When Nagisa Oshima made In the Realm of Senses, he meant to shock and shocked he did.
In the Realm of the Senses, made in 1976, is a graphic and shocking portrayal of two people very much engrossed and obsessed with each other’s body and consumed by insatiable, destructive sexual desire – what the French call l’amour fou.
The film by Nagisa Oshima– never seen uncensored in Japan – is a classic and remains one of the most controversial films of all time.
It is based upon a real incident. A woman named Sada Abe notoriously, if accidentally, killed her lover during sex. Fleeing the police, she cut off and took with her the part of his body that had connected them. She still had it when she was apprehended. The film contains explicit unsimulated sex scenes between the actors Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, among others.
Strict censorship laws would not have allowed the film to be completed in Japan so the production was officially listed as a French enterprise, and the undeveloped footage was shipped to France for processing.
In the US, the film was initially banned upon its première at the 1976 New York Film Festival, but later screened uncut; a similar fate awaited the film when it was released in Germany.
The British Board of Film Censors, at the time of its first limited screenings in the UK, recommended it be shown under private “cinema club” conditions to avoid the need for cuts to be made, but only after the Obscene Publications Act had been extended to movies (in 1977) to avoid potential legal problems.
In Canada, when originally submitted to the provincial film boards in the 1970s, the film was rejected in all jurisdictions except Quebec. It was not until 1991 that individual provinces approved the film’s release. However, in the Maritime provinces of Canada, the film was rejected again as the policies followed in the 1970s were still enforced.
The film is still prohibited in Ireland.
Unless you are a hardcore porn addict, you’ll need a strong stomach to watch this film.