Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


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

Movie Info

Stylish biography of the great Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, combining elements from his fiction with his own controversial career, which ended with his suicide after his failed attempt at a right-wing coup. Score by Philip Glass. Roy Scheider narrates.

Rating: R
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Leonard Schrader, Chieko Schrader, Paul Schrader
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 7, 2001
Criterion Collection


as Yukio Mishima

as Cadet No. 1

as Cadet No. 2

as Cadet No. 3

as Gen. Mashita

as Ichigaya Colonel

as Mishima age 18-19

as Mishima, Age 9-14

as Mishima Age 5

as Literary Friend

as Dancing friend

as "Yukoku" Producer

as American Reporter

as Reporter No. 1

as Reporter No. 2

as Reporter No. 3

as Student

as Mizoguchi

as 1st Girl [Temple Of ...

as 2nd Girl [Temple Of ...

as Kashiwagi [Temple Of...

as Pavilion Acolyte

as Kiyomi

as Mitsuko [Kyoko's Hou...

as Takei [Kyoko's House...

as Thug [Kyoko's House]

as Ichigaya Aide-de-Cam...

as Thug's Girl Friend [...

as Osamu's Mother [Kyok...

as Romeo [Kyoko's House...

as Juliet [Kyoko's Hous...

as Isao [Runaway Horses...

as "Rokumeikan" Produce...

as Lieutenant Hori

as Izutsu [Runaway Hors...

as Kurahara [Runaway Ho...

as Interrogator [Runawa...

as Kendo Instructor [Ru...

as 1st MP [Runaway Hors...

as Actor [Runaway Horse...

as Policeman [Runaway H...

as Interrogation Police...

as English Narration

as Grandmother
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

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

Full Review… | July 10, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 16, 2008
Village Voice
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 10, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 10, 2009
This is London

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.

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.

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

It's a triumph for Schrader, using a unconventional narrative for exploring the life and work of such an unconventional man works wonderfully. The highly stylized retelling of Mishima's novels are a kind of avant-garde theatre and this is perfect use of a Philip Glass score.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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