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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious Minded Erotica......
Nagisa Oshima has achieved what few other directors have managed in dealing with the very touchy subject of sex, in this instance, with sexual obsession. If you plan to watch this movie for a cheap sexual thrill, you will be most disappointed. Oshima has drawn from a real incident reported in a 1936 Japanese newspaper. The film centers around the love between two people...
Published on May 16 2004 by Denny Vu Quach

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor DVD edition of a great movie
The complaints about the Fox Lorber edition of this movie are unfortunately justified. 7-8 out of the original 104 minutes have been cut, reducing the movie to about 96-97 minutes. The movie is reproduced poorly in pan-scan. The scene access is haphazard and often into the middle of a scene and not the beginning (in short useless). The quality of the video transfer is...
Published on Oct. 7 2003


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious Minded Erotica......, May 16 2004
By 
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
Nagisa Oshima has achieved what few other directors have managed in dealing with the very touchy subject of sex, in this instance, with sexual obsession. If you plan to watch this movie for a cheap sexual thrill, you will be most disappointed. Oshima has drawn from a real incident reported in a 1936 Japanese newspaper. The film centers around the love between two people expressed physically, graphically, into realms of the senses where few dare to tread. And with good reason. This is a very intense film as it progresses from the attraction of two people through increasing experimentation in an effort not only to express their passion but to try to find the outer most limits of passion itself. Oshima must have had something metaphorical in mind but the journey as chronicled in the film also has retained the feel of the specifics. It's quirkey and eccentric. The backdrop of the story is as interesting as the story itself. It is an amazing spectacle to observe, giving the viewer a perspective on Japanese life not usually rendered but often alluded to in some historical accounts. One wonders what this experience must have been like for the actors. Oshima has managed what I have always believed should be done in order to treat the subject of sex fully and without shrinking from its' less savory aspects. This is serious minded erotica and quite unlike anything else on screen. The only other film I can recall that compares at all is "Taxi Zum Klo" which was autobiographical and starred a number of actual people playing themselves.Obviously a different catagory in that regard from what is going on here, but both films draw much of their power from explicitly sexual scenes without compromising the integrity of the story being told. This is a film experience that should not be missed.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor DVD edition of a great movie, Oct. 7 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
The complaints about the Fox Lorber edition of this movie are unfortunately justified. 7-8 out of the original 104 minutes have been cut, reducing the movie to about 96-97 minutes. The movie is reproduced poorly in pan-scan. The scene access is haphazard and often into the middle of a scene and not the beginning (in short useless). The quality of the video transfer is not great, although I would have accepted that if it were not for the butchered editing and cuts.
7 minutes does not seem that serious until you realize the film is robbed of parts or entire scenes which made it shocking and unique (as well as almost banned) at the time. The jacket does not mention the cuts, and lists the original length of 104 minutes. I do not have any other Fox Lorber editions in my library, and this will not make me want to purchase others.
The movie is still shocking and fascinating in its portrayal of the main characters as well as the background against which it is set, but the cuts shorten and obscure the key scenes. Hard to say if I would consider the movie pornographic, or even erotic, but it certainly does not lose its impact even though 25 years have passed since I originally saw it when it made its original art-house appearance in the US.
I give it three stars only because of the original material, and not this DVD edition. This is a unique piece of moviemaking considering the original 1976-77 release date, and to my knowledge there is currently no better alternative in the US. I would suggest to anyone who decides to purchase this DVD to look up and read one of the detailed reviews and synopsis of the movie online, to get a better idea of the missing material.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable drama, Nov. 21 2010
This was one of the most erotic and fascinating movies I've ever seen. Traditional Japanese music combined with exquisite photography and superb acting make this love story a classic masterpiece. The fact that this tragedy is based on a true event that occurred in the 1930s made it even more exciting and astonishing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Isaac, July 1 2010
By 
Isaac Sobol "Harry" (Iqaluit Nunavut Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In the Realm of the Senses (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I first saw this film over 20 years ago. At that time, its graphic depictions of sexual activity were unheard of in a mainstream movie. And even now, in the age of a proliferation of internet porn, there is still nothing to compare, in main stream films, with the graphic sex scenes in this film.

That being said, if anything, this film might put you off of sex, not invite you to consider it. Sex becomes an obsession for the two main characters, taking over their lives completely, with devastating consequences.

The plot of the film is based on a real life incident in Japan, so when it was originally released, the Japanese public could most likely relate to it as an elaboration of "the news".

