December 15: Empire of Passion

Thursday December 15 | 7PM Ai no Bōrei aka Empire of Passion Japan 1978 d. Nagisa Oshima with Tatsuya Fuji, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takahiro Tamura, Takuzo Kawatani, Akyoshi Fujiwara, Masami Hasegawa and Kenzo Kawarazaki. Colour. In Japanese with English subtitles. 108 m

“Set in a remote Japanese village in 1895 (“An age of civilization and enlightenment”), the film chronicles the l’amour fou affair between idle ex-soldier Toyoji (Fuji Tatsuya) and Seki (Yoshiyuki Kazuko), the older wife of rickshaw driver Gisaburo (Tamura Takahiro). Toyoji’s jealousy drives them to kill the husband, but the pall of guilt and persecution—enhanced by the appearance of Gisaburo’s dejected, accusatorily silent ghost—threatens to tear the couple apart rather than bring them together…Toyoji and Seki’s…spiritual and carnal unrest is forced out into the open, placed against the changing seasons of nature, and ultimately castigated by the increasingly militarized society around them. Oshima’s take on the Japanese tradition of kaidan (ghost story), Empire, with its crawling-in-the-mud sexuality and eccentric peasants, is also something of a stroll into fellow agitator Shôhei Imamura’s turf. Where Imamura warmly embraces the impulses of his characters, however, the ruthlessly analytical Oshima keeps his distance: The film’s circular motif (rickshaw wheels, the opening of the well into which the husband’s body is dumped) suggests less the continuous flow of life than a deterministic ring closing in on the main characters.” Fernando F. Croce

Links: IMDB Wikipedia

See Also: In the Realm of the Senses (Oshima, 1976)

Series: Autumn 2022 :: Nagisa Oshima