November 28, 2011



Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon




ColeSmithey.comNagisa Oshima's towering influence over world cinema came as a result of the counter-culture self-identity he developed while involved in '50s-era student protest movements at Kyoto University.

After stumbling into a filmmaking position at Japan's state-run Shockiku film studio in 1954, Oshima snaked his way through Japan's New Wave film movement of the '60s with groundbreaking films such as "Night and Fog in Japan" — a film whose controversial nature caused him to leave the studio and launch his own independent production company.

In The Realm of the Senses

Oshima's fiercely leftist temperament was not given to repetition or to safe subject matter. Instead he gravitated toward topical allegories based on actual events that questioned Japanese social mores. He consistently reinvented his cinematic approach with each new project so that no two of his films are alike.


Under the inspiration of adventurous French producer Anatole Dauman, Oshima set out to go beyond the constraints of Japan's thriving Roman Pink industry. “In the Realm of the Senses” would be a pornographic depiction of the legendary story of a woman named Sada Abe, who remains a unique folk heroine in Japan. Oshima was also intent on celebrating Japan’s erotic traditions which had been diminished by foreign influences, especially after World War II.


After working for years as a prostitute at the age of 31 the real-life Sade Abe took on a restaurant job in Tokyo where she fell into a torrid affair with its married owner, Kichizo Ishida. The couple's sexually obsessive relationship led to their running away together to stay at various hotels where they could explore their sexuality to its farthest limits. After several weeks Sada brought the affair to an abrupt end when she strangled her lover before severing his genitals. Sada carried her lover’s penis and testicles in her purse until she was caught by police several days after the murder.


In Oshima's formally composed film Eiko Matsuda plays Sada to Tatsuya Fuji's Ishida. Set almost strictly indoors the episodic story gains momentum through increasingly fetishistic sexual games between the lovers, often in the presence of voyeuristic geishas who arrive to entertain or bring food. Several of the geishas fall under the spell of the couple’s sexual activity to become willing or unwilling participants. Sada’s ferocious insatiability comes to dominate Ishida who accepts his place as an ardently willing slave to her sensual desires.


With its juxtaposed camera angles, bright color palate, purposeful foreshadowing, and taboo subject matter “In the Realm of the Senses” builds an inevitable type of suspense not unlike what you experience in a Hitchcock film. That graphic sexual expression is the narrative currency Oshima uses to explicate a connection between sex and death only adds to the film’s incalculable power to provoke, offend, frighten, and spellbind its audience.

Rated NC-17. 109 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Smuttynose Imperial Stout gives Cole and Mike the liquid foundation needed to discuss one of the most legendary and notorious films of Japanese Cinema. Non-simulated sex. You bet. You'll need a full set of utensils for this feast, so get out your forks, spoons, and the sharpest knives you can find — you'll know why. Bon appetite Bouffers. 

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series