It is currently Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:27 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 169 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 7  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:35 pm 
Waster of Cinema
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:03 am
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Image

Paul Schrader's visually stunning, structurally audacious collagelike portrait of acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yuko Mishima (played by Ken Ogata) investigates the inner turmoil and contradictions of a man who attempted an impossible harmony between self, art, and society. Taking place on Mishima's last day, when he famously committed public seppuku (ritual suicide), the film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer's life as well as gloriously stylized evocations of his fictional works. With its rich cinematography by John Bailey, exquisite sets and costumes by Eiko Ishioka, and unforgettable, highly influential score by Philip Glass, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a sincere tribute to its subject, and a bold, investigative work of art in its own right.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET:

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the director’s cut, supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey
- Optional English and Japanese voice-over narrations, the former by Roy Scheider, the latter by Ken Ogata
- New audio commentary featuring Schrader and producer Alan Poul
- New video interviews with Bailey, producers Tom Luddy and Mata Yamamoto, composer Philip Glass, and production designer Eiko Ishioka
- New video interviews with Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie
- New audio interview with coscreenwriter Chieko Schrader
- Video interview excerpt featuring Mishima talking about writing
- The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima, a 55-minute BBC documentary about the author
- Theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film’s censorship in Japan, and photographs of Ishioka’s sets

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



Patriotism

Image

Playwright and novelist Yukio Mishima foreshadowed his own violent suicide with this ravishing short feature, his only foray into filmmaking, yet made with the expressiveness and confidence of a true cinema artist. All prints of Patriotism (Yukoku), which depicts the seppuku of a army 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.

Disc Features

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the Japanese and English versions, with optional Japanese or English intertitles
- 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
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns, Mishima's original short story, and Mishima's extensive notes on the film's production

Criterionforum.org user rating averages


_____________________________________________________


Last edited by Gordon on Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
Gordon wrote:
I recently acquired Warner's DVD of Paul Schrader's, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, his biopic of the legendary Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima who committed seppuku in 1970 after he and members of his private army held General Kanetoshi Mashita, the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp - the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan's Self-Defense Forces with the intent of addressing the garrison - to inspire them bring about a coup d'état and restore the Emperor as the overseer of Japan, eradicate capitalism and return honour to Japanese culture, ie the old moral codes of the samurai. There is no similar precedent in Western society.

Schrader's film was an American-Japanese co-production, with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola as producers. The structure for the film is fascinating, very unique and beautifully stylized in - as the title suggests - four distinctive aspect of Mishima's life, which had a similar compartmentalization: Beauty - Art - Action - Fusion of Pen and Sword

I find it an incredibly powerful film on many levels. Ken Ogata's performance is mesmerizing - even in his narration, which was made available for the first time with the DVD release and it elevates the film considerably. However, Roy Schrader's English narration that appeared in the theatircal release is not present on the English track - it has inexplicably been replaced by an unknown actor and is inferior to Scheider's measured delivery. I prefer Ogata's narration, but I - as every other admirer of this film seems to be - am still in the dark over this alteration. Scheider doesn't strike me as a difficult man, so I am out of guesses.

Eiko Ishioka's exquisite sets and costumes are truly extraordinary. This is the film that I put forward as the prime example of the stupidity of the Academy Awards: No nominations at all, although Schrader was nominated for the Golden Palm and John Bailey (cinematographer), Eiko Ishioka (production designer/costume designer) and Philip Glass (composer) wons awards at Cannes - and rightly so. Glass' score is one of his most sublime; Bailey, working in varius daring styles, excelled himself yet again. But the film has been sorely underappreciated over the last twenty years. Schrader considers it his best film as director.

The DVD transfer is excellent, capturing the vibrant colours and the stark monochrome sequences perfectly. Schrader's commentary is highly informative and illuminating - as are all his tracks - and the on-set behind-the-scenes featurette and trailer rounds out the set. Definitely one of Warner's most overlooked releases.

Any thoughts on this film?

Yes, the Warner Brothers is a wonderful transfer and it's a compelling movie (I also really recommend Schrader's Comfort of Strangers which recently came out on Sony R4 - also a beautiful anamorphic transfer, but no extras.)

