Special Series
Free, Shuji Terayama

The Fruits of Passion


Directed by: Shūji Terayama
1981 / 86 minutes / R 18+

Erotic art-house fare with a political backdrop

The lecherous and wealthy Sir Stephen (Klaus Kinski) sends his young lover O (Isabelle Illiers) to a brothel in Southern China, so she can prove her unconditional love and obedience to him. While O is subjected to a variety of erotically humiliating and misogynistic experiences in this surreally pittoresque environment, a local rebellion stemming from resentment towards foreign imperialism arises, and an impoverished young man joins the revolution just to afford a night with O.

Loosely based on the novel Return to the Château by Anne Desclos, which was written as a sequel to the Story of O, this sexually explicit drama by Terayama and mainstream French producer Anatole Dauman (In the Realm of the Senses) relocates the original characters from Paris to 1920s Southern China. The film’s collateral vignettes, together with rainbow-filtered scenes focusing on other, more captivating characters from the brothel, are used by Terayama to cleverly depict his idea of sex as a form of political revenge.

Audience warning: Explicit sexual content

Tuesday 2nd November

Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra

Sunday 14th November

Palace James Street, Brisbane

Sunday 28th November

The Chauvel Cinema, Sydney

Sunday 5th December

ACMI, Melbourne

Screens in: Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne

Director: Shūji Terayama

Cast: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Illiers, Arielle Dombasle and Pîtâ

Genre: Special Series

Category: Free, Shuji Terayama

Language(s): French, Japanese, English & Cantonese with English subtitles

Format: 35mm colour

This film is part of JFF 2021’s Special Series which honours the prolific and multifaceted artistic career of Shūji Terayama (1935-1983). From the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, Angura (underground) theatre, which imported ‘freak show’ elements, twisted eroticsm and the reinstatement of folklore that had been excluded from modern theatre, reached its zenith in Japan as an anti-establishment movement.  Terayama founded the internationally acclaimed theatre troop ‘Tenjō Sajiki’, and was at the centre of this experimental scene. However, his creation was not limited to theatre, and as a filmmaker, poet and social and cultural commentator, he was a leading figure in the ‘expanded cinema’ being explored in post-WWII Japan.

This program presents a handful of the late auteur’s short and feature-length cinematic work showcasing his signature transgressive approach to filmmaking. From dismantling concepts of time, history and myth to visually audacious portrayals of sexual and political revolution–these films are at once unexpectedly beautiful and discomforting.