My Old Addiction

Movie Reviews By Bil Antoniou

Empire Of Passion (Ai No Borei) (1978)

NAGISA OSHIMA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBJapan/France, 1978, , .  Story by ,Screenplay by Nagisa Oshima.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  Cannes Film Festival 1978.  

Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda in Empire of Passion.

Nagisa Oshima follows his notoriously explicit In The Realm of The Senses with a tamer but still erotic tale of sex and guilt.  The wife of a dull rickshaw driver falls into the arms of a sexy ruffian and the two become regular lovers, indulging quite passionately in the pleasures of the flesh while keeping the situation secret from her oblivious spouse. He suggests that they remove her husband permanently, motivated by the erotic obsession that becomes an impractical level of jealousy over her, and she agrees quite readily.  The gruesome deed is not long done before members of the village start to question where the deceased man has gone, and even more eerie is his appearing to the evildoing couple as well as other members of the community in the form of a pale ghostly figure seeking his rest.  Ripe imagery and colours that burst off the screen plus the terrific indulgence in rich sexuality make this a hot and heavy morality tale that takes a strong line and yet never feels judgmental.  The acting is superb and the direction, which deservedly earned Oshima a prize at Cannes, is pristine.

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