TOKYO -- American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and Japanese producer Mata Yamamoto announced today they will jointly produce a film on the life and work of controversial novelist and political rightist Yukio Mishima.
Mishima was an internationally acclaimed writer who attempted to live out the daring romanticism he espoused in his art.
He committed harikari -- ceremonial suicide -- in 1970 after leading an abortive raid on a Tokyo military base as part of a goal of returning Japan to pre-World War II militarism under the divine sovereignty of the Emperor.
The film will be 'an attempt to fuse the man's work with his life,' Coppola said at a news conference today unveiling the venture.
'This unique man who made his life his art appeals to many of my friends and associates in the United States,' he added.
Coppola, director of the 'Godfather' films, 'Apocalypse Now,' and 'One From the Heart,' called the film 'one of the most ambitious artistic goals' he has ever attempted.
The film will be produced jointly by Coppola's Zoetrope Studios and Yamamoto's Filmlink, with Coppola acting as executive producer. It will be shot in Japan entirely in Japanese, and has been given the working title, 'Mishima.'
Yamamoto estimated the production cost at $5 million to $8 million, although he conceded it could go much higher. The film is slated for completion at the end of 1984.
Coppola said he will leave the film's direction to Paul Schrader, who directed 'Taxi Driver,' 'Cat People' and 'Raging Bull' and called Mishima 'a consumate artist, one of the great writers of the 20th Century.'
'I've been an admirer of Mishima since I was a student,' Schrader said today. 'His conflicts and accomplishments were international in scope.'
Mishima's extreme rightist political views 'were an extension of artistic dilemmas,' Shrader said.
The film will use three mediums, Schrader said. Color film will be used for Mishima's 'last day,' black-and-white for his memories, and 'blue screen' cinechrome for semi-autobiographical scenes extracted from his novels.