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Empire of Passion (The Criterion Collection) (1978)

Tatsuya Fuji , Takuzo Kawatani , Nagisa Oshima  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Empire of Passion (The Criterion Collection) + In the Realm of the Senses (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Fuji, Takuzo Kawatani, Akiko Koyama, Takahiro Tamura, Taiji Tonoyama
  • Directors: Nagisa Oshima
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001PYD0M0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,326 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Empire of Passion (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

An exceedingly beautiful film. --New York Times

Product Description

Still censored in its own country, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), by Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, remains one of the most controversial films of all time. A graphic portrayal of insatiable sexual desire, Oshima s film, set in 1936 and based on a true incident, depicts a man and a woman (Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda) consumed by a transcendent, destructive love while living in an era of ever escalating imperialism and governmental control. Less a work of pornography than of politics, In the Realm of the Senses is a brave, taboo-breaking milestone.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
New audio commentary with film scholar Tony Rayns
New interview with actor Tatsuya Fuji
A 1976 interview with director Nagisa Oshima and actors Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, and a 2003 program featuring interviews with consulting producer Hayao Shibata, line producer, Koji Wakamatsu, assistant director Yoichi Sai, and film distributor Yoko Asakura
Deleted footage
U.S. trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie and a reprinted interview with Oshima

Winner: Best Director, 1978 Cannes Film Festival

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(7)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Winner of the best director award in the Cannes film festival in 1978, and seen as a companion film to "In the Realm of the Senses", Nagisa Oshima's "Empire of Passion" is based on the book by Toko Nakamura and produced in France. At first look, the film looks a like your run-of-the-mill Japanese horror film in the tradition of "Onibaba" and "Kwaidan", but "Empire of Passion" is much more. It is an erotic melodrama that uses horror elements, and has very strong commentary about desire, sexual independence, fallen women, social relations and political resistance.

Japan 1895, in a small Japanese village, a comely woman named Seki (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) is married to a rickshaw driver named Gisaburo (Takahiro Tamura). Seki is a lot older than she looks, she barely looks 30, and is only a few years younger than her husband; they have two kids and although they lead a hard life, they seem content. Her youthful features make her the apple of the eyes of an ex-soldier named Toyoji (Tatsuya Fuji). The two develop a friendship, often flirting, until Toyoji forces himself on Seki. Seki tries to fight him off but eventually gives in, and the two begin a forbidden affair. The couple plots to kill Gisaburo and to throw his body in an old well, but this crime would carry a heavy toll on the guilt-ridden lovers. A constable named Hotta (Takuzo Kawatani) is finally drawn by suspicion because of the rumors around the townsfolk, and to make matters worst, Gisaburo's ghost begins to haunt Seki...

"Empire of Passion" may carry strong elements of horror, the film only uses this as a backdrop. The film's main premise is very simple, but it is structured well around the destruction by one's succumbing to passion.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
There appears to be some confusion over just which film is being reviewed here. Most of the comments I am reading appear to be about the film "In the Realm of the Senses", but the product link is for the film "Empire of Passion", which is by the same director but is a different film altogether, although it is perhaps the director's response to the criticism leveled on the earlier, more explicit film. I am not sure if the reviewers themselves are confused about which film they are reviewing, or if somehow Amazon is tying the wrong reviews to this film, but be advised that there is a problem here.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some sins won't rest in peace June 1, 2009
Format:DVD
Empire of Passion, directed by Nagisa Oshima, floats well above the heap of kaidan films that lately seem to placate the genre. An identical American remake for this one is doubtful, primarily because this doesn't thrive on cheap scares and/or gory visuals. This is a slower-paced, moody ghost story that attempts to haunt you on a more psychological level.

It takes place in a late 19th century Japanese village. This story simmers on themes of temptation, guilt, and retribution. Seki and her secret lover, Toyoji, plot to kill Seki's husband and toss his body in a well. Some lies simply won't stay buried.

This action causes town gossip, police investigations, bad dreams, and eventually some haunting visions.

Empire of Passion is a subtle mixture of eroticism and horror. No angry ghosts leaping out of closets. No decaying corpses spewing blood and puss. Plus the sex scenes aren't especially graphic. But it utilizes the less-is-more technique to near perfection, landing Oshima a Best Director award at the '78 Cannes Film Festival. It never quite reaches the stunning, creepy status of ONIBABA, nor does it have the exquisite cinematography as displayed in UGETSU. But still this is a stellar ghost film, just waiting to be savagedly butchered by an American remake.

SIDE NOTE: Most of the reviews on this product page seem to be for the more controversial, erotic film IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES? Weird.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This film is a visual masterpiece. The whole movie is done in a small village, with almost all the interior scenes in one room in a small country hut, yet you think you have taken a voyage there so talented is the director in shooting the scenes in angles that make you feel you are living the experience rather than viewing. The forest and fields are amazing, the change of seasons and hours of the day, even the way that the water falls in the basin in the hut is poetry.
Winner of the best director award in the Cannes film festival in 1978, the story is built on an erotic melodrama combined with a ghost story horror elements. It takes place in Japan circa 1895, in a small village, an attractive woman named Seki (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) is married to a rickshaw driver , Gisaburo (Takahiro Tamura) who is clearly older, and disillusioned with his life. Although they have two children and lead a hard life, they seem content, though we see very quickly into the film that Seki is more than ready for an adventure to bring some inspiration into the dullness of her life. Her youthful features make her the target of the attentions of a retired soldier, Toyoji (Tatsuya Fuji) who happens to look extremely attractive in his black military jacket with no shirt and a sexy mustache. The two develop a flirtation, until it leads to Toyoji raping Seki in one of his visits. She tries to fight him off but it feels too good and not even the crying from her infant son can distract her from this fatal attraction, so she succumbs, and the two begin a passionate, sexually intense affair. Obviously Toyoji has had a lot more experience in life and he manipulates Seki into joining forces with him to kill her husband.
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