Kon Ichikawa directed this 1958 adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion only two years after the novel was published. A young Buddhist acolyte with a speech defect is being held by the police for setting fire to a famous temple, and a series of flashbacks explains his fixation on the temple as a symbol of the order and purity missing from his own life. Ichikawa’s use of theatrical lighting changes to mark the shifts in time is masterful, and the powerful yet delicately composed black-and-white ‘Scope cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (who also shot Sansho the Bailiff) is reason enough to see this film, even if you have little taste for Mishima’s special kind of craziness. Also known as Enjo; with Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, and Ganjiro Nakamura. In Japanese with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)

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