Watch now

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available


Criterion Collection: Empire of Passion [DVD] [1978] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Tatsuya Fuji , Kazuko Yoshiyuki , Nagisa ‘shima    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Looking for Bargains?
Check out the DVD & Blu-ray Deals of the Week page to find this week's price-drops. Deals of the Week end on Sunday at 23:59.

Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details). Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Product details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Fuji, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takahiro Tamura, TakuzŰ Kawatani, Akiko Koyama
  • Directors: Nagisa ‘shima
  • Writers: Nagisa ‘shima, Itoko Nakamura
  • Producers: Anatole Dauman
  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 28 April 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001PYD0M0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,814 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3 star
2 star
1 star
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guilt, Retribution and Redemption 5 Aug 2007
Stunning insights into Japanese culture and social conventions.
Culturally bound but demonstrating how easily we slip into crime.
How guilt drives the need to admit our crime, reveals how hard it is to keep a secret.
Watch and sympathise with any time you have ever done wrong.
But it's a story so we don't need to feel bad do we?
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great film 28 Aug 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Having seen other films from the same stable this "Empire of Passion" does not let you down. I just please this genre is available today.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oshima's Companion Film to "In the Realm of the Senses" 12 Jun 2009
By Woopak - Published on
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. As I've mentioned, Oshima intended this film as a companion film to his "In the Realm of the Senses", they have similar themes of fallen women, both have a strong social commentary, and both films express the idea that desire may lead to destruction. The main characters of Sada and Kichi in the film "In the Realm of the Senses" carry parallels to Tomoji and Seki's characters in this film. The two pairs from two different films experience uncontrollable desire and lust that ultimately leads to their destruction. Both films are subtle in the commentaries against a totalitarian rule, and are both controversial in their themes of sexuality with women more seen as victims.

While "In the Realm of the Senses" express voyeurism within the supporting characters, (geishas and cleaning women; even Sada watches Kichi make love to his wife), the townsfolk in "Empire of Passion" are the kind that gets repulsed by an affair; they gossip and talk about Seki and Toyoji, they renounced the suspected affair but they enjoy talking about it. Both films make a powerful commentary of female sexuality. Seki is a woman caught in the heat of the moment, she refuses but her body gives in to Toyoji's sexual advances. It was quite interesting and the film received widespread criticism when Toyoji rapes Seki while her son Isichi is crying in the other room. Seki's body betrays her and she ends up giving in. Yes, the film contains graphic displays of sexual intercourse but very TAME when compared to "In the Realm of the Senses". Matsuda and Fuji who played Sada and Kichi in Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses" were actually 'doing' it while Fuji and Yoshiyuki in this film only had simulated sex scenes. Toyoji;s scene with Seki's `shaving' signifies a change of ownership which may be the reason as to why Seki shed tears when Toyoji shaved her private area. Their most erotic scene together maybe the scene when Seki and Toyoji are almost totally covered in mud, until they are caught naked by the constables. All these factors express an ideology to rebel against authority and to make a statement against the expectations of society. While both of Oshima's films express the idea that the law triumphs over desire, it does provide a balance to its indictment of adultery--when the two lovers are tortured by the constables, Oshima expresses a powerful indictment of the wrongs done by some authority figures to lowly folk.

This film does have its share of unsettling scenes which enforces its supernatural backdrop. The film is beautifully shot and the cinematography by Yoshio Miyajima looks very good. The shots by Oshima give the Japanese town a certain characteristic that adds to the film's characterization. Oshima also intentionally shoots the folks who gossip as either having their back turned, or their heads turned slightly sideways--to express the idea that gossips are damaging to one's character (true or not) and that there is no way to root out the source. The ghostly scenes looked very surreal and has that ominous feeling of dread, that you know something horrible is about to happen. As with classic films of Japanese horror, the ghost in "Empire of Passion" has the ability to interact, eat and drink. Gisaburo's ghost may mean no harm to Seki, and all he may want is to live in his own house. "Onibaba" obviously has influenced this film, as displayed by the well. I also thought that it was curious to see the autumn leaves being thrown into the well. Oshima also shows the passage of time through the seasons.

