A 1985 film, directed and written by Paul Schrader, starring Ken Ogata (121 min, color and b&w). Yukio Mishima remains one of Japan's most fascinating enigmas.

An international literary darling, he was a prize-winning novelist and playwright, a body builder, and the founder of his own private army, Tate no Kai, the Shield Society.

He seems to have thought of his life as a work of art and got other people to think of it that way too. He fancied himself a samurai, and died according to his own plan: After occupying the Ichigaya headquarters of the Japanese Self-Defense Force (Army) with some of his soldiers, he disemboweled himself then was beheaded by a follower.

This Paul Schrader film (which Mishima's family still will not allow to be shown in Japan) is a carefully structured examination of three different Mishimas: Public, private and literary.

The Death of Yukio Mishima on his last day is counterpointed with black-and-white sequences showing his childhood and adolescence, and with stylized color dramatizations of scenes from his novels, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House and Runaway Horses.

The idiotic score by Philip Glass is not as risible when heard in the context of the film as it is on CD.

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