Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Photos

Movie Info

The fragments of an autobiography by the self-destructive Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima.

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Cast

Ken Ogata
as Yukio Mishima
Junya Fukuda
as Cadet #2
Junkichi Orimoto
as General Mashita
Minoru Hodaka
as Ichigaya Colonel
Gô Rijû
as Mishima age 18-19
Masato Aizawa
as Mishima, Age 9-14
Yuki Nagahara
as Mishima Age 5
Kyuzo Kobayashi
as Literary Friend
Yuki Kitazume
as Dancing friend
Haruko Kato
as Grandmother
Yosuke Mizuno
as "Yukoku" Producer
Alan Mark Poul
as American Reporter
Ren Ebata
as Reporter No. 1
Yasuhiro Arai
as Reporter No. 2
Fumio Mizushima
as Reporter No. 3
Yuichi Saito
as Student
Yasosuke Bando
as Mizoguchi
Naomi Oki
as 1st Girl [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Miki Takakura
as 2nd Girl [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Koichi Sato
as Kashiwagi [Temple Of The Golden Pavilion]
Shinji Miura
as Pavilion Acolyte
Reisen Lee
as Kiyomi
Setsuko Karasuma
as Mitsuko [Kyoko's House]
Yasuaki Kurata
as Takei [Kyoko's House]
Mitsuru Hirata
as Thug [Kyoko's House]
Eimei Ezumi
as Ichigaya Aide-de-Camp
Sachiko Akagi
as Thug's Girl Friend [Kyoko's House]
Sachiko Hidari
as Osamu's Mother [Kyoko's House]
Tsutomu Harada
as Romeo [Kyoko's House]
Mami Okamoto
as Juliet [Kyoko's House]
Toshio Hosokawa
as "Rokumeikan" Producer
Hiroshi Katsuno
as Lieutenant Hori
Hiroki Ida
as Izutsu [Runaway Horses]
Jun Negami
as Kurahara
Ryô Ikebe
as Interrogator [Runaway Horses]
Naoya Makoto
as Kendo Instructor [Runaway Horses]
Kojiro Oka
as 1st MP [Runaway Horses]
Tatsuya Hiragaki
as Actor [Runaway Horses]
Shinichi Nosaka
as Policeman [Runaway Horses]
Atsushi Takayama
as Interrogation Policeman
Roy Scheider
as Voice-over
Kazuo Kato
as Grandmother
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Critic Reviews for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (4)

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

July 10, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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

December 16, 2008 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 4/6
Top Critic

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

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

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

July 10, 2009 | Rating: 4/5

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

July 10, 2009 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Mishima is one of the oddest yet most compelling biopic films I have ever seen. The movie unfolds as a series of parts, as the title clearly states. Each part has a very different visual style and form. The story of this man's life is told, at first, through a series of his dramatic works. In contrast, the last part tells the story of Mishima's final days in a more grounded setting. Despite the heavy use of abstract sets and larger than life colors, the film feels grounded and accessible. The film is beautiful. Every part is done with a rich color scheme and a fine eye for details that perfectly set the mood of each story. There is a nearly seamless blend between each fictional character and Mishima, creating a sort of continuous narrative explaining one man. I've never seen a more creative and compelling way to tell the story of a person through their work. The first three parts are all highly abstract and surreal, but they reveal the character of the film's subject in the most direct and relatable way possible. You truly feel by the end of this film that you know Mishima's thoughts, feelings and emotional drive in the richest way a film could convey. You leave this biopic not really having any idea where he lived generally, what he ate or who he really interacted with in his life. In the end, however, you leave knowing the man more intimately than any amount of biographical facts would ever reveal. This is the story of a complex man who grappled with his identity through his art and stories. It is only fitting his own work would ultimately explain the man. Outside of its technical mastery, which ages extremely well when I watched this film decades later in 2017, there is a rich brilliant story. I think this film exemplifies a cardinal rule in film making, never tell the audience what they already know. There is compelling and well-handled look at complex themes like sexual identity, artistic struggles and an immediate need to find meaning in everyday life. You can see, through Mishima's art, all of these wonderfully complex struggles in the fewest words and pictures possible. I think that compact simplicity is why this film is so excellent. There is a seamless blend between fictional characters and their creator. I could not really tell you what characters where in each part, I am pretty sure they're all just extensions of the same man. We are not defined by one struggle, but a handful of impactful intense moments . A truly excellent film that works on many levels.

Shane Sackman
Shane Sackman

Super Reviewer

½

Mishima is difficult to characterize. It is something of a biographical essay about purity, beauty, art, idealism, action, and death. The exploration of themes and the direction of the film give a very 60s feeling to it. Mishima is interesting and I may have rated it higher except for the fact that it is also confusing and I found it difficult to tell who was Mishima versus a character from his fiction since it jumped around in time and I was totally unfamiliar with his biography. As someone who dislikes spoilers, I'd nonetheless recommend that others go ahead and read his biography before watching (and I do recommend the film).

Robert Brogan
Robert Brogan

Super Reviewer

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
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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