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In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Ai no korîda (original title)
NC-17 | | Biography, Drama, Horror | 1 April 1977 (USA)
A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to a sexual obsession which then came to a violent end.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aoi Nakajima ...
Yasuko Matsui ...
Tagawa Inn Manager
Meika Seri ...
Matsuko (Yoshidaya maid)
Kanae Kobayashi ...
Old geisha Kikuryû
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Old Beggar
Kyôji Kokonoe ...
Teacher Ômiya
Naomi Shiraishi ...
Geisha Yaeji
Shinkichi Noda
Komikichi Hori ...
Mitsuwa Geisha
Kikuhei Matsunoya ...
Hôkan jester
Akiko Koyama ...
Mansaki Geisha
Yuriko Azuma ...
Mitsuwa Geisha
Rei Minami ...
Mitsuwa Geisha


Based on a true story set in pre-war Japan, a man and one of his servants begin a torrid affair. Their desire becomes a sexual obsession so strong that to intensify their ardor, they forsake all, even life itself. Written by Allen Brown <browna@ohsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 April 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of the Senses  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(original) | (2000 re-release) | (DVD) | (final) | (reconstructed version) (R-rated) (reconstructed)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.50 : 1
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Did You Know?


Demand to see the film at its first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival was so high, 13 screenings were arranged. See more »


Sada Abe: Now what am I supposed to do?
Kichizo: You mustn't ask me. Aren't you the bride?
Sada Abe: But how should I know? I've never been married before.
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User Reviews

Groundbreaking and unique. Yet strangely forgotten.
23 July 2000 | by (Glasgow, Scotland) – See all my reviews

It has been described as the Japanese Last Tango in Paris- a fair comparison. For both films explore in a truly raw and puissant manner the sexuality and psychology of sex. Ai No Corrida is an overwhelming experience, if for nothing else than its sheer audacity. But Corrida is so much more than sex. It delves into a shrouded netherworld of experimentation and pain. The world of De Sade.

Yet it is not turgid or depraved; it is not repugnant or diabolical. It is a poetic voyage into the unknown. It is about the search for pure fulfillment and pleasure. Nothing else in the world presented matters, reality is discarded. And thus the cause for the tragedy which ensues.

The two protagonists separate themselves from all that is real for they know that to find true happiness they must transcend all levels of reality and consciousness to a mighty plane. But such a place is transient. Yet the few glorious moments in such a world are worth any heartache that follows.

It was a film ahead of its time and I believe that it is still. The sparse few in the audience snickering and snorting confirmed this. It is one of those films whose reputation has preceded it and is so well known in Arthouse circles that disappointment may be said to be inevitable. But this film lives up to its reputation. For it is a truly explicit and daring film as it challenges the common perception that happiness is conformity. It proposes that true happiness is unobtainable in this world and to gain it you must sacrifice the flesh, to forward and improve the soul.

Yet this film made twenty-four years ago has been forgotten in the industry for where is its influence, its mark? Few films have used pornography in such a way since. And sex is still relegated to the flea-pit cinemas and backstreet shops. Arthouse films which depict sex, even those which do so explicitly, present it as the result of the character's exploration or development. As a curiosity, or as symbolic of the ascension of a particular player. Corrida uses sex to forward the plot, to illustrate the personalities of its protagonists, to symbolize everything in their fragile society. Sex is the plot development, sex is the key player and sex is the message. The sex takes centre stage. Each new scene is the result of sex, not vice versa.

This truly original concept has never taken hold. Why not? Surely the Arthouse circuit would realize the potential and milk it dry. And yet Corrida and a handful of others are the only films to take advantage.

This is why Ai No Corrida is a masterpiece. The acting, the direction, script etc... are all brilliant. But the ideas and concepts and invention are what makes Corrida one of the most superb films ever made. A film unknown except to those in the Arena. A film which took no hold, was as distant and mysterious as the world it depicted. A fleeting landmark that should have shook the world; but, maybe rightly, will always remain a forgotten treasure.

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