Moviedrome Mondays: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director/co-writer Paul Schrader’s 1985 experimental bio-pic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was September 8, 1991 (read here). I agree with everything that Cox has said here. Though a certain number of other viewers may have implied this before, for myself, as a bio-pic, the film’s biggest flaw lies in it’s sanitization of the more controversial aspects that shaped Japanese writer Yukio Mishima’s life (personal or otherwise). Nevertheless, it is a good film with a unique music score by famed minimalist composer Philip Glass, an interesting approach to narrative regarding it’s subject and it’s visually dazzling use of color – just look at that amazing colour palette on display throughout.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

11 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

  1. I hear ya Pete 🙂 To this day, my favorite film by Paul Schrader as a director is 2017’s First Reformed. Though to be honest, it first got released here in the US in 2018. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  2. Another film I haven’t seen. I should imagine it could be a difficult watch, given the subject matter, although the music and colour palette should more than compensate.

  3. Phillip Glass is one of my favorites. I can hear the sweeping orchestration in the trailer. That combined with the colors you mentioned…wow. It looks like an experience for sure. I didn’t know anything about this movie or this Japanese writer and looked him up. I agree with you–someone who was that dramatic and passionate about his beliefs, it’s too bad they evidently sanitized much of it. I heard they did much the same with Queen and Freddie Mercury’s life, I hear. But both movies sound well worth seeing.

  4. It is reported that the film had to be made that way because the Japanese allegedly did not want him to be depicted that way – I can give you a link to that information below. Bohemian Rhapsody is worth seeing alone for Rami Malek’s powerhouse performance as Freddie Mercury. I understand that the producers of Bohemian Rhapsody did not want to reduce him to his death from AIDS based on what I have read about it’s intentions. Still, it is a shame that there is no director out there today like Ken Russell or Derek Jarman to push viewers buttons – in the case of Russell, it would be not too different from his free bios of composers – The Music Lovers and Mahler to name just two. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mishima:_A_Life_in_Four_Chapters#Production

  5. Thanks for the link! It makes sense that the Japanese would want what they consider the more confusing/less *admirable* (in their opinion) aspects of Mishima’s life excluded. Many cultures are still against/confused by/in denial of any sexuality other than hetero. And I probably wouldn’t have wanted to witness a bloody, painful suicide by disemboweling oneself up close and in detail. But it’s interesting that they said, “Give us 15 years, then we’ll tell you what we think about him,” and now, many years past that, as the article said, still aren’t talking! No evolution on that front, I guess.It’ll take much more time. Same thing with Freddie Mercury. It would have been depressing to have his entire story based on/boiling down to his death from AIDS, so I think that’s a good decision. I can’t have a fully informed comment since I haven’t seen either, but my knee-jerk reaction for biopics is just make them as accurate as possible without trying to “hide” important details. But it must be a difficult balance, along with pressure from the outside, and I’m no filmmaker, so what the hell do I know?

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