Another one of Wakamatsu’s probes into political extremism in Japan. An ascetic and unbiased analysis of ill-timed and misplaced idealism.
On November 25th, 1970, a man committed ritual suicide inside the Tokyo headquarters of the Japan Self-Defence Forces. The man was Yukio Mishima, one of Japan’s greatest and most
celebrated novelists. With four members of his own private army Mishima had taken the commandant hostage and called upon the assembled military outside the Ministry to overthrow their society and restore the powers of the Emperor. When the soldiers mocked Mishima, he cut short his speech and withdrew to the commandant’s office where he committed seppuku, the samurai warrior’s death, tearing open his belly with a ceremonial knife before being beheaded by one of his colleagues. What was Mishima truly trying to express through his actions? And what did he witness during his final moments?
»In this film, I decided to focus on the opposite side of the 1960s to the one I explored in United Red Army. Both Mishima and the left-wing radicals were struggling to alter Japan for the better; time has allowed us to see that in our society nothing has changed. What were they fighting for? Who was the real enemy? Why did Mishima decide to end his life as he did? How should humans live and die? And why? Questions raise further questions – it never ends. This is why I had to make this film.« (Koji Wakamatsu)
Born as Ito Takashi in 1936 in Miyagi, Japan, Wakamatsu’s first film dates from 1963. He established his own production company, the Wakamatsu Productions, in 1965. His cinematic oeuvre includes over a hundred films.