Interestingly I do not recall Scheider's VO during the theatrical run, but I'm sure you're right. Certainly Ogata's is very nice though.

A couple of points - not meant entirely critically. This was the movie at which I started to really tire of those fucking Philip Glass scores. His Mishima score I find completely intrusive. (How many arpeggios can you listen to in 100 minutes? Frankly Glass seems to be fighting for attention with the DP and Schrader's own measured pacing here.) Also fascinating was the influence of Mishima's widow in attempting to totally censor the homosexual elements of Mishima's life. Schrader obviously had to skirt very carefully here, and I wish he had ignored the old bag and gone much further, but his own ambivalence towards homosexuality (manifested in American Gigolo for instance) may have inhibited him in this case.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Mishima
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 10:46 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I share the admiration for this film, which I think is Schrader's best (and I think this is Glass's most effective score - for me the numbness started setting in shortly after!). Thanks to your report, I'll track down the DVD.

I find Schrader's output inconsistent, and a lot of his films seem to me to fall tantalisingly short of greatness, but even his worst films (such as Cat People) are interesting. When he fails, at least he doesn't fail for all the usual reasons.

I think he also, in this DVD era, deserves credit as a director who gives good commentary, at least as far as I've heard.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:25 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am
This is an interesting film and I appreciated Gordon and David's posts. Although it was never formally released in Japan (thanks to Yoko) it did raise a lot of interest in the Japanese film press at the time and there was a very informative book on its production that was published right about the time of its release. I remember running across an imported VHS of it in a video store in Tokyo many years back and renting it to see what, if anything, was missing. Only one scene -- the "mirror" scene in Kyoko's House -- had been crudely taped over for a few moments to obscure the nudity, otherwise the film was in tact. Ogata Ken mentioned in an interview at the time that many people were very upset that the film was being suppressed in Japan.

Gordon, you mentioned liking Ogata Ken in the role and I agree. Ironically, casting him was a large bone of contention. The consensus on the Japanese side (including Ogata himself initially) was that Ogata just didn't look enough like Mishima. He only got the part, if I'm not mistaken, because his acting skills were so far and above that of anyone else being considered for the role.

I think the film works well for several reasons. The biggest is that it approaches Mishima through his works rather than trying to be a straightforward biopic. Schrader wisely shot the film entirely in Japan, with a Japanese cast, in Japanese -- all of which I believe shows the regard he held for Mishima and created an atmosphere that is (thankfully) very different from something like Yakuza. That's also why I didn't like the Roy Scheider narration when I first saw the film as I felt it was out of place and cheapened the film in a general way. With Ogata's narration, this is an entirely different film. Especially the flashback scenes don't feel as contrived now (or as cooly distant).

One criticism I've heard by Japan scholars, etc. is that it doesn't feel like a Japanese film. And it doesn't. But in this case, that's not really a bad thing and might even be the best way to handle such a chamelon-like character as Mishima. Any straight biopic would have had to deal with the mass of contradictions that Mishima represented in much greater detail (i.e. his very "Western" tastes in music, architecture, wine, theatre, clothes, some literature, films, etc. versus his very studied "Japanese" sensibilities in those same areas that appear in his writings/interviews). It would also have had to deal more with Mishima's politics (including his writings on Bushido, Hagakure, Wang Yang-ming, the SDF, the Tatenokai as a neo-Fascist private army, etc.) as they were such a large part of his life and what polarized so many people's opinions of him. Not only would such a film have had a nearly incomprehensible story, it never would have found funding or gotten Yoko's permission (she initially gave it, you know) -- which was Schrader's real foot in the door. This granted him access to everything from locations to talent and even Mishima's private artifacts. And this was what really interested the Japanese press. For many Japanese, Mishima is(? was?) a taboo and it took a non-Japanese to pry open his tomb so to speak. No Japanese director could have touched upon Mishima without also dealing with the baggage of his legacy -- Mishima's links to the Japanese right, remilitarization, pro-Emperor-ism, and how he died. I was still pretty young but I remember the sense of embarassment many had about Mishima having killed himself the way he did. This was just the time when the Japanese "miracle" economy was taking off and offered hope that old stereotypes of Japan as a "feudal" or anachronistic nation would be buried. Then along comes Mishima who not only kills himself in what looked like surreal theatre, but he does this via ritual suicide. Even many Mishima supporters immediately distanced themselves from him after his death (Nakasone being one of the most famous).

