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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Philip Glass - "Mishima" CD, Album, 1985 (Nonsuch)


Now, this is a very nice cocktail.  The subject matter of Yukio Mishima, filmmaker Paul Schrader, and music by Philip Glass all in one package.  Well, the music is here.  This is one of my favorite soundtrack albums, because it serves the purpose of the narrative and images of the film, and stands on its own as an album.   Also, I have heard the melodies on this album on other works by Glass, so I suspect that this is music that he comes back to time-to-time.  

Consistently beautiful, but the dynamic is a subject that is very Japanese (Eastern) made by an American filmmaker and sounds by an American composer.  They didn't exotic it up.  As someone who writes, "Mishima" the film is one of the great movies of a writer's  life.  Usually, cinema fails in the writer biography due that we get scenes of the author behind the typewriter and sweating and drinking in despair.  Due to restrictions made by Mishima's wife, she didn't allow any mention of his homosexuality, his politics, and his suicide.   Which all Mishima fans know those three subject matters are what makes Yukio Mishima a fascinating figure and artist.   At times, he was a performance artist as well as a prose writer. Mishima did make films, both as a filmmaker and an actor.  He was the king of media when alive.   Schrader did a fantastic thing.  Instead of shooting the author's life, he had to go somewhere he wasn't restricted, and that is his books.  Schrader had the film rights so he could mine the material on Mishima through his writing.  This can be dangerous ground, but Schrader picked and chose the right pieces to tell the Mishima narrative.   

The exquisite music is delicate as well as coming like a powerful wave to the listener.   On one cut it sounds like a surf melody with an electric guitar.   So, there are surprises here and there.  A masterful soundtrack for an excellent film on a remarkable writer.