Banned around the world, Oshima's extraordinary tale of sexual obsession remains equally shocking over 30 years since it's notorious release - this explicit study of love and death was so controversial in Japan that cans of film were smuggled to France to be processed.
Set in 1936, Oshima's erotic masterpiece tells the story of Sada (Eiko Matsuda), a beautiful young geisha who draws the attention of the handsome Kichizo (Tatsuya Fuji), a brothel owner's arrogant, sexually prodigious husband. Oblivious to a brutal war unfolding around them, the couple's initial flirtation soon turns to all-consuming passion, a frenzied and fatal love-making rite. As the New York Times wrote: "Tatsuya Fuji has a haunting gentleness and passivity as he comes to recognise his destiny: to be literally loved to death."
Oshima's masterwork combines gorgeous cinematography, brilliant performances and incendiary erotic power.
Empire of the Passions (1978)
The follow-up to Nagisa Oshima's notorious In The Realm of the Senses, this sublime period drama also stars the brilliant Tatsuya Fuji as an ex-soldier and adulterer whose ardent affair with the wife of an elderly rickshaw driver enamours the pair in mystery and murder. Despite the steamy sex scenes (though less explicit than In the Realm of the Senses) and horror shocks, the mood is mournful and tender, with Oshima blending film noir, ghost-story and detailed period imagery to make this one of his most accessible and entertaining works. Having been overshadowed by its more infamous predecessor, this sensual, provocative and visually rich film - which earned Oshima the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival (it was also nominated for the Golden Palm) - is due for rediscovery.
"Cinema and Censorship: The films of Nagisa Oshima": a discussion with Melbourne based filmmaker and writer Solrun Hoaas
"Recalling the Film" featurette
"Sur Le Tournage (On Set)” featurette
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