, frame sto­ry, and flash­backs are seg­men­ted into the four chap­ters of the film’s tit­le, named Beauty, Art, Action, and Harmony of Pen and Sword.

The film cul­mi­na­tes in Mishima and his fol­lo­wers taking hos­ta­ge a General of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. He addres­ses the garrison’s sol­di­ers, asking them to join him in his strugg­le to rein­sta­te the Emperor as the nation’s sov­er­eign. His speech is lar­ge­ly igno­red and ridi­cu­led. Mishima then returns to the General’s office and com­mits seppuku.

(wiki­pe­dia)

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Credits:

JP/US 1985, 121 Min., Regie: Paul Schrader, mit: Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya, Hiroshi Mikami, Junya Fukuda

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