Beautifully filmed, unsettling, engaging. "In the Realm of the Senses" is a unique classic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie..., May 15 2004
By 
Victoria Fletcher "bikkysan" (New England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
I have to say that this movie is most certainly not one for everyone. That's quite obvious from it's NC-17 rating, and the fact that it was banned for quite some time.
But aside from that.... It's an interesting movie about obsession and sex. The characters don't really get too deep, and you don't necessarily feel much sympathy for them, but that's part of the point of the film. You're supposed to feel the obsession, and the fact that the two lovers really only ever have sex on their minds, that it's taken over their lives.
It's graphic, violent even, with tons of sex... But if you know what you're getting into and can look beyond just the simple act of sex, you might find it a worthwhile movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad acting at all, Maddona was right for once..., May 10 2004
By 
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
There is defintely a movie here and not just about sex. It's about passion and needing over coming ones mind, and I'm sure we've all felt that way at one time, of course maybe it wasn't in Feutal Japan, but at some point. There's such a deep story here, and whenever the couple were away from each other I thought they would kill whoever was near them, because they needed each other so much. The Lead Actress shows her skills of what it's like being a sexaholic, and the Lead Actor shows how easily it is to be overcome by a woman. Anyone who rates this as a bad movie didn't actually think about the movie at all, and just counted the sex scenes (which there a lot of) but that's even sicker than watching for the sex scenes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I HAVENT SEEN THIS YET..., May 7 2004
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
....BUT I HAVE READ MOST OF THE REVIEWS...I THINK THE POINT I AM TRYING TO GET ACROSS IS THAT THIS WAS NOT MEANT TO BE A PORN...IT WAS MEANT TO BE ART...JUST BECAUSE MODERN AMERICAN SOCIETY VIEWS NUDITY IN FILM AS WRONG OR IMMORAL, DOES NOT MEAN THERE'S ANY REASON TO DOWN A FOREIGN FEATURE WHERE THIS IS AN EVERYDAY ISSUE...THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME...
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4.0 out of 5 stars May Float Your Boat or Sink Your Ship, April 19 2004
By 
"syconinca" (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
Many of you looking at this particular item might be well aware of foreign cinema, in all of it's delightfully un-Hollywood sentimentality. If you've seen the movie - which I'll assume some of you have - you might have already formed a very specific opinion about it. Perhaps the reason why is because the subject matter is very extreme, and it'd be more than a little difficult to walk away and not feel something. Initially, I was disgusted. I changed my mind, and I thought I'd share my reasoning here.
First of all, let's say for the sake of argument that the world has various standards when it comes to morality in any film dealing with adult issues. Some of you may have seen Lars Von Trier's "Dogville" and thought to yourself: "That's one skewed paradigm." Be that as it may, it's no less plausible than the cinematic - or philosophic - paradigm of Steven Spielberg. My point here is that we all look at and engage realities in a different way - and Japanese cinema is no different. In his revelatory book "Eros in Hell," Jack Hunter explores Japanese "pink cinema." This film is among hundreds produced in an odd era of Japanese filmmaking. Comparable with American "blue movies," pinku eiga moved to explore the boundaries of s*x as art, but also the psychological implications between the graphic evidence.
It'd be easy to refer to this genre of filmmaking as horror/pornography; the more difficult path is examining it in the same light you might examine a film by Adriane Lyne or David Cronenberg. Their general aesthetic is curiously akin to Japanese pink films. So here's the breakdown: this film is, in my opinion, an exploration of s*x as statement which is then turned on it's head to direct it's audience in considering the right questions.

