Mishima’s Rite of Love and Death


Yukio Mishima’s extraordinary, little-seen 28-minute film Yûkoku aka Patriotism aka Rite of Love & Death (1966) was released on DVD earlier this year via Criterion. You can also see it now on Ubuweb.

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 (Yûkoku), 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.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Secret Lives of the Samurai
Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastian
The art of Takato Yamamoto

5 thoughts on “Mishima’s Rite of Love and Death”

  1. I just saw this (during a hurricane, no less) in August. What to say about it that wouldn’t sound trite? I’m just glad that it’s still with us. I’m also quite excited to see the newly recovered “director’s cut” of Metropolis when that comes out.

  2. A stunning film. It contained so many visual rhymes and allusions/memories of other avant-garde works. I was reminded of Cocteau, Genet, Anger etc., not to mention half-understood references to japanese mythology. I loved the way Reiko’s kimono brushed blood around the floor, echoing the calligraphy of their suicide notes. The transition from No stage to Zen ritual garden at the end was fantastic as well. The only thing that jarred for me was the syrupy western score. I would’ve preferred something akin to Teiji Ito’s soundtrack for Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon.

  3. Evan: Sight & Sound ran a feature about the rediscovered Metropolis. The quality isn’t that great, as I recall, so the new sections will jar against the old. But I still want to see them as well.

    Dave: Genet does indeed come to mind and Ubuweb also have a copy of Chant d’Amour. For a Mishima soundtrack I recommend something by Toru Takemitsu.

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