Cinema Simply Different

25. November 1970. The homosexual Japanese Author and Nationalist Yukio Mishima and four members of his paramilitary organisation force their way into a barrack in central Tokyo and demand the restoration of the emperor. His novels told of beauty, obsession, sexuality, masochism and death. About a monk who cannot bear the beauty of the golden pavilion in Kyoto and burns it down. About lovers that sensually slice each other’s skin or a homosexual who has to hide his orientation. Or about conspirators in the 1930s who wish to sacrifice themselves for the emperor. Mishima wove his life into his novels – and wished to end it like one of them.


Paul Schrader’s unconventional biopic deftly handles the contradictions in the life and work of the controversial author. The film stylistically contrasts its interwoven plots: Flashbacks to Mishima’s childhood in black and white, extracts from his novels in strong primary colours and on a theatre set, and his coup attempt in faded, real-life colours. The combination of music by Philip Glass, gorgeous production-design by Eiko Ishioka, and Paul Schraders carefully researched script makes for a portrait of extraordinary intensity.

Written and translated by Michael Schmutzer

Other films in this program