(aka "Mishima" )

 

directed by Paul Schrader
USA 1985

 

Paul Schrader's visually stunning, collagelike portrait of acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio 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, the film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer's life as well as by 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 tribute to its subject and a bold, investigative work of art in its own right.

***

A fantasist recreating himself in his own image to perfection; a narcissist building his puny body into a muscled samurai; an ultra-rightist patriot raising a private army to restore Japan to its former glory; an artist achieving his spiritual redemption through the ritual disembowelling of seppuku.

Excerpt of review from Excerpt from Timout Film Guide located HERE located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 15th, 1985

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Warner - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg for the Warner Screen Caps!

(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Warner

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 432
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:00:28 2:01:12
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.10 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Warner

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Audio English; Japanese (2.0 Dolby Digital), French; Japanese (2.0 Dolby Digital), Japanese (2.0 Dolby Digital)

English; Japanese (2.0 Dolby Digital)

Subtitles English (Burnt-in on the non English parts), English (entire film), French, Japanese English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Paul Schrader
• Inside Mishima (10.31)
• Delated scene (1:11)
• Trailer (4:3 / 1:27)
• Cast & Crew
• Production notes
• DVD-9

DVD Release Date: August 7th, 2001
Snap Case

Chapters 34
 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• 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 (21:57), composer Philip Glass, and production designer Eiko Ishioka (43:50)
• New video interviews with Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie (26:43)
• New audio interview with coscreenwriter Chieko Schrader (25:51)
• Video interview excerpt featuring Mishima talking about writing (6:14)
• The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima, a 55-minute BBC documentary about the author
• Theatrical trailer
• Liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film’s censorship

 

DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Custom case (see photo)

Chapters 28

 

Comments

The Criterion is being advertised as 'New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the director's cut, supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey'. I don't know the nature of their involvement with the transfer but I can quickly tell from looking at the Warner captures (from their August 7, 2001 disc) that the latter has had some boosting with minor edge-enhancement showing - but the most prominent difference may be the artifacts existing in the older DVD edition. Neither seem particularly consistent and this may be due to the existing source print (commentary mentions some digital changes to the Criterion). There are sequences that the old Warner seems to look superior and many others where the Criterion is on top. Personally, I prefer the smoother, somewhat muted Criterion look. Others may differ. The Criterion shows more information in the frame - mostly on the edges and bottom of the screen.

On the audio front Criterion offer optional English and Japanese voice-over narrations, the former by Roy Scheider, the latter by Ken Ogata. Subtitles are optional for the Japanese voice-over narration (and on the English although the translation appears the exact same) and I can't rightly figure how I got the subtitles to show on the top and bottom of the screen (see sample below - presently looking into it). So you can have subtitles when Scheider narrates and they are the same as when Ogata does. Subtitles appear fully removable throughout the film (all dialogue) and, without the messing around that I did, always display on the bottom.

NOTE: the Warner disc claims this

But it is not his voice.

The 2001 Warner disc had a Paul Schrader commentary but this new Criterion edition has a more recently recorded (2006) audio commentary featuring the director and producer Alan Poul. They touch on many subjects and it is very informative. Disc two (dual-layered) has some 2008 video interviews with cinematographer John Bailey, producers Tom Luddy and Mata Yamamoto, composer Philip Glass, and production designer Eiko Ishioka. They are divided under the headings 'Making Mishima' and 'Producing Mishima' and run 45 minutes and 21 minutes respectively. I was very keen on the 26 minute interviews with Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie as they explored the more personal issue of the man. Those interested enough might indulge in the 25 minutes worth of audio (only) interviews with co-screenwriter Chieko Schrader also recorded in 2008. She was a vital cog in the production and has some valuable information to impart. There is a short video interview excerpt featuring Mishima talking about writing (6:14) with Jean Prasteau from a 1966 French television program (MORE from this series can be found on Criterion's Patriotism DVD). Most rewarding is a 55-minute BBC documentary about the author entitled The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima. It features extensive archival footage of Yukio Mishima as well as having interviews with those who knew him. There is a theatrical trailer and beautiful 58-page liner notes booklet with many color photos and featuring a new essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film’s censorship.

Both the film and this Criterion DVD releases are a full education. It's a grand and complete DVD package loaded with information. Frankly, I'm not 100% comfortable with this 2-disc set yet and think I need to revisit the narrative and extras in a few weeks - my head is find of swimming with all the information. It's quite a daunting package but one we surely recommend - a true keepsake of a unique and memorable film.   

 -Gary Tooze

 



Criterion package

 

 

DVD Menus
(
Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 

Criterion Disc 2

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

NOTE: Altered from Blue to orangey/red as per the director's wishes...

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion - more information in frame, less artifacts

Sound:

Criterion - The CRITERION has the Roy Scheider narration, the Warner has replaced it with an other voice!

Extras: Criterion
Menu: Criterion

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Warner

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 432
Region 1 - NTSC

 

 


 





 

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Gary Tooze

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