Originally Posted by substance
I watched In the Realm of Senses for the first time last night? What are your thoughts?
As an art form, for a Blu-ray release or just the film itself? As an art form, current debate on auteurs
, as a Blu-ray release...I felt it was rather interesting and quite daring for Criterion to release it on Blu. Granted, if Salo or Sweet Movie come out on Blu-ray, that would be...hmm... intriguing.
As for the film...
There has been a few movies in Japan that have been based on the storyline of Sada Abe but Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses” is the only film that focuses on the sex and the relationship between both Sada Abe and her lover Kichizo Ishida. It captures their sexual exploits and how it starts to become more extreme.
But as controversial this film was because of its sexual content, the story of what took place from the filming, to post-production and after the film’s release is also an exciting story covered in this release.
Because of the sexual freedom that has went on in the mid-70’s and America legalizing pornography, there have been a good number of sexual films that pushed the button of obscenity. Mainly because no one had a clear cut guide of what is the legal definition of obscenity.
For Oshima, the obscenity law in Japan was invented so people will avoid of thinking about sex directly but for this film, Oshima’s goal was to have people think about sex directly but by showing that his film is not pornography and it is not obscene.
So, for those of you who were considering buying this Blu-ray, may be wondering about what makes this film so controversial? Well, the best way to explain it features full-frontal nudity and the talent in the film engage in actual sex. All types of sex from intercourse, oral, objects being inserted…you get the picture. There’s more scenes that are quite graphic and some that may not go so well with the Western audience but again, it all depends on a person’s perception and what they are able to take in.
Is this film a pornographic film? Where pornography is focused on a quick act for the achieving sexual thrills for the viewer and people don’t exactly watch for its acting or storyline, “In the Realm of the Senses” is not a film that can be considered pornographic. This is a full-feature film with talent, it’s just that instead of faking love scenes, Oshima known for pushing the envelope and known for daring to be unique and different, does accomplish that with this film.
These sexual exploits are true and are based on an actual true story. If you are going to focus on the sex between a couple, you can’t skip on the details, you have to make it as real as possible.
Personally, I can see the two different perspectives of the different viewers. One who looks at artistic freedom and the ability for the talent who are doing their job in making a film quite realistic and making sure the sexual narrative is the main focal point. Then I can see the other side who will watch this film and think it’s a film about a string of sexual scenes with little narrative. This film and everything from photos or artwork at an art exhibit can always be criticized as pornography but it all comes down to one’s interpretation of pornography.
For me, “In the Realm of the Senses” was not pornographic. Shocking, to see certain sex acts…yes. But watching it, it was more in awe of how these two individuals would go so far into their sexual exploits and in the end, watching the tear fall from Ishida’s face, knowing that he can no longer be at the level of pleasing his wife as he would like and thus gives his life for her. And of course, the final moment which many Japanese who were familiar with the case know that because her love of the sex, she wanted to keep him close to her and thus she does the unthinkable.
In reality, people and the Japanese justice system sympathized with Abe and thus a six year sentence was reduced to four years. This was not murder, she did it out of love. As twisted as it may seem, there were not ulterior motives. This is how Ishida and Abe preferred to live their life together. A life full of sex.
This is not a romantic film about two people in love. This is a film about two people in love with having sex with each other to the extreme.
Sada and Kichizo’s sexual interest in each other is shocking and the way it’s finely acted by both Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji is just amazing.
You learn from the special features and the included booklet of how Matsuda was ready to do her role but for the casting of the male lead, this was very difficult because most male talent approached didn’t want to have real sex or have their penis shown. Some who felt inadequate about the size. But for TV and film talent, Tatsuya Fuji to bravely take on the role and what he was able to accomplish was quite brave (especially learning how no male actor in Japan wanted to step up this role).
The same for Matsuda who was always in the buff, having sex and performing sex and the film crew were not looking for an actress who has done hard or soft-core films, they wanted an actress who can be believable as the Sada Abe and sure enough, she pulled it off.
Because of the subject matter, this film is not for everyone but for those with an open mind and willing to watch this film and see where Oshima is coming from in creating such a story and to know that it’s based on actual people, you can see how sex can be quite destructive.
All in all, for those open for something different, highly sexual and controversial for a film, “In the Realm of the Senses” is definitely a Blu-ray release for the adults that is worth trying!