6.6/10
14,808
113 user 90 critic

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.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
4 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A married woman and her lover murder her husband and dump his body into a well. After a while, his ghost comes to haunt them while the local gossip grows stronger.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Tatsuya Fuji, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takahiro Tamura
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Twenty-nine-year-old Ryotaro is underemployed, has no friends, hyperventilates and is awkward. Worse, he is also a virgin and never been kissed before. To remedy the situation he picks up a... See full summary »

Director: Ken Iizuka
Stars: Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Nozomi Sasaki, Tôri Matsuzaka
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.7/10 X  
Director: Gamewizdom
Stars: Gamewizdom
Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A high school film club movie project is interrupted by nefarious thugs. Enter the high kicking school girls who will have to put their acting to use in a real-life situation.

Director: Kazuhiro Yokoyama
Stars: Kaede Aono, Risako Itô, Mayu Kawamoto
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  

A major hit in Japanese theaters since its release in June, 'Okinawa: The Afterburn' is the first documentary film to provide a comprehensive picture of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the ... See full summary »

Director: John Junkerman
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Aoi Nakajima ...
Toku
Yasuko Matsui ...
Meika Seri ...
Matsuko (Yoshidaya maid)
Kanae Kobayashi ...
Old geisha Kikuryû
...
...
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
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Sensation of Cannes, London, Berlin, Chicago and Los Angeles See more »


Certificate:

NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 April 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of the Senses  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.50 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot in Japan, the undeveloped film had to be shipped to France for development, due to Japan's strict censorship policies. See more »

Quotes

Kichizo: I've got to pee. Okay with you?
Sada Abe: There's no need to leave. Do it here.
Kichizo: Where?
Sada Abe: Inside of Sada, all nice and warm.
Kichizo: You're mad! It's impossible to do both at the same time.
See more »

Connections

Version of Sada: Gesaku · Abe Sada no shôgai (1998) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
You Will Feel Unease Whether You Appreciate The Film Or Not
28 August 2014 | by See all my reviews

Of all the categories of film ones depicting open sex are the most controversial. Trick people, steal their identities, wealth or children, make war, drop bombs or annihilate planets and it is all fine. Show two humans have sex for pleasure and millions will revolt. Although few deny that sex is exciting many assert it is not proper or art. Making the audience feel unsettled, uncomfortable and flinch is part of the intention here. Written and directed by Japan's Nagisa Ôshima's, 1976's In The Realm of Senses (Ai No Korida or 'love's/lover's bullfight') clinches the title as a risqué and explicit art film conceived to break taboos. Here is a film with full sexuality, nudity, penetration, S&M and more whose mission, for starters, is to push the boundaries, promote free speech and deconstruct obscenity. It is pornographic, but directed to be the opposite. Given the imagery and subject matter the film could easily be labelled pornography; however, the presence of respectable/mainstream/traditional cast, crew, studio and production values - not to mention anti-pornographic (pink eiga) film techniques - renders it enough of a something else to confuse most and push the boundary well back. Nagisa Ôshima saw obscenity and censorship as anathema to progress and indeed believed Japan has taken many steps backwards since the days of pleasure quarters, open prostitution in brothels, openness and individuality. His distaste for what he saw as the society's backward march, group-think and suppression of free speech is the driving force behind the feature. Indeed the old geisha who at one point entertains the main characters of this film, when the younger ones ended up refusing to return, proclaims "that's natural for a woman" to constantly have sex with a man. Oshima's statement in this regard sheds light on his intent. "The concept of "obscenity" is tested when we dare to look at something that we desire to see but have forbidden ourselves to look at. When we feel that everything has been revealed, "obscenity" disappears" He needed his powers of articulation because - and not for the first time - he would land in court in Japan defending his art. He would live to tell the tale, but to this day the film is only seen in Japan cut, censored and pixelated. The film unequivocally depicts one X-rated sexual act and thought after another. On a mission to make "obscenity disappear" one sees complete nudity, sex, an extramarital affair, S&M inclusive of pain inflicted with or without foreign objects (Kichizo: "it hurts but feels good"), exhibitionism, ingestion, prostitution, promiscuity/free sex, exposure of children and sex with the elderly. Having scratched items off its list the viewer is still ill prepared for the mutilation that follows. Such is the conviction of the writer/director and the ensemble around him. The film does not stop there. Caught in its crosshairs are Japan's pre-World War II militarization, Japanese traditional respect for one's seniors and tradition, male dominance in sex and pornography and crucially man's greater sexual appetite compared to a woman's. Any and all of these concepts would horrify the busybodies that constitute any society anywhere, but even more so in the Japan of 1976 with its induced promotion of group harmony and conformity. Based on a real story dating back to 1936 In The Realm Of Senses retells the story of Sada Abe (played by newcomer Eiko Matsuda) who bedded with her master (Kichizo Ishida played by Tatsuya Fuji) with their ending up stealing away from their lives in a Tokyo inn in Nakano while abandoning his wife. Scandal ensues when their indulgence intensifies amidst everything described above and more. The lovers completely give of themselves. Coincidentally, I had recently watched Akarui Mirai with Tatsuya Fuji who has had an acting career in Japan before and after this feature. It is worth noting this because In The Realm Of Senses features a range of established Japanese talent. Anywhere else in the world and this movie would not have attracted any takers. Apparently, many women had come to audition for a cinematic role, which involves full penetration. The same could not be said about the male talent. The director recounts many were worried about their phallus size or being able to perform on camera. Nonetheless, first there is Oshima's wife, the actress Akiko Koyama. She had volunteered to play Sada, although some speculate it was done to spur other actresses. She plays a geisha here. The old geisha is Kanae Kobayashi. She plays her actual real-life age. She was an established actress notable for the Zatoichi films. The old vagabond is Taiji Tonoyama whose over 200 credits include the brilliant Ningen No Joken (The Human Condition I). The innkeeper is played by established actress Aoi Nakajima herself the daughter of Masayuki Mori known for classics of cinema like Ugetsu or Rashomon. The crew was also an established team working in Kyoto on the set of many a Mizoguchi or Kurosawa film. It is an extraordinarily uninhibited and ground-breaking film. Yet, there are beautiful images of old-style Japanese rooms and decor, traditional outfits, melodies of the shamisen and muted but vivid colours throughout the film which is largely restricted to the indoors. The fox (kitsune) masks of the festival, the kites of the Children's festival and the bird dancer (mimicking the actual bird of earlier) colour the film Japanese further. Nonetheless, these are mere interludes amidst the subversive and often difficult viewing. Amazingly Oshima had sought out the real-life Sada Abe (Sada meaning 'chaste' in Japanese - although her name and the adjective have different Kanji) and obtained her permission to film In The Realm Of Senses. By this time she was ensconced in a Buddhist monastery. Whether one enjoys In The Realm Of Senses or not one has to tip his hat at the courageous and spirited Argos Films, the cast, crew, director, producer and Criterion video.


28 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 113 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page