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on 21 April 2002
A remarkable story, told at a gentle pace, building through the layers of sexual obsession as the two principal characters, Kichi-zo and his lover, Sada, become embroiled in an erotic search for release from the everyday oppression of 1930's Japanese society. As the story approaches its violent and deeply sad conclusion (based on an actual murder case) they find themselves increasingly isolated from the expectations of family, lovers and peers and they both come to realise that emotional satisfaction and sexual fulfilment do not go hand in glove. The story is laced with comedy - the treatment of the attendant geisha for example and does well to create the feeling of life in a ryokan or Japanese Inn. The film gained notoriety for the explicitness of the in-your-face sex and serves perhaps as a object lesson in the differences between pornography and film-art.
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2003
Yes, this is explicit, but if you're simply after pornography, you can get more bangs for your buck elsewhere: this isn't a slideshow of silicon-enhanced babes and improbably-endowed studs. It's an exploration of sexual passion; the thrill, the joy, the overwhelming power. With pornography you're watching geysers spurt. With this film, you're swimming in the sea, happily splashing about in the waves - then before you know it, you're looking at a tsunami hurtling towards you...
By the end you amy well be torn between wanting the type of relationship portrayed and never wanting sex again! The film takes us to that deep and scarey place inside ourselves that few acknowledge and even fewer ever visit.
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on 22 March 2007
A very important piece of information that also needs to be added to these reviews, is that this story is completely true.

It happened in 1936, at a time when such actions becoming public would normally shock any society. Abe however was treated with mercy (given her fragile mental state), and after the initial shock died down, she became quite a female hero in her country.

I'm frankly appalled by some reviews I've read in other places that compare this to legal porn and nothing more, as they are totally missing the point of it!

Even if you had never seen any other film in your life, you could see the technical and emotional effort that goes into making a film like this compared to "cheap porn".

In fact, the two lead actors were quite negatively affected emotionally and physically, (yes, they really did begin to waste away like that, they were mentally damaged by the experience, which proves the devotion they had to portraying their characters well).

You cannot tell a true story without showing events that really happened, so the sex scenes you see, (which were not faked by the way...well, apart from the asphyxiation obviously) were necessary to show the depth of the obsession that had formed between the couple. Unlike films like 9 Songs, which include such things, and then shout about the "realness" of the pointless sex scenes, just to get attention for their otherwise cowardly, artless film.

Ai No Corrida (In The Realm Of The Senses...how it's known in Japan, and how you may find it written on the DVD case) is beautifully shot, the music is perfect and unobtrusive, the actors genuinely brave and the fact that the story is true makes the things you see even more touching.

Forget the typically Western reactions you will have read in newspapers and magazines when this was at last released after 32 years in 2001, and open your mind to a touching true story.
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on 11 May 2012
And when you buy more films from the director to see other films he has done. In the Realm of Senses is one of those. Does it have pornographic images? Yes! It goes so far in showing sexual intercourse that many of the scenes could be taken out of a porn film, BUT and this is a huge but. These scenes are very very important and the film would not have worked without them. Here is a film where explicit sexual scenes are not an excuse to but necessity. Also, sex has probably never been filmed in such a beautiful way.

The whole film is in fact a fascinating love story. It is based on a true story about what any normal person would call insanity but Nagisa Ôshima manages so well to show us their own logic that the whole thing becomes a mixture of beauty and terror.

The Blu Ray transfer is perfect, both sound and image and this is the uncensored version.

If you are easily offended then stay away, but if you like challenging and artistic films that stay with you for a long time then this should be on the top of your list.
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on 14 June 2007
Wow, it is so sad. I couldn't stop crying. It is undoubtedly a shock at first, being not at all used to seeing sex displayed so obviously on the screen. But, well I mean we are all mostly no strangers to the sexual act. So after you get over the initial embarrassment, the film is very deeply touching.

The actors are extremely convincing, even taking into account the poker-faced, non-expression that the japanese seem to practise. You see them spiralling down, further and further into the danger of addiction, of it never being enough, always needing more, a heftier kick. A gigantic itch that gets worse the more you scratch. It is so terribly sad because you know they will destroy each other with their love and desire and there's nothing you, or they can do to stop it.
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on 14 March 2007
The realm of the senses is a superb film that manages to show beauty in the most unexpected ways: gerontophilia, sexual obession, pornography and many more taboo subjects are treated in the film and conveyed with such good taste and elegance that one is left speechless at the end of the film. It is a pure visual spectacle with a great soundtrack and a good simple storyline. A film that I watch at least once a year.
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on 24 July 2012
Excellent film that shocked the public and the censors in 1970s.

Cut for many years in the UK but now passed uncut which is surprising as there is a lot of explicit sex and in particular a scene where a woman yanks on a little boy's thingie.

Great film though, very arty and important. The picture is brilliant and the extras are really good too. The film is in Japanese with English subtitles

Empire of Passion is also on bluray, the companion piece to this film and more of a erotic ghost story. Bith are excellent films and discs.
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on 21 October 2003
This is an example when the story is told and the statement is made entirely through a sexual experience. It's not sirprising then that the film is very explicit. Not for the prudish, but exquisitely beautiful and amazingly fresh. Hard to believe it was made in 1976.
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on 30 January 2011
Oshima has produced some great films - Boy, The Ceremony. These are great dramas about Japanese culture and convention. And then in 1976 came In the Realm of the Senses. It is sexually explicit in a way that we've never seen before in a mainstream film. That sexual openness is so beautiful and natural and desperately needed in our films. Especially in a cinema industry that finds fun and entertainment in violence in all its forms.
Oshima's film has ravishing camerawork with ever frame pierced with colour. However, I think that artistically he has dropped down a few notches from where he was. Realm of the Senses just has too much sex and not enough story. It felt to me like he was trying to challenge the censors by rubbing sex in their face. And then their's the ending which was just a touch too gory, better if it had been suggested a little more rather than shown.
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on 27 December 2013
I was mesmerised by the cleverness of the composition, lighting and camera handling in this film.
As I said in the title, the story feels a bit poor while it unfolds but, after watching the whole of the piece, it somehow builds up to a complete and satisfactory narrative. Then, even if the story was terrible, the sheer beauty and visual cleverness of this work would warrant a recommendation.

Do not buy if you are looking for straight titillation as you would probably be disappointed.
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