Obsession and fate collide in one of the most controversial and provocative films ever made. English widow Anne Osborne (Ryan's Daughter's Sarah Miles) lives by the sea with her young son, Jonathan. The arrival of a rugged... more » American sailor, Jim (Blade's Kris Kristofferson), brings Anne the joy and sensual fulfillment she thought had gone forever, but her son is disturbed by this new intruder and joins a perverse group of fellow students led by the charismatic Chief. With its disturbing shock ending and frank love scenes, this stylish adaptation of the novel by legendary writer Yukio Mishima has become a timeless classic, with stylish direction by Lewis John Carlino (The Great Santini), powerhouse performances, exquisite cinematography by the legendary Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and a haunting score by Johnny Mandel (M*A*S*H). Beautiful, eerie, and erotic, this spellbinder has been restored from archival elements to its anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) glory.« less
"This movie takes the liberty of transplanting the Yukio Mishima novel's setting from Yokohama, Japan to a sleepy English port town. Inevitably, it changes the nationalities of the protagonists (Japanese widow and sailor to English and American, respectively). These modifications are not what detracts from the movie's impact, but instead the plotline and the character development (or rather, the lack of).
Regarding plot, the filmmakers took an oversimplified approach on Mishima's rich examination into the characters' psyches. This successively leads to the poor character development in the film. The actors sincerely try to display intensity in their characters' roles, but without any understanding of their derivations, they muddle the story. A good example involves the "chief" of the boys' gang. We are given an expose his controlling, fascist behavior: one memorable scene involves him angrily kicking out all the members of the gang from his house due to them not grasping his level of consciousness (the twisted, hateful look on this young boy's face shows his ferocity). But without further details on his motives or personality, it's difficult to surmise his attitude. We only see that he is an angry, manipulative, nihilistic monster.
The love affair between the sailor and the mother of one of the gangmembers actully compounds the film's problems. Although their sex scenes are erotic and very explicit (they were considered quite shocking for that time; today they might qualify as soft-core pornography, albeit many will disagree with this), one is left to wonder what attracts these two who have such disparity between them? The director places great emphasis on this physical attraction and spends much time detailing this. Again, a lot of effort being placed into one facet of these people without knowing the fundamentals of them.
This film does have its positive qualities: the English setting is wonderfully photographed and the filmmakers show an earnest effort in conveying Mishima's story onto film."
Great at the Time; Doesn't hold up; maybe I've aged
Unique ViewPoint | Gaithersburg, MD USA | 06/07/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was 22 when this first came out and thought it was a very emotional and sensuous movie. The ending produced a tremendous feeling of sadness which stayed with me for years. I recently saw it again. Disappointingly it has one of the most erotic scenes edited. The trick of showing time passing by having a picture boat glide across a picture ocean really seems corny. For a better Sarah Miles movie which holds up for its eroticism and story quality, I'd recommend "Ryan's Daughter"."
The premise of the movie is more interesting than the movie.
Lucinda Lace | 10/21/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I remember hearing how steamy and heavy this movie was when it came out, way back when. I also recall seeing an infamous photo spread that piqued my interest. Having just viewed it, I would have to say that it's disappointing, due mostly to two things: a) it's dated, and b) it tends to be melodramatic instead of dramatic. Unfortunately, the premise of the movie is more interesting than the movie itself. The right elements are there -- lonely, young widow; studly sailor; confused, hormonally driven son; psychotic friend and a surprise ending -- but it seems more like The Exorcist at times than a drama. I think the director was going for a Bergmanesque kind of quiet and seriousness, but the movie doesn't get there. Part of the problem is that the son in the movie isn't up to the task as an actor. The movie is based on a short story, which, I have a feeling, conveys itself better than the movie does. Incidentally, there is one bit in one of the erotic scenes that has been edited out-- also a disappointment since you don't know that when ordering."
A fine film, but is this dvd censored?
Lucinda Lace | Paris | 08/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Haunting, and utterly creepy oddity from the 70's, a time when film makers could finally begin to bring their personal artistic visions to the screen, without the fear of censorship. The subtle, romantic affair between the woman and the sailor, and the disturbing nature of her young son and his band of twisted friends, make for a jarring combination of light and darkness, innocence and evil. The seaside village is extremely beautiful and provides a fine backdrop to the tale. But after all I heard about "controversial sex scenes," I must admit that i didn't see anything of the sort. There is one scene early on in the film, where Sara Miles masturbates in front of her mirror, while her son watches through a peep hole, covered in sweat! But after that there was really nothing. The scenes with Miles and Kristoferson just arent there. The scene always seems to begin after they are finished with the sex and just lying in eachothers arms. It seems that so much is missing that parts of the story dont even make sense. For instance, when the mother goes berserk after she discovers her son watching; why does she go so crazy, I have to wonder what he saw, because i didnt see anything! Also something he sees through that peephole causes him to develop a totally unreasonable hatred and disrespect for his mother, and her lover, who always treated him very nicely! If this is indeed cut, it is only evidence that censorship is still alive and well and thriving in the closed, dirty minds of Americans. It seems like we should have made some progress since the 1970's, but it saddens me to see that we have somehow degenerated as a society, at least in our views of sexuality. This saddens me for some reason. Other than this glaring and unforgivable flaw, the dvd offers a gorgeous, widescreen print of this film, making it an even greater loss somehow..."
This is an excellent DVD rendering of the original film....
StevetheStater | 08/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't talk about the in's-and-outs of the story line and the social impact of the film. I'll just say that this DVD version being sold here on Amazon is an outstanding rendering of the original film. This DVD version is sharp and well-made and I didn't notice any parts of the movie that were cut. I'd recommend buying this DVD if you're looking for a great copy of the film."