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Empire of Passion [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 18
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: StudioCanal (UK)
  • Run Time:
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 17, 2011
  • RRP: £22.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00525QGAG[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Nagisa Ôshima’s follow up to his controversial 1976 erotic film In the Realm of the Senses was 1978’s Empire of Passion. Returning to some of the same themes of eroticism, adultery and violence that informed its predecessor, Ôshima toned the latter down and added in elements of the supernatural, making it far more accessible to a wider audience.

Based on a true incident from Japan’s history, the story is set in 1895 and follows the story of two lovers, Seki (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) an older married woman and Toyoji (Tatsuya Fuji) the younger man she has an affair with. As the two allow themselves to give way to their passions, they plot to murder Seki’s husband, plying him with sake until he falls asleep drunk and they strangle him to death and throw his body down an old well. Telling everyone in the small village her husband has gone away to Tokyo for work, Seki and her young lover Toyoji allow themselves secret meetings to indulge in their affair, and all is well for three years, until the town grows suspicious when Gisaburo (Takahiro Tamura), Seki’s husband, never returns to visit. Finally, an officer of the law comes to investigate his disappearance and Gisaburo’s ghost begins haunting Seki relentlessly.

Unlike In the Realm of the Senses, after early on showing some eroticism, lulling the viewer into the sense that this follow up may well follow the same path as the much more explicit previous film, Empire of Passion focuses more on the guilt and mystery of Gisaburo’s disappearance, becoming a more typical, but hardly mundane, supernatural thriller.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Although at times this AVC encodement looks a bit heavily grained and shows some slight video noise in darker areas, I’d say that it has an overall film-like quality with nicely extended detail, good color reproduction and nuanced shadows. At times it may be just a tad soft and wanting of a bit more high frequency information, but it is a solid looking releases nonetheless.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

There is a lossless Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack provided that is clean with little crackle or hiss and pretty good dynamic range given its age.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

There’s not much here at all, and everything is in standard definition (PAL), but what is provided is very informative and interesting viewing.

The supplements:

  • Sur La Tournage (1.33:1; PAL; 00:13:07) – 2003 interview program featuring production consultant Koji Wakamatsu and assistant directors Yusuke Narita Yoichi Sai
  • Panel Discussion at Birbeck College (1.78:1; PAL; 00:53:21) – Featuring Japanese film scholars.
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Empire of Passion is a superb follow up to In the Realm of the Senses. After what was already a pretty lengthy career, Ôshima could easily have lapsed into being labelled no more than a pornographic director, which is hardly the case. Empire of Passion shows just how in touch with the human condition the director truly is and there isn’t a moment watching this film that one isn’t glued to the screen. This is an easy one to recommend.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00525QGAG[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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