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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
In The Realm of The Senses - Double Play (Blu-ray + DVD) [1976]
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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on 6 February 2011
Nagisa "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence" Oshima's most notorious film culminates with a truly shocking ending, encapsulating the sheer force of self-destructive passion between Kichi (Tatsuya Fuji) and Sada (Eiko Matsuda). It's an apt, inevitable climax.

The film sees a master, Kichi, take a servant, Sada, as his concubine. The balance of power quickly shifts, however, as Kichi struggles to come to terms with Sada's insatiable, and increasingly dangerous, sensual appetite. Together they push away a prudish world that would label them perverts; with the help of a carefully inserted boiled egg, they even mock the institution of procreation.

Though notions of class are touched upon (Sada, drawn from prostitution and servitude, refers to her desire to be "respectable" when with Kichi as well as a particularly paternal client), really this is a film about sex and death. You certainly can't fault it for scope of ambition, and yet its narrow - nay blinkered - focus on its deliriously conflicted protagonists is perhaps its greatest strength. After the opening scenes, Kichi and Sada dominate every last coital frame.

I've found the film becomes sadder, more poignant, with repeated viewings. The addiction is palpable, the self-annihilation agonising - not only in the characters' actions but in their changing faces: the terrible anxiety that what they share is transient; the haunting knowledge that death at the zenith is preferable to a slow decline.

I'll paddle into the art versus porn debate by saying that those looking for titillation from this film will probably find it - but they will also find a heartfelt, insightful and ultimately devastating portrait of extreme human desire.
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on 6 March 2012
The filming was rather poor and the subjects were not good actors. unfortunately most of the time their bodies were covered up and the story line was almost non existent.
Had the story been more interesting and the sex scenes more real then it could have been a better video
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on 11 January 2015
Definitely 18 rating very explicit. Would not watch again.
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on 9 November 2014
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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 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 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 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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on 17 July 2012
I was splendid.
I think that TV broadcasting is not possible when it is Japan
Finally, it is a story miserable
It was a good work
Though I think that a correction and a cut enter when it is Japan
What I could watch by no correction till the last was splendid
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on 16 February 2014
There's a lot to be said for the content and message of this film. Led by two strong and brave performances, 'In The Realm of The Senses' shows two restless people with a raging sexual desire for each other, satiating their lust and rebelling against the norms and constraints of society. The two main characters are not sympathetic and they don't pretend to be. Everything revolves around their selfish and desperate need to be fulfilled by each other.

There is an interesting element of role reversal within the film, as the insanely jealous Sada becomes the female aggressor of the relationship, and the charismatic Ichizo eventually turns into her submissive. Both of them are both so deeply involved in their love affair that they let it consume their entire lives and it isolates them from everyone else. Nagisa Oshima does a wonderful job of creating an atmospheric yet claustrophobic setting in which Sada and Ichizo eat and sleep together. You can't even really judge their actions as a casual viewer, as it is based on real events. The infamous outcome of the film (and the real-life situation) is both tragic and oddly poignant.

It has been debated if ITROFTS is a mainstream take on pornography, masquerading as art. However, my understanding of the film is that these two people are curious about the limits of their ecstasy, and use sexual mind games to test their willpower, whilst being ignorant to the dangers of prolonging their twisted obsession. Natural onscreen chemistry between Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda and their committed performances raise the film to another level.

Daring and thought-provoking, albeit slow-paced. Emphatic sex scenes (but not without purpose). 'In The Realm' is an unsettling, unique and highly memorable film.
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