After their passion-fueled sexual exploits reach a peak, Seki, a peasant woman, and her young lover,Toyoji, conspire to murder her husband and throw his body down an abandoned well. Soon after, Seki begins to see visions of her husband, Gisaburo, as her guilt begins to overwhelm her. Nagisa Oshima's Empire of Passion does not focus on eroticism and it's relationship to violence nearly as much as his previous film, In the Realm of Senses, instead opting to focus on the aftermath, and how passion can be a truly destructive force. Although Gisaburo is barely in the film before dying, Oshima uses the opening credits to help the viewer understand this man. We see Gisaburo slaving away, dragging his rickshaw through the plains, on his way home. It's clear that Gisaburo works countless hours to support his family, which only gives his death, and Seki's mounting guilt, more resonance. Directly after Gisaburo's murder, Seki is instantly effected by her rash decision, even saying "I can't believe we went through with this". It's clear that Seki let her physical passion cloud her judgement. This is Seki's film, and the way her guilt slowly consumes her is a beautiful character transformation to watch. She is deeply haunted, seeing visions of her husband, which can be quite creepy and feature some really nice haunting imagery. In a way, this is one of Oshima's most accesible films, in that it's basically a Ghost story about one womans guilt. It's not a favorite of his, but it's still a strong film.
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