In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
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Critic Reviews for In the Realm of the Senses
Unsanitised, worryingly convincing in its sadomasochistic detail, this is seriously provocative cinema, a telling reminder of what it really means to be dangerous.
This particular consideration of mutual possession which approaches and then transcends death is well-paced and, within story possibilities, -acted as well.
That graphic sexual expression is the narrative currency Oshima uses to explicate a connection between sex and death only adds to the film's incalculable power to provoke, offend, frighten, and spellbind its audience.
Oshima holds nothing back. Yet watching the couple's constant lovemaking is the very opposite of erotic. Which may very well be the point. Sada and Kichizo's fantasy world is strictly private; it doesn't just shut out society, it excludes the viewer too.
Audience Reviews for In the Realm of the Senses
Famed for the controversy it caused upon its original release, Nagisa Oshima's 'In the Realm of the Senses' was, for a long time, only spoken about in hushed voices, confined to a world of perpetual slicing and dicing by the censors and never truly available in its graphic entirety. It's been thirty-four years and the film has at long last received an unedited pass by the BBFC, allowing audiences to finally be subjected to something like which they have never seen before, and for many, may never want to see again. The film is based on the true story of Sada Abe (played here by Eiko Matsuda), a Japanese woman who acquired fame for killing her lover, Kichizo Ishida (Tatsuya Fuji) via erotic asphyxiation before cutting off his penis and testicles to carry around in her handbag.
Undoubtedly the most striking thing in ITROFTS is the graphic, increasingly obscene, real sex that the story centers around. Oshima has no boundaries when it comes to showing his actors entangled amongst one another, and this, for many will seem unnecessary and overly pornographic. For those able to view it objectively however, it will add another dimension of realism to both the narrative and performances that is scarcely found.
Despite its graphic nature and unrelentingly brutal sexuality there is also a sense of profound beauty throughout the film, brought upon it by the perfectly composed shots and melancholic traditional Japanese music that plays in the background. A sense of limbo accompanies said beauty and causes viewers to feel as if they are, much like Sada and Kichizo themselves, lost in the realm of the senses, victims of both visions of beauty and pain, yet unable to tell the two apart.
Although effective, this sense of limbo is also accountable for some of the film's issues with pacing and plot, which often feels as if it is lost amongst the overriding eroticism Oshima was clearly more focused on. Overall, In the Realm of the Senses is a love it or hate it film, which, even if you do love, is impossible to recommend without looking slightly odd.
A beautiful, but very adult, film. The story is very powerful and kinda crazy, but I think it was actually based on a true story! An excellent movie about obsession.
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