Nagisa Oshima

Empire of Passion

Empire of Passion

With an arresting mix of eroticism and horror, Oshima plunges the viewer into a nightmarish tale of guilt and retribution in Empire of Passion (Ai no borei). Set in a Japanese village at the end of the nineteenth century, the film details the emotional and physical downfall of a married woman and her younger lover following their decision to murder her husband and dump his body in a well. Empire of Passion was Oshima’s only true kaidan (Japanese ghost story), and the film, a savage, unrelenting experience, earned him the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Film Info

  • Nagisa Oshima
  • Japan
  • 1978
  • 105 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.66:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #467

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Double Obsession: Seki, Sada, and Oshima, a new video essay by film historian and critic Catherine Russell
  • New interviews with actors Kazuo Yoshiyuki and Tatsuya Fuji
  • An interview program from 2003 featuring production consultant Koji Wakamatsu and assistant directors Yusuke Narita and Yoichi Sai
  • U.S. trailer
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns and a 1978 interview with Nagisa Oshima

New cover by Neil Kellerhouse

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Double Obsession: Seki, Sada, and Oshima, a new video essay by film historian and critic Catherine Russell
  • New interviews with actors Kazuo Yoshiyuki and Tatsuya Fuji
  • An interview program from 2003 featuring production consultant Koji Wakamatsu and assistant directors Yusuke Narita and Yoichi Sai
  • U.S. trailer
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns and a 1978 interview with Nagisa Oshima

New cover by Neil Kellerhouse

Empire of Passion
Cast
Tatsuya Fuji
Toyoji
Kazuko Yoshiyuki
Seki
Takahiro Tamura
Gisaburo
Takuzo Kawatani
Officer Hotta
Masami Hasegawa
Shin
Akiko Koyama
Landowner’s mother
Taiji Tonoyama
Toichiro
Credits
Director
Nagisa Oshima
Producer
Anatole Dauman
Screenplay
Nagisa Oshima
Based on a book by
Itoko Nakamura
Cinematography
Yoshio Miyajima
Lighting
Kenichi Okamoto
Editing
Keiichi Uraoka
Music
Toru Takemitsu
Production design
Jusho Toda
Sound
Tetsuo Yasuda
Sound
Alex Pront
Production consultant
Koji Wakamatsu

From The Current

Oshima’s Erotic Horror in Austin

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Oshima’s Erotic Horror in Austin

Nagisa Oshima followed up his succès de scandale In the Realm of the Senses with this Cannes award–winning ghost story, playing this week at the Austin Film Society.

On Film / In Theaters
Apr 12, 2018
IN THE REALM OF JAMES QUANDT

Close Criterion collaborator and friend James Quandt, longtime senior programmer at the Cinematheque Ontario and whose theatrical traveling retrospectives are always major events in the film world, is in the spotlight this week in a new, far-reaching…


Jun 12, 2009
Nagisa Oshima on
In the Realm of the Senses

The following article, based on an interview with Nagisa Oshima conducted by Katsue Tomiyama in April 1983, first appeared, in slightly longer form, in the Japanese magazine Image Forum. Tomiyama is a film producer and cofounder of Image Forum, and s


May 1, 2009
In the Realm of the Senses:
Some Notes on Oshima and Pornography

The concept of “obscenity” is tested when we dare to look at something that we desire to see but have forbidden ourselves to look at. When we feel that everything has been revealed, “obscenity” disappears and there is a certain liberation. Wh…

By Donald Richie


May 1, 2009
Empire of Passion: Love’s Phantom

At the request of the author, Japanese names in this essay are given in their traditional form: surname first. When Oshima Nagisa began making films for the French producer Anatole Dauman in the mid-1970s, his career as a filmmaker had been on hold …

By Tony Rayns


Apr 28, 2009
Empire of Passion:
Interview with Nagisa Oshima

This interview, conducted by Michael Henry, first appeared in the May 1978 issue of Positif. What were the circumstances that brought you to the project Empire of Passion? This film is very tightly linked to Senses. Isn’t it the fate of a creat…


Apr 24, 2009

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Toru Takemitsu

Composer

Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, known to Western listeners predominantly as the man behind the music in such iconic movies as Woman in the Dunes and Ran, was an acclaimed classical composer and music theorist well before he became one of his country’s most reliably brilliant scorers of film. A noted musical avant-gardist in midcentury Japanese intellectual circles, as influenced by jazz as by Debussy, Takemitsu first turned to feature film composing when he was commissioned (along with Masaru Sato) to write the hip, twangy-guitar-inflected score for the Ko Nakahira youth flick Crazed Fruit (1956). It wasn’t until a few years later, though, when his friend Hiroshi Teshigahara asked him to score Teshigahara’s short debut film, José Torres (1959), that Takemitsu’s career in movies truly began. The deeply sympathetic working relationship that they discovered on that project resulted in Takemitsu’s providing the haunting, instrumentally jarring themes for virtually all of Teshigahara’s subsequent output (“He was always more than a composer,” Teshigahara would recall. “He involved himself so thoroughly in every aspect of a film—script, casting, location shooting, editing, and total sound design”). Takemitsu became a go-to guy for many other major Japanese filmmakers as well, including Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri), Akira Kurosawa (Dodes’ka-den), and Nagisa Oshima (Empire of Passion); his themes remain some of the most beautiful, spectral music ever written for the screen.