What's new

HTF DVD REVIEW: Patriotism (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough

Patriotism Directed by Yukio Mishima Studio: Criterion Year: 1966 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Running Time: 27/29 minutes Rating: NR Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0 mono Japanese Subtitles: English MSRP: $ 29.95 Release Date: July 1, 2008 Review Date: July 3, 2008
The Film
Images, images, images. Director (and renaissance man) Yukio Mishima has loaded this brief film Patriotism with an array of images that are exotic, erotic, arresting, and disturbing. The story is simple, but the emotional impact is so visceral that it’s hard to take in its initial viewing. Subsequent screenings reveal a clever combination of motifs which give the film its curious allure and resonance. Still, what a surprise that such a brief tale could generate such profound emotions though the use of such compact sight and sound! A Japanese lieutenant (Yukio Mishima), faced with the duty of doling out punishment to friends of his whose coup d’état against the existing government failed, decides that he will instead commit ritual hara-kiri and expects his loyal and loving new bride Reiko (Yoshiko Tsuruoka) to follow him. After a night of lovemaking, they follow through with his plan. The screenplay, based on a story by Yukio Mishima, couldn’t be any leaner, but the intensity of feelings, especially the lieutenant’s, is almost unbearable to watch, and his seppuku is shown in ghastly detail, its grisliness and violence made all the more abhorrent by his cries of agony and the gushingly effusive musical bombast of Richard Wagner. Operatic to its core, this suicide is one for the ages. (It must be said that the wife’s subsequent seppuku is done far more artistically and less in your face.) Mishima’s effects are intensified by his startlingly clever use of a simplistic Noh stage on which to mount this grandiose story of love and loss. The mixture of styles: the spare Noh set with a huge portrait above featuring two Japanese characters spelling out “Wholehearted Sincerity” combined with these two gorgeous people entwining themselves in both love and death amid the extravagant strains of Wagner’s music has an emotional heft that many films of greater ambition and extravagance never quite attain. The hypnotic spell of this guileless story is made even more compelling knowing that only four years later, the star-director-writer of the project would carry out this selfsame act only this time for real.
Video Quality
The 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the original film is represented faithfully by these two video transfers (more about that in the bonus features). Though sharpness is nice, and the film doesn’t have any bothersome age artifacts that spoil image quality, the blacks are the most disappointing aspect of this black and white transfer. They’re extremely milky and don’t nearly reach the depths that would allow the image to attain its true richness. The white subtitles are easy to read though some pass by quickly. The film has been divided into 5 chapters.
Audio Quality
The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track betrays the film’s age instantly with a crackly, noise-riddled soundtrack that isn’t disguised at all by the increased volume of the recording. The Wagner music is lush, but the low end is particularly lacking causing the soundtrack to sound trebly throughout.
Special Features
Criterion offers two versions of the film: the original Japanese version and a Japanese version with English scroll intertitles (which runs two minutes longer). Mishima also did the scrolls for French and Italian versions of the movie, but they’re not offered here. Five members of the original crew (the producer, the makeup man, the production designer, and two assistant cameramen) spend 49 ½ minutes reminiscing about the two day production shoot for this short film. Some surprising information surfaces about the making of the movie during this question and answer session. 2 television interview excerpts with Yukio Mishima, one talking about the effects of World War II on him (which lasts 4 ½ minutes) and another about the ways for a noble death (5 minutes) are offered. Both were shot in 1966 for Japanese TV. An audio featurette with a Mishima speech and question and answer session in English before the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan is offered in an indexed 49-minute session. An enclosed 72-page booklet contains some movie stills and production photos, an appreciation of Mishima’s work by critic Tony Rayns, Mishima’s own production notes on the making of the film, and the original short story by Mishima from which he adapted the screenplay.
In Conclusion
3.5/5 (not an average)
Knowing the end Mishima would come to in a few short years after he shot this movie, Patriotism both impresses and repulses, an apt tribute to a man who spent his entire artistic career trying to attain elusive emotional qualities that always seemed just out of reach. For a few brief moments here, he found what he was looking for. Matt Hough Charlotte, NC

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks