Home  •  About  •  Contact  •  Twitter  •  Google+  •  Facebook  •  Tumblr  •  Youtube  •  RSS Feed
In The Realm Of The Senses

In The Realm Of The Senses

By Patrick Samuel • January 26th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Argos Films / Oshima Productions

Original release: September 15th, 1976
Running time: 101 minutes

Country of origin: Japan/France
Original language: Japanese

Writer and director: Nagisa Oshima
Composer: Yann Tiersen

Cast: Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda

In The Realm Of The Senses

In the throes of passion and at the edge of ecstasy we do nothing but embrace it with all our might, racing toward it with abandon, for the taste of that little moment… But yet a film like In the Realm of the Senses, which so beautifully depicts those moments, has been met with opposition since it was first released back in 1975. In the U.S. it was seized by customs and in the UK it suffered heavily from cuts and its edited version was only shown in private cinema clubs.

Based on a true story, Nagisa Oshima’s erotic horror In the Realm of the Senses is set in Tokyo in 1936 where Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) and Kichizo Ishida (Tatsuya Fuji) are about to begin one of the most sexually explicit affairs I’ve ever seen played out on screen. Sada, a former prostitute, arrives to work as a maid for Ishida, but when the shy and somewhat sexually repressed girl is molested by him, she finds that instead of being repulsed by the experience, she’s aroused by it. The pair begin an affair that pushes the boundaries of what some of us would claim is acceptable, not just for viewing but also practising in private with another consenting adult, yet I wonder how many of us secretly fantasise about it. The scenes are extremely arousing and are exquisitely captured here by Oshima.

In the Realm of the Senses

It wasn’t so much these scenes the censors had such a problem with though. It was the scene where Sada pulls on the penis of a young boy and the dilemma faced was whether or not it constituted as an ‘indecent’ image of a child under the terms of the newly introduced Protection of Children Act 1978. Given that In the Realm of the Senses was already a critically acclaimed film, from an established director, cutting the scene could have damaged its artistic merit:

“This posed a difficulty for the BBFC because the scene in question was pivotal to the audience’s understanding of the female protagonist’s shift from mere obsession to derangement. James Ferman therefore sought to alter the scene in such a way as to preserve its meaning, whilst removing any potentially ‘indecent’ image of a child. The best way to do this seemed to be by ‘optically reframing’ the end of the scene so that what was happening would be clear, whilst leaving any indecent image just off screen. The Board’s legal advisers agreed that, legally, the only matter with which the BBFC needed concern itself was ‘visual’ indecency, rather than ‘narrative’ indecency (ie what was seen on screen, rather than what was being implied).” ~ Students’ Board of British Film Classification, Case Studies: L’Empire des Sens (In The Realm Of The Senses)

This is the version we have here and although we don’t see it, we can infer what Sada is doing. It’s a pivotal scene as it highlights something about her character that is central to the story.

As their affair continues, Sada becomes obsessed with Ishida and she can’t get enough of him, she wants him inside of her all the time. When he sleeps, she holds his penis, as they walk together at night, she does the same. Eventually she makes him promise that she will be the only one he enters and forbids him from sex with his wife. Sada will execute a fitting punishment if he breaks his promise.

It is a beautiful film in my opinion, and the story is one of obsession but also of freedom and desire. In the Realm of the Senses makes us ask certain questions about sex and how far we would go if given the chance and I think this is what scares people the most, not how far the characters will go, but how far they themselves might go.

It’s much easier to ban, cut and destroy pieces of work like this than to ask ourselves these questions, but I leave it up to you to decide if In the Realm of the Senses is thought provoking pornography or just beautifully filmed sadomasochistic art.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

© 2022 STATIC MASS EMPORIUM . All Rights Reserved. Powered by METATEMPUS | creative.timeless.personal.   |   DISCLAIMER, TERMS & CONDITIONS