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In the Realm of the Senses

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)


No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 5,468

My Rating

Movie Info

Based upon a true incident in 1930s Japan, Nagisa Oshima's controversial film effectively skirts the borderline between pornography and art -- making Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris of four years earlier look like children's programming in comparison. The story concerns servant and former prostitute Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) who becomes sexually obsessed with her employer Kizicho (Tatsuya Fuji), a businessman, after seeing him making love to his wife. After making love to Sada, Kizicho


Drama, Romance, Art House & International

Nagisa Oshima

Apr 25, 2000


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All Critics (38) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (5) | DVD (14)

Unsanitised, worryingly convincing in its sadomasochistic detail, this is seriously provocative cinema, a telling reminder of what it really means to be dangerous.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This particular consideration of mutual possession which approaches and then transcends death is well-paced and, within story possibilities, -acted as well.

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

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.

November 27, 2011 Full Review Source:

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.

October 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

Declaring yourself bored by a movie full of explicit sex may sometimes mark you out as a dreary pseudo-sophisticate, but in this case it's fair enough.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

I still find In the Realm of the Senses impressive but it now puzzles and worries me.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Ai No Corrida is an undeniably powerful, stylish and impressive piece of work.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

As the soundtrack moans in sympathy while the deep crimson colours dazzle in delirium, the entire movie comes desperately close to approximating the pell-mell emotional turmoil of sex itself. Not porn, sex.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

One of the most extraordinary moments in screen history. Oshima's film widens and deepens the sensual realm.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

A graphic and extremely disturbing exploration of lust and love that deserves its reputation as a classic of world cinema.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

It was made 33 years ago but Nagisa Oshima's doomed lust classic doesn't look in the least bit dusty. Quite the opposite.

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

I can only imagine critics at the initial screening ... marveling at a 20-foot penis taking up the entire screen: "Oh yeah, that totally represents the patriarchy."

July 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Like his characters, Oshima is determined to explore and transgress sexual boundaries, if they even exist, by posing a challenge to conventional morality. [Blu-ray]

June 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

quickly becomes as monotonous as bluenoses accuse it of being prurient

May 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

To paraphrase a crack from Pauline Kael: light the incense, perverts.

April 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Baring much more than bodies, Oshima delves deeply into subconscious carnal desires under the influence of society, and the eternal human contradictions between liberating sexual impulses and erotic enslavement.

April 12, 2009 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

It's more sensational than it is artistically interesting.

June 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

At best it's a thinking person's XXX flick; at worst it's as repetitive as a porn video.

April 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

Oshima's extraordinary tale of sexual obsession remains shocking 30 years later.

March 17, 2004

In her essay, "A Theory on Female Sexuality" (1966), American psychiatrist Mary Jane Sherfey noted that "the strength of the [sex] drive determines the force required to suppress it."

May 8, 2003 Full Review
Critics Inc./America Online

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.
December 22, 2013
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2013
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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.
January 3, 2011

Super Reviewer

Fascinating tale of two lovers who become so obsessed with each other that it eventually consumes them. I lost count as to how many times this couple had sex but it was a LOT. If there ever was a film that could have benefited from a little 'product placement' of Viagra, this would be that film.
January 7, 2009
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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