Monday, June 21, 2010

IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (Nagisa Oshima, 1976, Japan)

Two people consumed by a powerful obsession, trapped in a cage of flesh and desire, transforming pain and pleasure into a sadistic addiction. Director Nagisa Oshima explores taboo territory with graphic sexuality, utilizing unsimulated penetration to contrast the extreme nature of their sensual abandon with mundane copulation.

Sada Abe is a prostitute who craves sex like alcohol, her vocation an erotic provocation, existing in the delirious realms of orgasmic fury while tethered to the concrete anchor of reality. Oshima begins the film with unadulterated passion which transcends the pornographic, framing this physical act in medium compositions without inserts (OK, bad pun, I confess). At first, this is shockingly unexpected but soon becomes routine, desensitizing the viewer to this repressive taboo. Sada leaves the brothel but not her innate cravings, not so much sharing her body for monetary gain but for another profit where ecstasy becomes the coin of her realm. She becomes the mistress of her new boss and together they dissect each other with a carnal switchblade, ignoring the world around them and focused entirely upon ejaculatory incantations. Oshima utilizes claustrophobic spaces, trapping the protagonists within small rooms by eschewing establishing shots. The narrative is only concerned with Sada and Kichizo while peripheral characters become audience or participant in their facile games.

Oshima does not pass judgment upon the duo, he allows their emotions to progress and recede naturally as they suffer the consequences of their obsession. Kichizo shares his final breath with Sada, his exhalation her ultimate arousal. But she has reduced her lover to a vestigial organ and carries a piece of him with her. Forever. Final Grade: (B+)

4 comments:

Drew said...

Man, this is one I've been so curious about for the longest time, and haven't quite been able to bring myself to delve into yet. Fantastic write-up here, this movie has actually been on my mind lately, and might be the final push I need to finally give it a go.

Alex DeLarge said...

I was the same way Drew; I waited for years to watch this and finally purchased the blu-ray. With MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE due out in high-def later this year I'm hooked on Oshima:)

I also have a review for EMPIRE OF PASSION in the can, and I plan on watching his Outlaw 60s set from Criterion next month. Stay tuned!

d.francis said...

I saw this years ago.
Definitely not a date movie.(ouch!)
It kind of reminded me of The Night Porter in the way the couple just
locked themselves away from the world and screw themselves silly.

I can't say I really liked it.
I didn't know it was the same director
as Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
I enjoyed that movie even less than
In The Realm Of The Senses.

This movie was hyped much the same way Last Tango In Paris was and I
hated that movie. I walked out thinking "what's all the fuss about?"

And I like strange and slow paced
movies. I think in this genre Cronenberg's Crash works better.
But that's just me.

Daniel

Alex DeLarge said...

I enjoy Cronenberg and can't wait for VIDEODROME on Criterion blu-ray later this year. But CRASH is one of his few films I have yet to see; thanks for your suggestion I'll fix that oversight!