Musings on "In the Realm of the Senses"
Published on January 20, 2013 by Sara Foss

The provocative Japanese director Nagisa Oshima died last week at 80.

I've watched several of his films over the past couple years, and I've been amazed by how daring, subversive, violent and explicitly sexual they are. His most notorious film is "In the Realm of the Senses," from 1976, which is based on the bizarre true story of Sada Abe, a Japanese woman who erotically asphyxiated her lover, and then cut off his penis. But his lesser known films are also pretty intense. I watched Oshima's 1967 film "Sing A Song of Sex," in which a group of disaffected teenage schoolboys drink, talk constantly about sex and fantasize about raping a girl from their classes. What distinguishes the film is its no-holds-barred attack on Japanese politics and society, eye-popping visual style and relentless and intellectually stimulating cynicism.

Over at Slate Dana Stevens has written an appreciation of "In the Realm of the Senses" that captures the film's unique power. She describes it as a fusion of art and pornography, which seems pretty accurate, although pornography is mainly intended to turn people on, and "In the Realm of the Senses" made me feel sort of sick and dirty. (But it's a great film, really!)

Anyway, click here to read Stevens' piece.

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