Rule of Three
Harold and Maude
directed by Hal Ashby
A woman smiles to herself, soaking up the sunlight. Pristine swimming cap in place, she disrobes and proceeds into a turquoise pool. As she advances, the camera tilts down, trailing the glinting ripples of her steady stroke. Two feet bob into view as the lens descends. They are attached to a body, fully clothed, floating face-down in the water. Gliding past her seemingly lifeless son, the swimmer flicks her eyes to heaven, then continues her length unperturbed. Harold's mother has grown weary of his hobbies as a funeral gate-crasher and death-faker. Finding meaning and mirth in morbidity, he variously burns, bleeds, and falls to his end.
Words by Elizabeth Brown
by Yukio Mishima
‘Patriotism’ carefully traces the lives of a pair of vibrant, youthful newlyweds. Despite the couple’s recent marriage, though, this is not the portrait of an intimate, loving relationship. It is the tragic tale of an intense, almost unfathomable, loyalty. Yukio Mishima crafts each sentence with a precise clarity that is as achingly beautiful as it is painful to read. The spouses’ eventual fate is foreshadowed and drawn out, slowly brought closer with each word. As the story is drawn full circle, we are left in shock and awe. Recalling the conclusion, we sense a tight knot forming in our stomachs.
Written by Katherine Fieldgate
by Toru Takemitsu
Low, ominous rumbles and keening woodwind melodies combine at a funereal pace. They repeat, cycling as if outside of time, intermittently disturbed by flourishes of violence that match the massacre onscreen. Like the bloody brutality that it accompanies, the score both troubles and beguiles, compelling us to pay closer attention even as we wish to turn away. This long sequence unfolds without sound effects, leaving the music to chart its own course. At times, it seems eerily independent of the events onscreen, as if listening to the anguish at a distance, and with an indifferent ear.
Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe
More to discover
Patriotism: You can read the short story here.
Characters commit harakiri, an act of ritual suicide, in each of these works (as did Yukio Mishima, author of 'Patriotism', himself).
Question of the day
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, directed by Nagisa Oshima. (→)
– Hugh Maloney, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)
Quarantine, an album by Laurel Halo. The cover artwork, created by Makoto Aida, is called Harakiri School Girls. (→)
– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)