Hmm...you know, I always thought that I liked Schrader's take on Mishima until I started writing this. Now I'm not so sure. I used to find the film refreshing because it looked at him through his works (and I especially find these particular 4 works an interesting set of choices). But now as I try to get a handle on Schrader's take on Mishima's politics, I'm not so satisfied.

Sorry for the conflicted post, but I wanted to respond in some way.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:27 pm 
Waster of Cinema
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:03 am
Mishima is way too complicated a figure for Cinema to fully realise in a concise, yet gripping manner. It would really take a great biographer around 500 pages to present a comprehensive portrait of the man. Paul Schrader and Leonard Schrader set out to create a unique, energised and I suppose a somewhat philosophical mosaic (or mandala?) of Mishima's fractured psyche with verve and immediacy. If they had dug deeper, they would have had to realise the script/film-in-itself in a different manner and it may not have been such an unique artistic triumph. This is often the case with exhaustive, chronological biopics.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:20 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
I think Schrader shows a real fascination with color and visual texture, don't you. Probably all his films are conflictual to a degree, if not actually conflicted. Perhaps most fascinating, because most extreme is Comfort of Strangers. Sumptuous, sensual visual style and mise-en-scene (clothes, decor, music, roving camera, and Venice itself) at odds with a Pinter screenplay so severe it's reads like a self-parody of Pinteresque style. Fascinating movie! And the greatest of all - I keep forgetting - Light Sleeper. Dafoe and Sarandon refreshing Bressonian commitment - what a couple!

Edit: Zedz I have to retract my distaste for the Glass score. The Mishima score is a model use of his music. The problem picture is Kundun in which the music completely overwhelms the already fragile, and unsatisfactory narrative and pacing of the movie.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Philip Glass
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Phew! So no pistols at dawn then. I agree that Kundun is real Glass-by-numbers, and the film itself depressingly bland. Scorsese apparently adored the music for Mishima and saw this as his opportunity to get his own Glass score. (The apotheosis of Minimalism as fashion accessory?)

On Mishima Glass just seems to be working so much harder than he does on most of his scores: the themes are strong and intelligently developed, and there's a nice variety to the arrangements / orchestrations. I think the opening theme is gold: how can you not sit up and pay attention after those two minutes of eerie mood-setting, swirling, turbulent climax and ringing, fateful leitmotif. It's a credit to Glass and Schrader that the entire film isn't one long anticlimax after that.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:41 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
Imagine us with pistols!

I was going to mention earlier the gay aspect of Mishima (film and man) and the immense difficulties Schader must have encountered even suggesting as little as he does. The S&M element is given much freer treatment in the movie. I remember well the hoo haa when Forbidden Colors was first published in English translation in the late sixties. In fact I think it may even have been banned for a time in Oz during that period of patriarchal censorship. To this day homosexuality seems to be a completely buried subject in Japanese culture. Closest we seem to get are the female impersonator Kabuki performers (who are not necessarily homosexual anyway.) Perhaps Micaehl K could enlighten us on this?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:30 pm
According to a very close gay Japanese friend, same-sexuality is much discussed in Japan since the mid-70's. There are several "out" performers and softcore gay homoerotica is very popular with Japanese women. Moreover Ozu's gayness is widely discussed today.

I can' imagine what Leonard Schrader's film about Edie Sedgewick might be like. Judging from the title her drug-fueled "accident" (in which she set herself on fire) would appear to be its focal point. When Edie was still holding herself together (roughly 1965-67) there was nobody like her. She lit up a room. It's a shame the films Warhol made with her (particularly Beauty #2) aren't distributed or available on home video. Ciao! Manhattan! shows Edie at the end of her tether -- not when she shined.

Judging from some set photos I've seen, Sienna Miller is entirely too fat to play Edie.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Yokoku (Mishima, 1966)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC
Yukoku will be released as a 2-Disc set in Japan.

