Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Watch Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

"On November 25, 1970, Japan's greatest author Yukio Mishima committed an act that shocked the literary world..."
  • R
  • 1985
  • 2 hr
  • 7.9  (12,875)
  • 81

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a biographical drama film from 1985 directed by Paul Schrader, starring Ken Ogata in the lead role of the famous Japanese author Yukio Mishima. The film covers the life of Mishima, focusing on the last day of his life, where he and four of his followers held a hostage situation at a military base in Japan, culminating in his public suicide by seppuku.

The story of the film is told through four chapters, each presenting different aspects of Mishima's life: "Beauty," "Art," "Action," and "Harmony of Pen and Sword". The first chapter, "Beauty," presents Mishima as a young boy, showing his interest in the beauty of the male body and his childhood experiences that would shape his later works. The chapter also covers his early relationships, showcasing his marriage to his wife Yoko and his homosexual relationships with other men. The second chapter, "Art," focuses on Mishima's rise to fame as an author and playwright, presenting several of his works, including The Sound of Waves and Confessions of a Mask.

The third chapter, "Action," showcases Mishima's political beliefs and his involvement in the far-right wing movement in Japan. This chapter chronicles Mishima's increasing fascination with death and his belief in the importance of dying for something greater than oneself. The chapter culminates in the dramatic hostage situation at the military base and ends with Mishima's suicide by seppuku.

The final chapter, "Harmony of Pen and Sword," takes place during Mishima's suicide and covers his reflections on his life and the themes of his works. Throughout the film, there are also flashback scenes of Mishima's life, including his childhood, his relationships with family and friends, and his experiences in the military.

The film is notable for its non-linear storytelling and use of flashbacks and dream sequences, which Schrader uses to convey Mishima's creative mind and the symbolism in his works. The film's use of color is also striking, with each chapter having a distinct color palette, reflecting the mood and themes of that chapter.

The acting in the film is exceptional, with Ken Ogata giving a powerful and nuanced performance as Mishima, capturing his intensity and contradictions. Masayuki Shionoya, who portrays Mishima's lover, plays his role with a subtle and restrained performance, embodying the complicated dynamic between the two men.

Overall, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a visually stunning and emotionally powerful film that provides a fascinating insight into the life of Yukio Mishima. The film presents the complexities and contradictions of a man who was both a literary genius and a political radical, and Schrader's direction and Ken Ogata's performance combine to create a deeply moving portrait of an iconoclastic artist who lived and died on his own terms.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a 1985 drama with a runtime of 2 hours. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.9 and a MetaScore of 81.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Where to Watch Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (12,875)
  • Metascore