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

Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastian


Saint Sebastian by Guido Reni (c. 1616).

The Agony and the Ecstasy is an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, based around Guido Reni’s paintings of the martyr, six of which are on display.

This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compare directly the six masterpieces which are coming from all over the world to join the St Sebastian owned by Dulwich Picture Gallery. The paintings are coming from New Zealand, South America, Madrid, Genoa and Rome.

The claim for masterpieces is stretching the truth when art experts apparently believe that only two of the martyr paintings credited to Reni are original—the Genoa picture above and the Dulwich’s own version—the rest being later copies. The Genoa version became a favourite of Oscar Wilde and it was a Sebastian by Guido Reni that also excited the illicit passion of the 12 year-old protagonist in Yukio Mishima’s novel Confessions of a Mask. Wilde used the name Sebastian when he went into exile in Paris but he never took his identification with the saint as far as Mishima who adopted the typical pose in the famous photo taken shortly before the writer’s suicide. Wilde had no need of borrowed martyrdoms, his own was more than enough.


Yukio Mishima (1970).

The Agony and the Ecstasy runs until 11 May 2008. For further images of Saint Sebastian, this site is as comprehensive as it gets.

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The gay artists archive

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Dorian Gray revisited
Beardsley’s Salomé
The art of Takato Yamamoto
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé
Fred Holland Day
The Poet and the Pope
The Picture of Dorian Gray I & II