Trond Trondsen wrote:
Earlier this week, the original film negatives of Yukio Mishima's Yukoku (1966) were "discovered" at the late author's residence in Ota Ward, Tokyo. Shortly after his death, it was publicly announced that all copies of the film had been destroyed at the behest of Mishima's widow Yoko. About 40 reels have now been found in what Japanese media refer to as an "airtight tea box". According to Hiroaki Fujii (78), the movie's producer (who at the time apparently urged Yoko to keep the original intact), the recovered elements are in "pristine condition" ...

This is an image from the front page of yesterday's evening edition of Mainichi Shimbun, and the fairly long article continues on page 2. The article says that Hiroyuki Fujii (78) discovered the negative reels inside a tea box, which Yoko had carried when she married Mishima, deep within the darkness of a storehouse at the Mishima mansion [Ota Ward, Tokyo] in 1996. This was after Yoko died. Preserved negatives are about thirty rolls, including Japanese, English, French and German versions. They are in good condition, free from scratches and mold. Recently, Fujii, who was the film's producer, stated that "Awful bootlegs are being widely circulated. To help people fully appreciate the film, we need to screen it in a new print. This year falls on the 80th anniversary of Mishima's birth, and we find it to be a good opportunity." The film is being made into a DVD as an Appendix to The Complete Mishima (2006) from Shinchosha, to be published next spring. As for the English negative (also recovered, according to yesterday's article) we have been told by other sources that the "calligraphic intertitles for the English version were painted by Mishima himself. One striking aspect of these intertitles are the occasional misspellings, which Mishima simply smudged out with a finger. The imperfection left an auratic mark on the textual interruptions, amplifying the powerful experience of watching the real author/director rehearsing reality." Let us therefore hope that no-one decides to "restore" these English intertitles.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Yokoku (Mishima, 1966)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:09 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:36 pm
Location: San Francisco
I saw Yukoku as part of UCLA's International Preservation series in August on a double bill with Philippe Garrel's La cicatrice intérieure. I was completely stunned by both of the films and would love to have Yukoku on DVD (La cicatrice intérieure as well!). The version UCLA played was actually a restoration of the French version and someone translated the intertitles live. The intertitles comes before each part (I believe there were 3 or 4) of the film and explain the political situation and the characters motivations. The first intertitle is fairly long and scrolls up the screen, but as the film goes on the intertitles become much shorter. Hopefully the DVD will have English subtitles if not the other language versions of the film as well. Though if the DVD doesn't have any english version and you could get a hold of a translation of the intertitles it would work almost as well to print them out and read them between each part of the film.

UCLA Program Notes wrote:
Yukoku (1966, Japan) Directed by Yukio Mishima

Leading postwar writer Yukio Mishima directed this stylized adaptation of his own novel. Mishima himself stars as a disgraced military officer duty bound to commit harakiri after a failed coup attempt. A minimalist yet profoundly romanticized depiction of ritual seppuku, the film testifies to Mishima's evident command of cinematic rhetoric at the same time that it hauntingly prefigures the method and rationale of his own suicide in 1970.

Screenwriter: Yukio Mishima. Cast: Yukio Mishima, Yoshiko Tsuruoka. with French subtitles. 35mm, (no dialog), 30 min.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Yokoku (Mishima, 1966)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:58 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2005 3:39 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I was at that UCLA screening too, and I was floored by the film. Really excellent and overwhelming.) The quality of the print seemed excellent too. I wonder who you were!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Yokoku (Mishima, 1966)
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:24 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am
The original English and Japanese versions of Yukoku are shown from time to time in the states but I've never seen the French or German versions (I envy you both). At a screening of the Japanese version at the Japan Foundation several years ago, long time Mishima friend, biographer, translator (and filmmaker) John Nathan also related the story about Mishima writing the intertitles himself.

But the intertitles aren't just expository, they are passages taken from the short novel Yukoku (published the year before the film was produced) which describe the emotional state of a young officer (Mishima) who misses his chance to die with his other officer colleagues in the failed military coup of Feb. 26, 1936.

