EMPIRE OF PASSION (1978) [Feature]

Japan/France (MIFF 1979 )
Director: Nagisa Oshima

Nagisa Oshima, in his companion piece to his celebrated Empire of the Senses, once again turns to the subject of passion and death, and once again, to a real happening — this time taking place in a remote village, in 1895. But, unlike the former story of a man and a woman destroying themselves in the searing world of sex they created, this tale about the affair between a young man and a woman 20 years older than he, concentrates on 'the destructive forces of passion in a rigid world, where the supernatural seems to play a part of everyday life'.

The woman is forty, still attractive, and married to a bibulous older rickshaw man. The young man is both lover and child to her: he commands complete passion from her, but also makes childlike demands, and even seeks her protection.

He fears that the husband may start to suspect something; she gets the man drunk, and the lovers, together, strangle him, then hide his body in a disused well. She tells the villagers that her husband has gone to Tokyo, and to avoid suspicion, they do not meet for a while. But now, the husband's ghost begins to haunt his wife, and to appear in the dreams of the villagers.

When another murder brings the police to the village, the lovers are discovered and brought to justice. They are brutally beaten, but even under torture, they try to protect each other Finally, they confess and are condemned to death.

Nagisa Oshima

Born 1932.

Features: Ai to Kibo no Machi (A Town of Love and Hope) (1959), Seishun Zankoku Monogatari (Naked Youth), Taiyo no Hakaba (The Sun's Burial), Nihon no Yoru to Kiri (Night and Fog in Japan) (1960), Shiiku (The Catch) (1961), Amakusa Shiro Tokisada (The Rebel) (1962), Chiisana Boken Ryoko (A Simple Adventure), Watachi wa Bellet (I Am Bellet) (1964), Etsuraku (The Pleasures of the Flesh), Yunbogi no Nikki (The Diary of Yunbogi) (1965), Hakuchu no Torima (Violence at Noon) (1966), Ninja Bugeicho (Band of Ninja), Nihon Shunka-Ko (Sing a Song of Sex), Muri Shinju Nihon no Natsu (Japanese Summer: Double Suicide) (1967), Koshikei (Death by Hanging), Kaettekita Ypparai (Three Resurrected Drunkards), Shinjuku Dorobo Nikki (Diary of a Shinjuku Thief) (1968), Shonen (Boy) (1969), Tokyo Senso Sengo Hiwa (The Man Who Left His Will on Film) (1970), Gishiki (The Ceremony) (1971), Natsu no Imoto (Dear Summer Sister) (1972), Ai no Corida (Empire of the Senses) (1976).

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