In The Realm of The Senses

Nagisa Oshima is well known as one of Japan’s pioneer New Wave directors who pushed the boundaries of cinema during the 1960s and 1970s. His movie In the Realm of the Senses is a 1976 Franco-Japanese production based on a real-life 1930s tabloid headline. The film depicts a frenzied, sadomasochistic affair between former-prostitute Sada Abe and her employer/lover Kichizo Ishida. Oshima is known for the darkly sexual nature of his movies and this film is no exception: the relationship between the two characters is taboo, experimental, and eventually turns deadly. In the realm of the Senses has never been screened or even distributed uncut in Japan due to the on-screen, unsimulated sex scenes that permeate throughout the narrative. At its heart, the movie is less pornographic than one might think— the blatant sexual content of the film is used to underscore the social alienation and isolation felt by the characters with regards to Japanese society as a whole. The movie is a simultaneously shocking and heartbreaking look at what happens when an all too impassioned love implodes.

This review by Kat Mukai