Empire of Passion (愛の亡霊 / Ai no bōrei)
Wednesday 27 October at 7.30pm
Nagisa Ōshima│Japan/France│1978│105 mins│R18 violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb
In 19th-century Japan, a young man’s attraction to an older married woman is so powerful that they will conspire to kill her husband – a provocative love story and revenge tale.
“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 bōrei). 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.” –Criterion.com
“[The lovers’] 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. (…) The less explicit of Nagisa Oshima’s arthouse scandals, Empire of Passion is a provocative, Eros-and-Thanatos assault in its own right.” – Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine