Crossing the Line – In the Realm of the Senses

Back from a week long break with something that should hit close to home for any post-pubescent man that has access to the internet. In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida) made in 1976 by modernist director Nagisa Oshima and tells one of the more unusual stories to come out of pre-war Japan.

Tagline: Based on a true story set in pre-war Japan, a man and one of his servants begin a torrid affair.

Synopsis: Sada, a former prostitute, works as a maid in a hotel. After witnessing the owner’s (Kichizo) sexual appetite with his wife, Sada sets out to be the one getting sexed up. An almost endless succession of sex follows, as Kichizo’s urges are matched and outpaced by Sada’s own desire. The sex becomes more experimental and the relationship becomes more overt, creating a great scandal and drawing the scorn of everyone that observes them. Sada becomes violently obsessive, threatening Kichizo with a knife to the throat for even mentioning his wife. When the two try erotic asphyxiation, they reach a new sexual peak, one that they push to the limit, as Kichizo allows Sada to choke him to death to further her pleasure. After finishing, Sada cuts off Kichizo’s penis and carries it with her until the police capture her.

Interesting Fact: Shot in Japan, the undeveloped film had to be shipped to France for development, due to Japan’s strict censorship policies.

Objectionable material: First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Home Plate!, Nudity, Fat Lady rape, Old Lady sex, young lady sex, bum penis, regular penis, castration, naked children, Asian people, foreign objects inserted into vaginas, erotic asphyxiation, a lot of sex, no really a lot of sex

Disturbing Quote: “I’ve got to pee. Okay with you?”

“There’s no need to leave. Do it here.”


“Inside of Sada, all nice and warm.”

I’d love to have a video here, but cut out the nudity and you don’t even have enough film for a 30 second teaser trailer with this film. Here’s the DVD cover instead.

MBRFT: If I based my entire view of Japanese culture strictly on this film, then I would draw the conclusion that the Japanese have nothing better to do than lounge around naked in paper huts and screw prostitutes, stopping occasionally to eat rice. Lucky for Japan, I’ve already based my view of their country on the movie “Mr. Baseball.” I must say, “In the Realm of the Senses” (ITROTS) really opened my eyes. Not only do Asian women not have sideways-vaginas, but they also lay eggs and exist for the specific purpose of servicing men. However, if one becomes infatuated with you, you must never look at another woman again. Just in case “Audition” didn’t hammer the point home, we once again learn of the jealousy-fueled revenge capabilities of Japanese women.

Compared to most shitty Hollywood attempts at a love story, ITROTS is believable. I don’t doubt for a moment that both Sada and Kichi are in love. We even get to see them graphically fornicate on screen too, and it seems to check out. He makes the ultimate sacrifice for their love (I don’t really see why he has to, but he does). Much like the infamous “Straw Dogs” rape/consent argument (see PsychoLarry’s corrected column), this film asks the question, “Is it murder if he agrees upon it as a symbol of their love?” Probably not, but he should have to sign some kind of waiver for legal purposes. There is something touching about their final moment together. That is, until she cuts off his penis and uses it as a tampon. Asphyxiation at your aroused lover’s hands is beautiful and poetic; the dick thing was just icky.

ITROTS is undeniably a bold statement about love, which ranks up there with self-defense and Jesus as popular justifications for killing. But it dwells endlessly on the ill-fated couple’s sexcapades and meanders into bizarre kink scenes, including a vaginally-inserted dinner and a needless instance of mildly-sadistic child pornography. Too often the director, Nagisa Oshima, allows the film to slip into exploitation and undermines the emotional impact of a story that would be shocking enough without unsimulated sex. It sometimes felt like less of an art film and more of the kind of video I watch online on a particularly lonely Saturday night. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but there were times I actually wanted the female actresses to put their damn clothes back on. I will give the film credit for featuring the first consensual instance of sadomasochism in our controversial film series.

If I had to pick a musical response to this film, it would be Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love, (But I Won’t Do That).”

Screaming Girl: In the Realm of the Senses was a bizarre movie about a sex crazed couple. The couple consisted of a rich married Japanese guy and a psychotic geisha/housekeeper/child molester. Rich Japanese guy gets involved with his nympho geisha/housekeeper and they have sex like crazy. Listen we’ve all been in new relationships where it seems like there is nothing better to do than be together ALL THE TIME. But this was a little excessive. They lock themselves in a room and have sex so much that while delivering some sake the other housekeeper makes a comment about the smell. Why the screenwriter felt it necessary to include that little tidbit is beyond me.

Back to the story. At some point in the movie psycho geisha feels it necessary to forbid rich guy to have sex with his wife. She does this by threatening to cut his dick off. Just in case the audience doesn’t believe her, they flash to a scene of her watching two naked children playing. She’s watching them run around and then, with cat like reflexes, she grabs the little boy’s penis and pulls on it, hard. That was actually the hardest scene for me to watch because they actually had to put a child in that situation.

Long story short, after all their sex they finally decide that choking would be a fun addition to the bedroom. They have a hard time in the beginning but finally rich guy says to psycho geisha that he would like her to choke him to death so that she could get the ultimate satisfaction. But he was wrong, apparently the ultimate satisfaction would be to choke him to death during sex, cut his dick off with a kitchen knife and then put it back inside her and walk around for the next four days until she is apprehended by the authorities and they forcibly pull it out of her. Oh by the way, did I mention that this is based on a true story? The lady’s name was Sade Abe and she was batshit crazy.

I really don’t know what to say about this movie other than the fact that so far what I’ve learned about the Japanese is that the women are insane and the men are totally fine with that. The movie was cinematically very pretty, I say that as someone who doesn’t know much about cinematography, but I found it pretty. The movie dragged a bit; there is only so much sex you can watch, especially between the same people and in the same positions. I wouldn’t recommend watching this with an acquaintance, your parents, on a date, or with anyone. But hey, you have to give it credit; the actors actually had sex with each other, a lot of sex at that.

My rating on the Mind Fuckability Scale: Makes you think twice about dating that cute Japanese girl.

PsychoLarry: If you’ve managed to find this blog, chances are you’ve been around the internet enough that you’ve seen some Asian porn. Perhaps you’ve seen the really weird stuff. Tentacles, rape fantasy, incest, foreign objects forcefully inserted, strange goo. Maybe you even like that stuff. You’ve never watched it for two straight hours though, I’d wager. “In the Realm of the Senses” pretty much covers most of that weird sex stuff you’ve seen, as well as the more normal stuff, and goes on and on and on.

I’m not going to deny that for a time the love between Kichizo and Sada is kind of sweet, once you get past the idea that she was recently fondling a dirty bum’s penis in a freezing river. I’m not going to try to argue that the film techniques used weren’t interesting and innovative, or that there was no value to the movie. What I will argue is that watching two Japanese people have sex in endless repetition then talk about love for two hours gets boring. Shocking I know, but eventually you can’t even bring yourself to pay attention. The plotting is pretty thin, the timeline is fairly ambiguous, and outside of the sex and the climax practically nothing happens.

I’d like to say more about the movie, but that’s really about it. If you’re into Japanese people having sex, maybe you want to check it out. Just be ready to get more than any art film you’ve ever seen, and probably more than most porn.

-Next week marks the 10th Crossing the Line column! I hope you’ll all join as we look at a movie that pissed off every proper Christian on earth: “The Last Temptation of Christ”.


3 Comments on “Crossing the Line – In the Realm of the Senses”

  1. The Kaiser says:

    I actually rented this movie on Netflix…having no idea what to expect. As you said, the plotting is thin and the only real story is SEX. I suppose I can understand if that was what the writer was going for. I was just surprised the graphic nature.

    It’s no Death Bed though.

  2. G says:


  3. floreign says:

    I actually couldn’t find this film on Netflix or any other place in the US. Neither could I find Idioterne, for that matter. I ended up getting one with the same cover as the one you posted, from UK.

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