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Empire of Passion (1978)

Ai no bôrei (original title)
1:53 | Trailer
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.


Nagisa Ôshima


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





Cast overview:
Tatsuya Fuji ... Toyoji
Kazuko Yoshiyuki ... Seki
Takahiro Tamura ... Gisaburo
Takuzô Kawatani Takuzô Kawatani ... Inspector Hotta
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)


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) »


The haunting of a passionate love.


Drama | Horror | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


While filming the scene where Toyoji tries to break into the burning house by ramming the door down, Tatsuya Fuji tore three ligaments in his shoulder and dislocated his arm. Three days later, he was back on the set filming the scene where he was being hung from a tree and beaten, with his arm still in a sling (although removed between takes). See more »


Referenced in Radio On (1979) See more »

User Reviews

A haunting, poetic tale inspired by true incidents...
15 July 2003 | by Andrew!See all my reviews

***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** First, let me state that I am a huge film buff, but unfortunately somewhat new to Japanese films. I also want to clarify something that seemed unclear in previous reviews I've read here. The English title "In the Realm of Passion" appears to be truly an exploitive maneuver (probably by the director or studio executive) to lure the viewer into thinking that this is somehow related to "In The Realm of the Senses". It has nothing in common except that it's set in feudal japan, the plot involves a scandalous affair, starring the same leading male actor, and it's directed by the same director. the story and characters are not directly related in any way. I expected tons of steamy sex scenes, possibly involving the "in the..senses" characters.This is not that kind of movie.That having been said, I still liked it, and found it to be very haunting and disturbing at times.

BIG-TIME SPOILERS AHEAD In a nutshell, the story involves a boring, ignorant, (but diligent) husband who who goes about his daily business of providing for his family, which includes 2 children and a wife-who happens to be having an affair with a much younger man. Together their foolish passions ignite a ridiculous plot to kill her husband, after she gets him drunk on saki. They dump his body in a well and try to live their life as though nothing had happen. It isn't long before the village starts to doubt the wife's story about her husband being "out of town". Shortly after his death, the slain husband appears as a desolate, confused ghost, which tortures the now going insane wife. Soon an inspector arrives and probes deeper into the lover's tangled web...SPOILER END Even though the story is somewhat of a cliché, I feel it hasn't really dated. I found the tale truly creepy, and to me gave me a unique window into life in feudal Japan. I felt the undertone of a silent thriller, that would lead up to jagged little moments of shock, and suspense. I was slightly annoyed by the lead actress's "whiny" nature but thought, overall, everyone pulled it off. An interesting movie, that quietly grabs you, and slowly pulls you in. This may sound bizarre, but I kept feeling the same creepiness of "the Ring" ("Ringu") The well scene, themes of the undead, the ominous forest were all themes in comon with that thriller. Check it out.

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Japan | France



Release Date:

26 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of Passion See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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