Ingmar Bergman's 1989 stage adaptation of Mishima Yukio's Madame de Sade (1965) was presented at Tokyo's Globe Theatre in 1990 as part of the events commemorating the 20th-anniversary of Mishima's death. Since it was performed in Swedish, Japanese translation was provided via headphones. In Madame de Sade Bergman detects Mishima's interest in both French Neoclassicism (esp. Racine) and Japanese Noh. Although he sees explicit parallels between 18th-century France with its ritualized relationships, garish costumes, and the language of the fan and the equally rigid conventional behavior in the Japanese court, with its rituals and magnificent attire, Bergman considers Mishima's work a modern Noh play in its own right. He admits in interviews that his translation choices aimed to externalize the "dark night" of Mishima's soul as he saw it reflected in the six women awaiting or dreading the Marquis' release from prison (Bergman worked with a literary translation by Gunilla Lindberg-Wada).
Mme de Sade's ritualized and choreographed relationships with her husband, mother, and sister allow Mishima to employ Noh theatrical conventions which he modernizes, pairing up the themes of profound desire and emotional attachment with a universal guilt of doing nothing to oppose evil in a recognizably post-WWII context.
For Bergman, however, Markisinnan becomes a companion piece to his Kvinnors väntan (1952) and Höstsonaten (1978) privileging painful emotional releases of thwarted longing in women's relationships with their lovers or mothers. He also seeks to represent Mishima's persona on par with both Mishima's self-portrait in Confessions of a Mask (1948) and Paul Schrader's controversial Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985). Such conditions might account for Bergman's interpretative transformations of one of Mishima's dominant symbol, the all-consuming fire, into the destructive light of the A-bomb and a reflection of the "total global cynicism" which he detects in western liberal democracy.
Courtesy of SSoiledSSinema