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+)