A film about a grand passion, an insatiable love based on a real case in Japan concerning the relationship between Kichizo, a married inn-keeper, and Sada, a serving girl Their brief and intense affair in 1936 ended with Sada killing her lover, and being found four days later, wandering the streets of Tokyo According to the film s director, Nagisa Oshima her name in Japan is still synonymous with the breaking of sexual taboos.
In his reconstruction of the story, the characters spend almost the entire film making love in twenty different rooms, and almost as many positions They make love while they eat, talk, play music receive visitors Oshima says 'I wanted gestures and words emanating from one language the sexual language Had it been different I would consider my film a failure. The chosen space is certainly that of Love and of Death, and to me it covers the whole of Japan.
The couple literally lock themselves away to indulge their passion, although they are interrupted by chamber maids geisha girls and tea ladies They draw outsiders into their enclosed world to heighten their own pleasure The erotic intensity of their activity increases as they experiment with voyeurism, making love in places where they risk being discovered and mild sado-masochism. Each is on occasion unfaithful to the other he with his wife, she with an elderly client, to earn money for food But they return to their own incessant coupling, and at the end, death stands as an integral and final part of their pleasure, so that each of them can possess the other absolutely.
Oshima describes the relation between physical passion and death as ‘an indissoluble link. In the ecstasy of love, the cry is: ‘I'm dying''.