11/25 The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate ("11·25 jiketsu no hi: Mishima Yukio to wakamono-tachi")
“Complex and absorbing” — Simon Abrams, INDIEWIRE
November 25, 1970. The Land of the Rising Sun is in a state of shock. Having taken the commander of Tokyo’s general quarter Japanese self-defense forces hostage, successful novelist Yukio Mishima attempts to convince the assembled soldiers to overthrow the ruling regime. Getting nothing but insults in return, he sees his plans for a coup d’état slowly fading away. Engulfed by shame, he has no choice but to commit seppuku, the samurai suicide ritual.
In order to capture the entire scope of this atrocious gesture, 11/25 THE DAY MISHIMA CHOSE HIS OWN FATE relates Mishima’s last years as well as his numerous ideological battles. While in the running for a Nobel Prize, the artist begins a rigorous military training through which he connects with a group of right-wing students. Together, they form a private militia devoted to the preservation of ancestral values. Mishima believes that only the restoration of the Emperor’s power can save Japan. He is willing to sacrifice anything to see his project to fruition, even his own skin.
Mishima’s true masterpiece isn’t his literature but the political engagement that led to his death. With this biographical fresco, Koji Wakamatsu, the dark child of ‘pinku eiga’, continues a trend started in 2007 with UNITED RED ARMY, where he relates the dark chapters of his country’s contemporary history. In tracing the chaotic portrait of one of his era’s greatest Japanese novelist, the director of VIOLATED ANGELS expresses a severe but sound critique of the inevitable sacrifices caused by extreme militancy. This corrosive political lesson is treated with a remarkable sobriety that brilliantly escapes the traps of spectacle. Wakamatsu portrays Mishima as man torn apart by his principles rather than a hero. As the writer, Arate Iura (AIR DOLL) delivers a blood-chilling performance. While it details events that took place over half a century ago, MISHIMA remains relevant today. It is a letter written by a revolted filmmaker and addressed to young activists around the world. Presented within the Un certain regard section of the Cannes Festival, we can’t deny that this necessary work has arrived right on time, just when the tides are beginning to turn.
— Simon Laperrière