At once a companion film to Ai no Corrida and a compulsive reaction against it: the dominant themes here are guilt, repression and censorship. It's set in rural Japan, around the turn of the century, and it centres on a crime passionel: the murder of an elderly rickshaw-man by his wife and her lover, a soldier recently discharged from the army. But the couple are literally haunted by their crime (in the person of the old man's ghost), cannot separate themselves from their own society, and finally pay for their crime at the hands of a grotesquely cruel policeman. It now seems obvious that the film expressed Oshima's reaction to the worldwide 'scandal' generated by Ai no Corrida, but it's worth remembering that while he made it, Oshima was undergoing a prosecution in Japan for publishing the script of his previous film. His hatred of the 'authority' figure here reaches heights unseen since Death by Hanging.
Empire of Passion
Cast and crew