In The Realm of the Senses (Oshima, 1976)

In The Realm of the Senses

On one hand, In The Realm of the Senses is sincere and quite seriously goes about expressing the psychology of sexual obsession, but on the other hand, it gives much of the same sensory experience as pornography does. This pornography is explicit, more so than even softcore porn, but it’s not supposed to be arousing. It’s at times quite vulgar, even depraved, and the ending is quite clearly an enunciation of fetishistic desire (Freud’s theory begins and ends with a fear of castration), but the film’s explicitness is instrumental in rendering the strange, obsessive, uncomfortable feelings of desire that accompanies an act of intense carnal pleasure. This pleasure begins with sex and ends with death; their denial of life and embrace of the sensory speaks to a hedonist’s experience of such pleasure that one detaches from life, from ego, from everything but the purely sensory. I’m not entirely convinced that conveying this idea justifies exposing the viewer to such intimate and at times offensive images.

70/100 – Good.

3 Stars


About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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