Jack Hunter's book will point out that this film in particular is an exception - in that while it shared a genre and a content with it's contemporaries, the bigger picture might actually have been a statement about pink cinema all together. Consider, as you watch, that the s*x is almost cartoonish in it's frequency, that the humor is dry and nonchalant, and that the ending lends itself to a whole different mindset. Without giving too much away, the end is similar to "The Night Porter," or "Dead Ringers."
These comparisons are primarily in reference to the climactic scenes in each - where our hero and heroine (in spite the difficulty with which they hold the title) pull out of the outside world completely into some kind of isolated space. Up to this point we've seen our protagonists weather scrutiny and obstacles to be fulfilled. In fact we - the audience - have done most of the scrutinizing and castigating. I know I wasn't rooting for these people for the better part of their respective stories, but I felt as if I were driving them away into reclusiveness by lacking compassion for them.
Only when each set of characters are alone do we start to feel less accusatory and unforgiving. We realize - or so the hope might be - that their's is a deep spiritual bond. One you might expect to see between to loveable Hollywood starlets in a romantic comedy. But that isn't exactly the way things are. Though this example is relatively melodramatic, you can understand why they have arrived at such an intimacy.
They've reached that place with each other because we, the audience, didn't believe they could. We passed them off as s*x-crazed sociopaths. And honestly, they were. But I think a real interesting point the film made to me was how deeply they were connected in spite of the superficial s*xuality. This is a hard-learned lesson, and one you'll have to dig deep for. But consider for a moment that America doesn't own the patent on love stories, and that additionally love stories aren't always cute or clean or pure. Perhaps from the filmmaker's perspective love was an ugly, dirty thing - until it existed in a place where it was solemnly understood.
And without the world coming down on the protagonists - from without the constraints of society or the status quo - their particular kind of love was much easier to understand. I'm not saying that you'll instantly say to yourself: "Hey, wait a second... that was just love, not graphic s*x." I just took it with a grain of salt and thought of it as a near-parody. The fact of the matter is that you can point out blatant exaggerations in a great deal of Japanese contemporary media, and this film is no exception.
This obviously does not solve the problem of "just too much graphic s*x for my liking."
"The Night Porter," directed by Liliana Cavani, is somewhat less intense. That isn't to say it's devoid of intensity, or that you'll have a nice dinner-date movie on hand. It is to say that the s*xual content is far less prominent - and miraculously it gets the same point across in it's decidedly more watered-down, Western way. And as far as I'm concerned, that message is "intimacy can't be readily depicted in cinema without alienating the audience, because ideally - intimacy is a very exclusive thing."
It takes a patient person to watch "In The Realm of the Senses." It takes a lot of courage to appreciate it. However, save for the actors (or in the case of "In the Realm..." the real-life people it was inspired by) - don't expect anyone to completely understand the intimacy. This film will haunt some of you with that prospect.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Explicit art, Feb. 17 2004
By 
Eolake "eolake (.com)" (Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
It was not, to be honest, one of the films in the world I have enjoyed the most. The Japanese fascination with pain is a bit odd to me.
But it is well made, and it proved an important point: that the western idea that sex or nudity must not be shown in a serious film is just wrong. It only seems wrong to show nudity or sex when the film makers are trying at the same time *not* to do it. If it is a natural part of the film, there is no problem whatsoever.
It is a pity that we can only see sex or nudity in porn films, for they are always attrociously bad.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Bullring of Love, May 27 2003
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This review is from: In the Realm/Sens. (DVD)
By now everyone knows this film is about a sexually-obsessed woman who strangles and then cuts off her lover's willie (the extent to which her lover shared in the extremety of her obsession is somewhat debatable...). That notwithstanding, the film is well-acted, visually stylish, and manages to convey a genuine feeling for the passion which drove the characters. It's also succinct (at 96 minutes) and has some fabulous sex scenes.
The real-life case of 'Abe Sada' (Abe is the family name) was very well known in Japan, occurring almost 40 years before Oshima made this film. There are at least two other cinematic versions of the events. If anything, reality was even a bit stranger than fiction: in the real-life case Abe was arrested whilst carrying around the severed member in her kimono sash. I saw a photograph of her once, taken just after her arrest: you have never seen a more haunted-looking woman.
The original Japanese title of the film is 'Ai no Corrida,' 'Ai' means 'love', but, interestingly, 'Corrida' is not a Japanese word at all: it's a Spanish word meaning 'dash' 'sprint' or 'spurt', and is most often used in the expression 'Corrida de Toros' -- i.e. bullfight -- strongly alluding to the brutal (and inevitable) death of the bull at the end. This puts quite a different complexion on the theme of the film than does the Western distributor's title of 'In the Realm of the Senses' which seems to imply sensual pleasure which has perhaps unintentionally got out of hand.
Oshima's stock-in-trade has always been the 'shocking' film, usually made with the aim of confronting 'bourgeous' sensibilities or an accepted view of society or history. In the 1960's they were more of the socio-political variety (e.g. 'The Sun's Burial,' 'Cruel Story of Youth'); but the success of this film firmly added the sexual element to his repertoire; you can see this continues even up to the recent film 'Gohatto.' In my mind, however, 'Ai no Corrida' is the only one of his films that really works.
A quibble with the DVD version (I don't have the American Fox-Lorber one that so many have bitterly complained about, but the European one by Nouveau Entertainment) is that it appears to be a transfer from VHS: the English subtitles are part of the film image and not selectable (i.e. you can't turn them off). That is frankly very poor in a DVD.
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In the Realm of the Senses (The Criterion Collection)
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