Original title: Ai no corrida

Director: Nagisa Oshima

Cast: Eiko Matsuda, Tatsuya Fuji, Aoi Nakajima, Taiji Tonoyama

Japan-France 1975 | Colour | 101 mins | Drama

Avaliable on: 35mm

Probably the most famous erotic film ever made, Oshima’s masterpiece yields a fascinating conundrum: it’s sexually explicit, but is finally more about the mind than the body.

Oshima rose to the challenge of creating a genuinely grown-up ‘adult movie’ by reinterpreting Japan’s most famous sex-crime. In 1936, Kichizo, an innkeeper in the Tokyo suburbs, left his wife and began a torrid affair with one of his employees, a young woman named Sada. When Kichizo died in an erotic climax and Sada was put on trial for his murder, the ‘crime’ gripped the entire nation. Sensuously scored and designed, Oshima’s film stays close to the facts but exalts the power of the imagination. He shows the lovers retreating from the world into their own sexual fantasies – and finds everything from childish play and Oedipal passions to a secret death-wish at the heart of those fantasies. Desire has never seemed more dangerous.

– Tony Rayns