Since the news article said that they found 30 well-preserved reels and the original film itself is only 4, I imagine that there would be enough material for a second disc.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 5:15 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
I think Mishima was first Paul Schrader directed film I ever watched, and I loved it. Great, great underappreciated movie.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:23 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:42 pm
Mishima is a masterpiece. It's the one that got me addicted to all of Schrader's films. It introduced me to the world of foreign films as well; before seeing Mishima I wasn't into Kurosawa and all that, but when I was a kid and rented the movie because I saw how cool the box looked, the rental guy recommended some other foreign stuff. A film which combines an interesting biography, beautiful visual compositions, and a couple of seppuku scenes can only be a great film...right?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: MISHIMA
PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:48 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:19 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Just some trivia -- I lived in Japan for awhile, and occasionally you'd see things that were considered "collectable" being sold for outrageous prices. One such item was an American VHS edition of MISHIMA, being sold at a collector's video store for something like $1000! (The VHS version WAS out of print at that point, but not THAT hard to find -- the people who were selling it were clearly clueless). I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this -- I only skimmed the above -- but I don't believe this film received much/any distribution in Japan, due to the controversy over his homosexuality. The Japanese I talked to about it were unaware that an American filmmaker had made a biographical film on Mishima.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:57 pm
Location: Rollin' down Highway 41
It's been so long since I've seen Mishima that I can't venture a worthy opinion on it. I didn't care for it when I saw it (my lingering perception was that it was a little too indulgent of Mishima's rather untenable worldview, something that I always find a little suspicious, even a touch patronizing, coming from westerners toward certain aspects of Asian culture...they can come off a little like Dern's character in Tattoo), but, as I said, that was long, long ago and I probably would have different impressions, now.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:38 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
You really must re-watch Mishima.

If anything, Schrader's treatment of the material is extremely effective in "unpeeling" the layers of Mishima's personality, and the formally beautiful staging of the stories is something new in Shrader's work.

I have the feeling the need to fuse the disparate elements of the movie and screenplay actually benefitted Schrader in terms of loosening up his rigidity of tone, etc. Certainly the movie displays flawless judgment in terms of music, performance and mise-en-scene.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Eiko Ishioka
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:10 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
davidhare wrote:
If anything, Schrader's treatment of the material is extremely effective in "unpeeling" the layers of Mishima's personality, and the formally beautiful staging of the stories is something new in Shrader's work.

I think the collaboration with Eiko Ishioka is crucial here. If you like the look of the film, you may even get something out of the utterly ridiculous The Cell. Ishioka's distinctive contribution can also be seen in Coppola's Dracula (and then there's that great Bjork video).

It's to Schrader's credit that the production design doesn't outclass everything else in the movie (as seems to be the common thread in the rest of Ishioka's filmography) and is smartly integrated into the overall structure of the film.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Mishima
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 6:01 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 8:16 am
Location: chapel hill, nc, usa
I just finished reading John Nathan's Mishima bio - and was wondering if that's the definitive one or if there's something better out there. Nathan - and Richie's Japan Journals give a lot of insight into the non-discussion of homosexuality, but if anyone has a recommendation for a better bio, I'm all ears.

David Ehrenstein wrote:
According to a very close gay Japanese friend, same-sexuality is much discussed in Japan since the mid-70's. There are several "out" performers and softcore gay homoerotica is very popular with Japanese women. Moreover Ozu's gayness is widely discussed today.

I'd be very shocked to discover otherwise. Any number of things like Hush! and Okoge have appeared globally, and Oshima's Gohatto is quite intriguing: I found it to be rather tepid as a film, but it presents scenarios that aren't exactly unusual, historically speaking, and in many ways is quite consistent thematically with his other work.

I would be interested in seeing a Celluloid Closet-type look into Japanese film; there's a much more academically-inclined 'Queering Bollywood' site that makes for awfully interesting reading.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 7:18 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
Can you kindly quote these and give us at least a precis of Japanese cinematic homophilia? As only a twice gone tourist, en passant to Japan I was aware of Japanese homosexuality but not of any culture, or subculture.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Mishima
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 5:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
Location: Denmark/Sweden
Quote:
I just finished John Nathan's Mishima bio - and was wondering if that's the definitive one or if there's something better out there. Nathan - and Richie's Japan Journals give a lot of insight into the non-discussion of homosexuality, but if anyone has a recommendation for a better bio, I'm all ears.

