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In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Ai no korîda (original title)
NC-17 | | Drama, Romance | 1 April 1977 (USA)
A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to an obsessive and ultimately destructive sexual relationship.


Nagisa Ôshima


Nagisa Ôshima
3,138 ( 239)
4 wins. See more awards »




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

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Drama | Romance


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film is still censored in its home country of Japan. According to Japanese law any depiction of genitalia, be it pornography or not, must be censored. See more »


Kichizo: [talking to Sada] A girl like you can stab a man's heart without a knife, huh?
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Alternate Versions

The original version ran 108 minutes. Producer Anatole Dauman received Oshima's permission to recut the film, resulting in a shorter 102-minute edit. This version has been distributed theatrically in some countries (such as France) and is available on video in Australia, the UK, the United States, and France. The French DVD includes both versions (via seamless branching), while the U.S. Criterion DVD features the cut footage as an extra. The PAL releases run 97 minutes. This shorter version makes the following changes:
  • An early scene in which Sada has sex with Ishida while playing a shamisen has been cut by about a minute and a half. In the original version, Sada seemingly goes unconscious and Ishida checks for her heartbeat.
  • A brief shot (12 seconds) of Ishida and Sada on a bridge has been added to the scene in which the couple goes out walking at night.
  • A later scene (in which the geishas assault one of their own with a dildo) is cut by 14 seconds to remove a shot of Ishida and Sada's faces in mid-copulation.
  • An entire two-minute scene is deleted about an hour into the film. This scene features Sada and Ishida having sex behind a thin screen, while Ishida speaks of the "darkness" he feels inside Sada.
  • The scene in which Sada first strangles Ishida is cut by just over one minute. In the short version, the scene ends when Ishida starts coughing and Sada releases his throat. In the original version, Ishida asks her to resume, which she does (only to stop when he begins coughing again).
  • The scene in which Ishida becomes drowsy while having sex with Sada is edited differently. The original version has slightly different dialogue and has an additional minute of footage where Ishida actually does fall asleep for a short time.
  • The scene in which Sada wakes up after her final night with Ishida is cut by one minute. The original version shows Sada lying on the floor and apparently panicking, walking around the room and opening doors for no obvious reason. The short version cuts straight from Sada waking up to the shot of her standing over Ishida's body.
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Featured in 100 Greatest Sexy Moments (2003) See more »


Ume wa saitaka (aka: Is the plum blooming?)
Japanese traditional
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User Reviews

Get Over It
28 July 2003 | by KrustallosSee all my reviews

It's clear that a lot of people can't get past the explicitness of this film, which is a shame. I recall a lot of embarrassed giggling last time I saw it at the cinema. The art/pornography debate seems futile to me - this is a film about an obsessive sexual relationship/love affair and it tells it like it is. But it's about as far away from the likes of "Debbie Does Dallas 26" as you can get. The film is clearly serious in intent and there is a lot of beauty in it.

The subtle political content/context of the film is often overlooked - some of the few scenes shot outside the bedroom show groups of soldiers marching the other way from the direction our characters travel - and we all know where the rising Japanese militarism and nationalism of the 1930's led.

I think the best comparison is probably with a film like "Last Tango in Paris" which dealt with similar themes in a similar way - and was probably also pretty boring for those with a short attention span.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Japan | France



Release Date:

1 April 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of the Senses See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.50 : 1
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