432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters & Patriotism

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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colinr0380
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#151 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:43 am

I felt that the Western/Japanese clash was consciously played up in the film in order to emphasise that discongruity rather than to play it down, adding another layer of interpretation onto the film and making into a sort of "Personal Journey Through Yukio Mishima With Paul Schrader".

It might be better to compare Mishima's political and militaristic ambitions as being in the vein of a military junta attempting to seize (or 'take' :wink: ) power for themselves!

I don't think Mishima was making art for a particular government as Reifenstahl did (it is surely a reduction but I generally don't consider Reifenstahl to have been one of the great movers and shakers of National Socialism, more a member of the group tasked with putting the best spin on the movement she was associated with, her fascination with and skill at eroticising the power of the body fitting neatly into ideas of bodily 'perfection') but was creating his own ideology, at the same time as moulding himself into its figurehead and advertising it to others, which was outside of the government of the time. It was as much a private ideology as a public one and as such didn't fit neatly into pre-existing governmental or military (or literary, or body building, or sexual) structures.

I don't think this is simply a culture specific thing either - here in Britain there still seem to be people who look back through rose-tinted glasses at the age where the "sun never set on the British Empire" and talk about regaining (or restoring) some indefinable quality of 'Britishness' that has in their opinion been lost. It might be related to a certain conservative mindset but is often a more extreme right ring position than even a conservative government generally espouses. Though a notable political example could be Thatcher's appeal for a return to Victorian values.

It is an a form of nostalgia that can inform an approach and attitude to the present in dangerous ways if a person with that philosophy is in a position to actively try to mould the current times in retrograde ways to recapture mythical past 'glories' without any consideration of the damage they are going to do to fabric of the modern society (or a consideration that such damage is 'worth it' in the long term). That could be considered to be another form of narcissism.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#152 Post by knives » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:20 am

I just finished watching Patriotism, and wow. Definitely deserving of its spine. It says so much about loyalty, love, and bravery in so little time using so little. The themes as a whole were the most exciting things for me. I was constantly thinking. oddly enough it reminded me very much of a Woody Allen, or probably more accurately Bergman, film in this respect. This went beyond my wildest expectations and I only hope Schrader was able to capture this spirit in his film.

But god does this one make me question myself. What would I do in the soldier's position, in his wife's? I don't know and am very afraid to find out. It's almost a horror story in a way. Wonder how it would work as a double feature with the Seventh Seal?

Also does anyone know the budget for this one, the special effects on the suicides were integrated very well.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#153 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:36 pm

A quick post noting that a theatrical run of Madame De Sade with Judi Dench, Frances Barber and Rosamund Pike is currently getting scathing reviews in the British press (it was also ripped to shreds on BBCs Newsnight Review show), with many of commentators blaming the wordy quality of the source material for the play's failure. Having not read this work myself I wondered if anyone here could shed some light on where it falls among Mishima's works?
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Tommaso
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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#154 Post by Tommaso » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:58 am

knives wrote:I just finished watching Patriotism, and wow. Definitely deserving of its spine. It says so much about loyalty, love, and bravery in so little time using so little.
[...]
But god does this one make me question myself. What would I do in the soldier's position, in his wife's? I don't know and am very afraid to find out.
You sound very much like the ideal viewer Mishima would have had in mind for his film at the time. However, I find it difficult to accept the film so much at face value as you seem to do. While it is obvious that the film points very much to Mishima's own concepts in his later life and with hindsight plays like a preliminary staging of his own death, one shouldn't forget that it is indeed a staging, an almost laboratory investigation of those concepts of "loyalty, love and bravery" you mention. The film doesn't offer more than one perspective on these, but his (later) literary works do. The death-wish and enthusiasm for loyalty to the Emperor of the main character of "Runaway Horses" (1969, and dealing with the same political events as "Patriotism), is constantly countered by a distancing perspective from other characters and - while not losing the quality of 'admirability' - is ultimately shown as futile. Mishima was a far too differentiated thinker not to see the many tensions and illusions of following this 'code of honour' in the way that the lieutenant in "Patriotism" or Isao in "Runaway Horses" do. That Mishima finally opted to overcome these tensions by seppuku in the way he did is not a contradiction, though. But I think he was aware that his act was futile, unlike the lieutenant in the film.

Colin, I haven't read "Madame de Sade" either, but from what I gather from the Guardian review it seems to fit very much into the general scheme of things of Mishima's late works as an investigation of the fascinating but also very problematic coming together of eros, violence and death. I don't know whether the play indeed is as wordy as the commentator describes, but I have the feeling that although Mishima was a great writer in general, the writing of dialogue was not one of his strengths. It can appear stilted and wordy even in the novels, though of course it's very hard to say something definitive if one must rely on a translatation. However, the only thing I would say about everything I read from Mishima is that he is NEVER boring, so I would assume that the play is at least worth checking out, regardless of what the critics say.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#155 Post by knives » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:29 pm

I agree it is rather single minded and from my understanding of the man he gave better things, but the thoughts of what the alternatives are don't bring much more promise (I think running away would have been better, but I'm not Mishima). The catch-22 of the situation is what really got to me. Mishima lays out his case well enough, but I do disagree with him a lot (just the thought of an Emperor as more then a figure head is silly to me). This may actually be why I liked it so much. He shows one path, but leaves the others open for the viewer to consider. Finally I wanted to make clear that I think the soldier took the wrong way out.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#156 Post by jbeall » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:06 am

As always, I love the intelligent discussion here--thanks Tommaso and knives.

Patriotism has been sitting in my kevyip pile for awhile now b/c I read Mishima's short story first and thought it was atrocious. Terribly sentimental, very pedantic, very one-sided, with archetypes rather than characters, and it made me reluctant to sit through the film even though it's only 27 mins. Now, however, I'll get to it pronto.

I can only echo Tommaso re: Runaway Horses, which is brilliant. It's been over a decade since I read The Sea of Fertility series, and excepting the final novel, they're excellent and much better fleshed-out than I found Patriotism to be.

I'll hopefully edit this post after actually watching the film.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#157 Post by knives » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:16 am

Drat! Now I'll have to read his other works. I too found the story to be a bit over the top and sentimental, but as images it swallows much easier. I'll probably start with Confessions of a Mask instead of Runaway Horses though.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#158 Post by Tommaso » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:27 am

jbeall wrote:Patriotism has been sitting in my kevyip pile for awhile now b/c I read Mishima's short story first and thought it was atrocious. Terribly sentimental, very pedantic, very one-sided, with archetypes rather than characters, and it made me reluctant to sit through the film even though it's only 27 mins. Now, however, I'll get to it pronto.
The short story, while not atrocious to me, is certainly weaker and shows an unhealthy wallowing in blood and self-indulgence. That it has a certain 'archetypal' character didn't disturb me much, as Mishima clearly wants to express a general idea or a mode of thinking/behaviour in an idealized setting. He in a way does the same in the film, but manages to get a much more 'poetical' (as opposed to 'sentimental' or 'narcisstic') tone into it. As a film, it's probably as much over the top as the story, but it's far less graphic and ultimately, in my view, far more successful in representing the ideas of honour, love and death that obsessed Mishima so much at this time.

I agree with you when you say that "The Decay of the Angel" is not quite up to the rest of the tetralogy. By all I heard, he rushed the writing of it in order to get his final 'great act' done. But the book thematically is very significant in pointing out the complete disillusion of his hopes in 'the youth' and for a renaissance of the 'old Japan' he was probably dreaming of. The difference between Isao and his 'reincarnation' Toru is more than striking and of course quite symbolical.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#159 Post by roeg » Sat Jun 27, 2009 4:08 pm

"Mishima" is one of my favourite films and I got the Criterion-dvd a few weeks ago. The only thing I can say that every dvd should be like that. Wonderful picture, beautiful design and lots of extras. When I watched the movie I just thought if only they did the same kind of biographical movies today and not the same movie again and again with different titles. Some days later I watched for example the Marilyn Monroe movie (1996) and it was shockingly unmemorable despite the presence of very good actors. The main problem is the predictibility: you can tell what happens next before the upcoming scene. "Now, he/she will be famous." Next scene: "He/she will suffer." Thirty minutes later: "He/she will die and the audience hopefully cry." When watching "Mishima" you forget all this. It's surreal, non-linear and extremely well directed: a masterpiece.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#160 Post by Minkin » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:39 pm

So, I was at the BFI the other day, ogling through their great film selection in their store. I noticed they had two Eclipse sets, Kagemusha and about 30 copies of Patriotism. Any guesses as to why the BFI is suddenly stocking up on this? It wasn't a costumer's order- since it was being sold among everything else, nor was it discounted or specially marked. I thought it all rather odd.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#162 Post by Napier » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:53 pm