Davida, John Nathan's biography and Henry Scott Stokes "The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima" are generally considered to be the two key works by westeners on Mishima. Both were written by people, who knew Mishima personally, and, as far as I remember they complement each other nicely.

Scott Stokes' book was not quite as literary as Nathan's (if I remember correctly), but he used Mishima's concept of the "four rivers" in his life very effectively in strucuturing the latter part of his biography. Shortly before committing suicide, a big exhibition was staged in Mishima's honor. It was an exhibition to display the huge body of work that Mishima had created in his life up to that point. This body of work included the voluminous writing, the plays, acting, directing, song writing, photo modelling, interest in martial arts sports and body building, etc. On Mishima's request the exhibition was designed as four rivers representing the four currents that ran through his work, as he saw it himself. One "river" was dedicated to his writing, another to his dramatic work, a third to the physical side of his life/work, and the last to "action."

I saw Schrader's film quite a while ago, and do not remember the extent to which he incorporated this thematic structure into his film, although he clearly used the idea from an aesthetic standpoint.

Aside from Nathan and Scott Stokes, I remember reading a short, and very different appreciation of Mishima's work by Marguerite Yourcenar. The literary works of Mishima that stand out the clearest in my memory are his first book "Confession of a Mask," "The Sound of Waves," "Temple of the Golden Pavillion," the novellas "Patriotism" and "An Act of Worship," the book length essays on "Hagakure" and "Sun and Steel," and, above all, his final work, the cycle of novels called "The Sea of Fertility." However, I think Mishima is the kind of author that once you become smitten with him, you will probably want to read everything you can get your hands on. There are very clear stylistic and thematic phases in his authorship, but there is also a very strong throughline thorugh it all, and I think it helps to read his works alongside the biographies by Nathan and/or Scott Stokes. Enjoy!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 6:24 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 8:16 am
Location: chapel hill, nc, usa
Well, cinematically Okoge, Hush!, Taboo (Gohatto), Shinjuku Triad Society & Slight Fever Of A 20 Year Old are all out internationally on DVD, along with a lot of anime - series like Kizuna, Descendants Of Darkness and some others; and also some 'pink' films.

I haven't run across any translated film-specific writing, but Ihara Saikaku's Great Mirror Of Male Love is one of many books that add a bit of context a film like Oshima's Gohatto. I'd be willing to bet there's at least a little film writing, just nothing translated...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 6:05 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
Thanks for that - I always found it impossible as a gaijin to even come near gay Japan, outside of commercial junk like Roppongi.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Mishima
PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 6:36 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 8:16 am
Location: chapel hill, nc, usa
Scharphedin2 wrote:
However, I think Mishima is the kind of author that once you become smitten with him, you will probably want to read everything you can get your hands on. There are very clear stylistic and thematic phases in his authorship, but there is also a very strong throughline thorugh it all, and I think it helps to read his works alongside the biographies by Nathan and/or Scott Stokes. Enjoy!

Thanks for the recommendations - already picked up The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Confessions and Temple - I've been a fan of the Ichikawa Enjo for a while, so I'm pretty eager to start that last one especially. I've been spending lots of time lately with Nabokov - another of those 'want to read everything you can get your hands on' writers - and I actually need to shift to something else worthwhile for a bit.

davidhare wrote:
Thanks for that - I always found it impossible as a geijin to even come near gay Japan, outside of commercial junk like Roppongi.

Sure - most of these were suggested to me - most of the films (apart from Gohatto and Okoge) got zero promotion or critical attention. Thus far at least, we don't have an internationally famous (at least in critical circles) out, contemporary Japanese filmmaker of the stature of (for example) Stanley Kwan or Tsai Ming-liang, so comparatively it doesn't look like much is happening; but I think that's an incorrect assumption, and there are definitely those classic filmmakers...


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 169 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 7  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Superswede11, Yahoo [Bot]


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection