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Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters

Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 20
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 1

Paul Schrader's directorial masterpiece is a classy and imaginative portrait enriched by a stunning score and impressive cinematography.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0

Paul Schrader's directorial masterpiece is a classy and imaginative portrait enriched by a stunning score and impressive cinematography.

audience

91

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 2,918

My Rating

Movie Info

In Paul Schrader's unusual biopic, Ken Ogata stars as Yukio Mishima, perhaps the most celebrated Japanese novelist of the last five decades. The film begins with Mishima's youth, then moves forward in episodic fashion to his 1970 suicide, symbolically committed at a military site. Originally titled Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, the film is neatly divided into a quartet of acts, and the screenplay does not flinch in its depiction of Mishima's hyperactive sex life. Among the many neat

Aug 7, 2001

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (1) | DVD (8)

Graced with a throbbing orchestral score from Philip Glass and John Bailey's luminous photography, this is appropriately monumental filmmaking.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's Mishima's diagrammatic structure that most perfectly suits its subject, defined by his will to harmony.

December 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's fetishistic, lyrical, narcissistic and, at key moments, borderline berserk. In other words, the movie captures its subject to a tee.

December 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most unconventional biopic I've ever seen, and one of the best.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Paul Schrader's 1985 biopic necessarily guts his controversial life - but the visual style is superb.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

From Philip Glass's glorious score to John Bailey's rich cinematography, Schrader's movie is never less than ravishing.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

The gorgeous, artsy 1985 biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is the best movie that Paul Schrader has yet directed.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Philip Glass's score still takes the breath away.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Those unfamiliar with Mishima's work may find the expressionistic novel sequences overly rich, but Schrader's film is a visually arresting, imaginative and intelligent overview of a difficult subject.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

The cerebral cool of Schrader's perspective sacrifices emotional connection to its subject.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

Offers a mesmerizing profile of the famous Japanese writer whose life was filled with drama.

August 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Gorgeous to look at, but so what?

February 2, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters

Mishima's life, and all it's contradictions, is perfectly captured by Schrader in a biopic done right. The film embodies all the passions and obsessions of it's subject, with Ogata's performance and a great score this one stands apart from the rest of theconventional, and empty, bios circulating on hollywood. Movies done with such ambition, and precise touch, are even more rare these days.
July 17, 2011
DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

a very ambitious biopic on the life of celebrated writer yukio mishima. the film weaves episodes from 3 of his works with events from his life in stylized segments. mishima subscribed to the ancient bushido code and sought to reconcile his art and life in a search for 'purity' he felt lacking in postwar japan. the bright elaborate setpieces are so artificial as to be a little alienating but really drive home mishima's death obsession, culminating in his very public ritual suicide. a strange tale artistically told and well played by ken ogata; beautiful score by philip glass and kronos quartet.
August 10, 2009
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Although at times theatrical and experimental with the camera, yet the composition of the frames are always clear and concise. Whether the dialogue was taken from Mishima's books, written by the Schrader brothers, or a mix of both- it was great. There was very little, if at all any, fluff in this film. It truly felt like what the title suggests "A Life in four chapters". Ken Ogata is brilliant as Mishima, as are all of the actors depicting either real life people or characters from Mishima's writing. There couldn't be a better war to film the life of such a unique, diverse, and controversial person and artist as Yukio Mishima. Paul Schrader must be given the props he truly deserves for his brilliant vision and execution. I thought writing Taxi Driver had been his greatest achievement in film, but despite Scorsese's 1976 film being my favourite, I must say that "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is Paul Schrader's greatest gift to cinema.
December 26, 2011
Gevvy Sidhu
G S

Super Reviewer

On a visual level, "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is a success because of John Bailey's able cinematography, Philip Glass's musical genius, Eiko Ishioka's innovative production design and Paul Schrader's excellence as a director. "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" is a technical triumph and about as original as films get. The narrative (which focuses on the past and final day of famed novelist Yukio Mishima as well as visual representations of his work) is engaging and is brought to life with superb directorial skill by Paul Schrader, who will always remain one of the unsung heroes of his generation.
April 29, 2013
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

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