I finally got around to watching this, and I just couldn't believe that I've put if off for so long. :oops: What an astonishingly beautiful film this is. I haven't been able to shake it's imagery from my brain. I probably wouldn't have watched it, but a Japanese friend from the left coast visited me and saw it in the kevyip from hell. "Hory Shit" he said! "Mishima", from "Clitelion" So we watched it, he's always wanted to see it. It literally left us speechless. Amazing film. The BBC doc is a great supplement too. But you guys probably already knew this.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#163 Post by Tommaso » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:23 pm

I thought you were speaking about "Patrotism" until I read your mentioning of the BBC doc, which is on the disc of the Schrader film. If you have "Patriotism" in mind, then I fully agree, of course. Still have somewhat mixed feelings about "A Life in Four Chapters", though it certainly is a beautiful film, too.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#164 Post by Napier » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:30 pm

I am speaking of Mishima. It's gorgeous! We would have watched Patriotism after, but it was getting late. I did loan him my copy of Patriotism to watch on the train though. It is indeed beautiful, as well. He had better mail it back to me.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#165 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:20 pm

Recently re-watched Paul Schrader's masterpiece Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and am again stunned at the brilliance of this film.

I especially liked the surreal & stream-of-consciousness aspects of the film - it was interesting that it basically skipped around between the present (which in this case was November 1970), to flashbacks from the past (b&w), to the stories that were taken from Mishima's work.

One of the many elements that really stood out for me was the story involving the son making the deal with that older woman so that his mother's debts could be paid off. The color in these segments was amazing - very bright & in many cases neon-like red, orange, pink, green, etc. - these were a great example of how truly amazing a regular DVD can look.

And, obviously, the score by Philip Glass was sublime - incredible.

I also got the impression that though Mishima was a very well-respected author & playwright with a large following, he still felt alienated from others much of his life. This may have been why Schrader decided to make the film, since many of the films he either wrote and/or directed focus on characters alienated from others, i.e. Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Julien in American Gigolo, etc.


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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#167 Post by Mungo » Sat Oct 01, 2016 11:33 pm

I thought there simply was no blu-ray of this film, but apparently, there's a Region B Spanish blu-ray available on Amazon. It apparently only has the Schrader VO track and does not have English subtitles.

Does anyone own this release, and is the blu-ray actually in 1080P? Blu-ray.com says it is, but I have no idea if that's accurate. I'm having a hard time finding information on this release, which is odd, since it's apparently the only high-definition version of this movie that's actually purchasable.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#168 Post by manicsounds » Tue Oct 04, 2016 12:01 pm

DVDCompare has disc specs.
It has the Scheider voice over, Schrader commentary, a 1080p transfer but in MPEG2 and with Dolby Digital audio only.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#169 Post by TwoTecs » Thu May 25, 2017 8:41 pm

Paul Schrader on the topic of a Mishima Blu-Ray:

Image

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#170 Post by Ribs » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:26 pm

Upgrade in May!!!

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#171 Post by Big Ben » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:30 pm

Getting this on Blu-Ray has been a joke for so long. I'm really excited to see this for the first time.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#172 Post by willoneill » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:37 pm

Cracked and bought the DVD in the Barnes and Noble sale. You’re all welcome.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#173 Post by danieltiger » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:40 pm

Given what Criterion did previously with Grey Gardens, I'm a bit surprised to see that Patriotism isn't an extra on this release.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Patriotism

#174 Post by DeprongMori » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:58 pm

Yes, Patriotism really is a major missed opportunity. With any luck, they'll remedy that in a later update to the "extras", like they did with Filming Othello.

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Re: 432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters & Patriotism

#175 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:27 pm

wow! :shock: great news! what a wonderful movie... that's been a long time that I hope for a blu-ray upgrade...
I sincerely hope that "Cat People" will get a decent treatment because the Blu-Ray (French or the US looks waxy)- Criterion or this great UK label which released "Hardcore" would be great... "Cat People" and " The Comfort of Strangers" are one of his best from this era with "Mishima" (" The Comfort of Strangers" is one of the best movie using Venezia labyrinth/artchitecture along with N.Roeg " Don't Look Now" and "Mort à Venise")

do you think that they will release it in digipack [-o< ? after all they did it for Vampyr (but fortunately not for la double vie de Véronique or Two-Lane Blacktop. This was really a gorgeous digipack. I still have it on DVD...

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