Enjō (Conflagration). 1958. Japan. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. Screenplay by Ichikawa, Keiji Hasebe, based on the novel by Yukio Mishima. With Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Ganjiro Nakamura. In Japanese; English subtitles. 99 min.
Kon Ichikawa transformed one of Japan’s most important 20th-century novels into one of its greatest films, about a sensational incident that occurred in 1950 when a tormented young acolyte burned Kyoto’s ancient Zen temple of the Golden Pavilion to the ground in an ecstatic act of vengeful jealousy. Donald Richie marveled at the film’s “frightening schizoid beauty,” noting how Miyagawa’s widescreen, deep-focus cinematography and Toshiro Mayuzumi’s haunting, incantatory music captured the aesthetic objectivity of Yukio Mishima’s writing.
35mm print from The Japan Foundation; courtesy Janus Films.