"Empire of Passion" may falter if you look at it from a horror perspective, the film wasn't supposed to be scary but more of an erotic melodrama. The actual antagonist is the situation itself and our protagonists' uncontrollable desire, its consequences expressed by karma. The film was also criticized by being too conventional, and doesn't have that Japanese feel to it, funny, conventional storytelling was began by the Japanese. The one flaw I can say about the film is that it began to lose gas near the end, that some scenes felt a little too stretched out. The film is definitely "kaidan" in its nature, and fans of classic films like "Onibaba" and "Ugetsu" will no doubt enjoy the film. The film carries elements of a traditional Japanese ghost story with strong social commentary about sexual transgressions, accompanied by eroticism. Those impressed with Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses" owe it to themselves to see "Empire of Passion". This film is a lot tamer than Oshima's highly controversial film, but it just makes it easier to connect with. After all, how can you resist an erotic film with supernatural elements?

Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many of these reviews are for a different film altogether - reader beware 18 May 2010
By A music lover - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some sins won't rest in peace 1 Jun 2009
By C. Christopher Blackshere - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Story Not for the Faint of Heart/Obsessive, Spicy Love story bonus 12 Aug 2009
By Alberto M. Barral - Published on
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. The murder scene occurs after she has been serving her husband food and drink all night and he has collapsed totally drunk, what follows is a quick, almost painless strangulation that is pretty quickly over, followed by a very laborious effort in dragging the body to a well in the woods where they throw it, all done in the middle of a snowstorm. I am sorry to report that we feel more sympathy for them than for the dead husband. While he seemed defeated and resigned to a life of hardship these two criminal lovers have an enduring, maddening attachment to each other that is very touching. One can not but think how happy they would have been had they lived in a different environment where divorce was possible. They are happy together for three years and suddenly, out of nowhere and with no prior warning, the ghost of Gisaburo comes back and starts wrecking their lives.
The interventions of the ghost are some of the most beautiful scenes in the movie: The fog around him when he carries the rickshaw, the pallor in his face and hands, the crazed reactions of Seki, it's what makes the movie an exquisite experience to watch and we await breathlessly for the next time he is going to appear.
The love scenes are intense but in no way pornographic, however I have read in one of the reviews that there is a discrepancy between the time period in the DVD box and the actual running time. I will see the movie again just to check on this detail, as I REALLY have an issue with censorship, particularly of the sexual type when consenting adults are paying to see what they think, and have every right to think, is a complete version.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oshima Nagisa's Departed Spirit of Love... 14 Jun 2009
By B.E.F. - Published on
Oshima Nagisa's Empire of Passion...
The Japanese title of this film directly translated into English is rendered, The Departed Spirit of Love (Eros).

I saw this Cannes Palme d'Or winner at the theatre in San Francisco, 1978.
At that time it was certainly an avant garde art-film. There seems to be much confusion of this work, so to set the record straight:

The story takes place in c.1920s Japan somewhere not far from Tokyo. It involves an older rickshaw runner married to a sexy thirty-something woman. They have an older daughter and a toddler son.
Rickshaw man runs daily to Tokyo, and the daughter is sent to school there as well. (Here are issues of historical counter-fact: for in the film they live in an house a bit too nice, and there was little formal female education at that time; but this is fiction, so suspend disbelief.)
In steps soldier-boy--a younger man having finished his term of military service. Needless to say, younger man and older woman become lovers. The sex scenes are not graphic but highly erotic: (pubic shaving and cunnilingus were not so common on film then as now...)
The couple contrive to murder rickshaw man and dump his body in a dry well.
Later they are tormented by their crime and eventually denounced by the daughter. Under duress, the couple confess and are executed.
The film is shot in rich dark colours which capture the ambient atmosphere of early-Modern Japan.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
What region 1 1 Jul 2011
See all discussions...  
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions

Look for similar items by category