Restored Footage at Centre of ‘Mishima’ Documentary on Controversial Literary Figure

Restored footage of an infamous Tokyo University debate between controversial Japanese poet and novelist Yukio Mishima and university students is the centerpiece of a documentary “Mishima: The Last Debate” by Keisuke Toyoshima, which will be released theatrically in Japan in March.

Mishima, real name Hiraoka Kimitake, is known equally as one of Japan’s most important 20th century literary figures, nominated for the Nobel Prize,, and as an unrepentant Japanese nationalist who wanted the powers of the Emperor to be restored.
The heated debate was held in 1969 at a time of mass protests in Japan, that included an uprising among students. A year later after failing to inspire an army mutiny, Mishima killed himself in ritual Japanese fashion.

The original footage of the debate was believed to have been lost, but was discovered by film makers during the process of making the documentary. It has been restored and preserved in 4K.

“Though they have different opinions to each other, Mishima addressed and influenced the young audience with respect. Through the restored 4K footage and interviews of the people involved in the discussion, the people who knew Mishima at that time, journalists and authors of our times, the film pursues timeless thoughts of Mishima which appeals to the people even today,” said Japanese firm Gaga Corp. which will handle international rights licensing.

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Mishima’s best known works include “Confessions of a Mask,” about a man forced to disguise his homosexuality in order to fit in with society, and “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.” Biographer Andrew Rankin called Mishima an “aesthetic terrorist,” and said: “Mishima’s work is characterized by its luxurious vocabulary and decadent metaphors, its fusion of traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles, and its obsessive assertions of the unity of beauty, eroticism and death.”

Gaga will pitch the film to distributors next month at the European Film Market, an adjunct to the Berlin Film Festival. “The Last Debate” is set for release in Japan on March 20, 2020.

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