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 (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) and her younger lover (Tatsuya Fuji) 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. —The Criterion Collection
Nagisa Oshima’s career extends from the initiation of the “Nuberu bagu” (New Wave) movement in Japanese cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to the contemporary use of cinema and television to express paradoxes in modern society. After an early involvement with the student protest movement in Kyoto, Oshima rose rapidly in the Shochiku company from the status of apprentice in 1954 to that of director. By 1960, he had grown disillusioned with the traditional studio production policies and broke away from Shochiku to form his own independent production company, Sozosha, in 1965. With other Japanese New Wave filmmakers like Masahiro Shinoda, Shohei Imamura and Yoshishige Yoshida, Oshima reacted against the humanistic style and subject matter of directors like Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, as well as against established left-wing political movements. Oshima has been primarily concerned with depicting the contradictions and tensions of postwar Japanese society. His… read more
Vastly underrated, but I think this is one of Oshima's best. The naturalistic setting is beautiful, yet there is always a sense of menace, which eventually leads to violence. If "Senses" was about sex as liberation from society, the characters in "Empire" does not even have that escape, since their desires are haunted by a ghost. Despite the dark subject matter, this film is filled with cinematic pleasures.
a breathtaking, dark fantasy with a haunting score. There are scenes in this film that are completely silent, but will leave you with chills. The depiction of the ghost (kaidan) is very well done and creepier than any Western ghost I've ever seen in cinema. The story is perfectly paced, never having a dull moment, and it always has you on the edge of your seats. Perfectly done. I cant wait to see "senses"
The 62nd Locarno International Film Festival has wrapped tonight with its awards ceremony and the world premiere of Byambasuren Davaa
By the mid-70s, the pillar native genres of American cinema, such as film noir, had found a new life in Japan. This has been attributed to the movies screened for Japanese POWs during WWII, but the… read review