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Empire of Passion (1978)

Ai no bôrei (original title)
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A married woman and her lover murder her husband and dump his body into a well. After a while, his ghost comes to haunt them while the local gossip grows stronger.

Director:

Nagisa Ôshima

Writers:

Itoko Nakamura (story), Nagisa Ôshima
Reviews
3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Tatsuya Fuji ... Toyoji
Kazuko Yoshiyuki Kazuko Yoshiyuki ... Seki
Takahiro Tamura ... Gisaburo
Takuzô Kawatani Takuzô Kawatani ... Inspector Hotta
Akiko Koyama Akiko Koyama ... Mother of Landowner
Taiji Tonoyama ... Toichiro
Sumie Sasaki Sumie Sasaki ... Odame
Eizô Kitamura Eizô Kitamura
Masami Hasegawa Masami Hasegawa ... Oshin
Kenzô Kawarasaki Kenzô Kawarasaki ... (as Kenzo Kawarazaki)
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Storyline

A young man has an affair with an older woman. He is very jealous of her husband and decides that they should kill him. One night, after the husband had plenty of sake to drink and was in bed, they strangle him and dump his body down a well. To avert any suspicions, she pretends her husband has gone off to Tokyo to work. For three years the wife and her lover secretly see each other. Finally, suspicions become very strong and people begin to gossip. To make matters worse, her husband's ghost begins to haunt her and the law arrives to investigate her husband's disappearance. Written by Kevin Risch <krisch@intranet.on.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

well | ghost | village | murder | japan | See All (43) »

Taglines:

The haunting of a passionate love.

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan | France

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

26 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of Passion See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Official submission of Japan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 51st Academy Awards in 1979. See more »

Connections

Featured in Music for the Movies: Tôru Takemitsu (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Empire of Passion
3 January 2016 | by mevmijaumauSee all my reviews

Nagisa Oshima's second co-production with France, Empire of Passion (based on the manuscript of Itoko Nakamura's then-unpublished novel), is often falsely considered to be a sequel to his previous film, In the Realm of the Senses. However, despite featuring the same lead actor (Tatsuya Fuji), the two films are only loosely connected by some of the similar themes they share, making them a diptych of sorts.

Empire of Passion is set in the Meiji era and, like the previous film, focuses on the nature of passionate love, or the consummation of sexuality and how it can offer an escape from the repressive outside world. However, the two protagonists in this film are doomed from the start because of this, as the fleeting sensations lead them to irreparable life choices which then take a heavy toll on their psyche. The film is much less sexually explicit than Realm, but is more disturbing and overall it's a much darker tale, with some kaidan (ghost story) elements. The appearance of a traditional Japanese depiction of a ghost fits into the whole "folktale" mood of the film, complete with a narrator voice of a creepy old lady.

Unlike Realm, Empire is set in the natural world. Thus, the film is defined by seasonal shifts (it actually goes in reverse, Winter-Autumn- Summer-Spring) and the two main characters are left in mercy of the chaotic, indifferent world of nature. Some of the most beautiful shots from the movie are in fact landscapes, or seen from under a well. Toru Takemitsu's soundtrack is quite good as usual.

Unfortunately, the film seemed to meander a bit, and some of the ghost scenes are pretty cheesy. The theatrical acting was a bit too much in several parts (lead actress Kazuko Yoshiyuki is beyond cute here, though) and overall, the film didn't quite click with me.


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