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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • A 45-minute audio recording of Yukio Mishima speaking to the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Japan
  • A 45-minute making-of documentary, featuring crew from the film's production
  • Interview excerpts featuring Mishima discussing war and death

Patriotism


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Yukio Mishima, Domoto Masaki
Starring: Yukio Mishima
1966 | 27 Minutes | Licensor: The Sakai Agency

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $ | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #433
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 1, 2008
Review Date: June 21, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

Playwright and novelist Yukio Mishima predicted his own suicide with this ravishing short feature, his only foray into filmmaking (codirected with Domoto Masaki), yet made with the expressiveness and confidence of a true cinema artist. All prints of Patriotism (Yukoku), which depicts the seppuku (ritual suicide) of a naval officer, were destroyed after Mishima's death in 1970, though the negative was saved, and the film resurfaced thirty-five years later. New viewers will be stunned at the depth and clarity of Mishima's vision, as well as his graphic depictions of sex and death. The film is presented here with a choice of Japanese or English intertitles.

Forum members rate this film 8.1/10

 

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PICTURE

Patriotism is presented in two versions: A 27-minute version with Japanese intertitles and English subtitles, along with a 29-minute version with English intertitles. The difference in time has to do with how long the intertitles are shown, the English intertitles being displayed longer than the Japanese set.

Both versions of the film are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layered disc. Unfortunately they have been picture-boxed. While I assume different prints were used I couldn’t find a real difference in the picture quality between the two. They both present fairly strong transfers, though limited to the source material (according to one of the supplements on the disc, the film negative, the only existing version, has been in a tea chest for 35 years.)

The print in general is in pretty good shape. There are very few print flaws, a vertical line scarcely appearing being the worst offence. The image varies between being fairly sharp with decent definition to a little soft around the edges. The black levels are a little off. Blacks appear more as a dark gray and this seems to slightly throw gray levels off a bit.

But, considering the history of the film, I was actually expecting something in incredibly rough shape, so I was still quite happy with what we get.

(NOTE: The first 8 screen captures taken below come from the Japanese version. The ninth capture comes from the English version.)

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Japanese version

Screen Capture
Japanese version

Screen Capture
Japanese version

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Japanese version

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Japanese version

Screen Capture
Japanese version

Screen Capture
Japanese version

Screen Capture
Japanese version

Screen Capture
English version

AUDIO

The audio tracks on both also appear to be the same. There is no spoken dialogue in the film, but there is a score. Presented in Dolby Digital mono on both, the track is in rough shape. The music sounds distorted and a little on the harsh side, screeching when it reaches its highs. The track also has plenty of background noise including a fair share of pops and crackles. It's been through the ringer, obviously, and I doubt much could have been done.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Released along with Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Patriotism could have simply been included as a supplement on that release yet Criterion has decided to give it its own special edition with its own share of supplements and at a pretty decent price point with a MSRP of $24.95, meaning you could probably get it for $15-17 online, a deal for a Criterion release.

The first supplement is called “Two Days With Yukio Mishima”. Filmed in 2005 and running 55-minutes it gathers together the surviving members of the film’s crew. These members rewatched the film after nearly 40 years and then sat together to discuss it, the film’s producer leading the way. This was actually a somewhat disappointing feature. While it has some decent information on the making of the film (which was quickly shot in secret over a period of two days) it’s a very dry piece. They touch on how all prints of the film were destroyed by Mishima’s widow, the negative saved only because of some pleading from the producer, and how they had to wait for the widow to die before the film could be released again. The remaining four members talk about the look of the film, shooting it, and in the most interesting part, discuss the makeup and effects. Cronenberg would be proud, as pig intestines were used for the actual hara-kiri scene, apparently stinking up the place. They talk about Mishima and also touch on their reaction to his suicide. Everyone seems proud to have worked on the film, and there is some good stuff on here, but I have to admit it wasn’t the most enthralling piece.

The rest of the supplements are contained under “Mishima on Mishima”, which includes further interviews with the man, proving more fascinating. “The End of WWII” presents a four and a half minute interview with Mishima who discusses his reaction to Japan’s surrender and how it really was a turning point in his life. “Death” runs 5-minutes and is probably the best feature on here. Here Mishima talks about his idea of death, and how death in modern culture can’t be called “heroic”, and how he believes that one should die with a purpose, with honour. This was done, along with the previous interview segment, in 1966, four years before Mishima committed Seppuku. He mentions a fear of dying from Cancer (or any disease) and hopes for an “honourable” death. Knowing what we know now this segment comes off more insightful about the man than it probably did at the time, showing that what he did on November 25th, 1970 was definitely not a recent notion, but something he had been considering for a long while.

And closing the disc is a 49-minute audio recording of Mishima giving a speech to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club on April 18th, 1996. This recording is broken down into 14-chapters and the audio plays over the chapter menu. The speech by Mishima runs approximately 16-minutes and the rest of the recording is a Q&A session. The discussion sticks to discussion on the film Patriotism and the first question asks about the moral of the film. Other questions include his thoughts on Japan’s entry in World War II, thoughts on the West, Japan, and even on Seppuku and how it is that Ancient Japan adopted this method of suicide. This is an interesting bit, worth a listen if you’re interested in Mishima. It gives a good representation of his charms, and is another deep look at the man and his ideals.

And also included with this set is a 69-page booklet. In this booklet you will find an essay by Tony Rayns, discussing Mishima, the film, and its history. He makes a recommendation to read John Nathan’s “Mishima” as some things are best left to biographers and not writers of DVD liner notes. You also get an account written by Mishima on making the film, discussing his desire to direct, only getting a vague idea on how to do so from working on Afraid to Die. He writes about his experience of making the film and then its release to the film festivals. And finally you get the original short story on which Patriotism is based. This is a great inclusion and is the only example of Mishima’s writing included between the two releases.

6/10

CLOSING

And that wraps up the set. It’s a decent release for what would be considered a “budget” release, though I have to admit I’m conflicted on if I can recommend this release, at least on its own. I think if paired with Criterion’s release of Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters it makes for one hell of a pairing (and I feel they should have released these as a box set.) But on its own I feel it only serves as nothing more than a general curiosity. Still, it’s a decent edition put together by Criterion.


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