In the Realm of the Senses (1976) - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)



Critic Consensus: Sexual taboos are broken and boundaries crossed In the Realm of the Senses, a fearlessly provocative psychosexual tale.

Movie Info

Based upon a true incident in 1930s Japan, Nagisa Oshima's controversial film effectively skirts the borderline between pornography and art -- making Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris of four years earlier look like children's programming in comparison. The story concerns servant and former prostitute Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) who becomes sexually obsessed with her employer Kizicho (Tatsuya Fuji), a businessman, after seeing him making love to his wife. After making love to Sada, Kizicho becomes obsessed with her as well. As their love-making becomes more and more intense, they find themselves unable to separate themselves from each other, until every waking hour is spent in more and more dangerous sexual acts with Sada becoming more and more of the aggressor. Finally, for the ultimate in eroticism, Kizicho agrees to be strangled during sexual ecstasy for the ultimate in orgasmic fulfillment. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Tatsuya Fuji
as Kichi-zo
Yasuko Matsui
as Manageress of Inn
Meika Seri
as Geisha
Taiji Tonoyama
as Old Beggar
Naomi Shiraishi
as Geisha Yaeji
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News & Interviews for In the Realm of the Senses

Critic Reviews for In the Realm of the Senses

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (7)

Declaring yourself bored by a movie full of explicit sex may sometimes mark you out as a dreary pseudo-sophisticate, but in this case it's fair enough.

September 1, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Unsanitised, worryingly convincing in its sadomasochistic detail, this is seriously provocative cinema, a telling reminder of what it really means to be dangerous.

August 29, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

As the soundtrack moans in sympathy while the deep crimson colours dazzle in delirium, the entire movie comes desperately close to approximating the pell-mell emotional turmoil of sex itself. Not porn, sex.

August 29, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

One of the most extraordinary moments in screen history. Oshima's film widens and deepens the sensual realm.

August 29, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

It was made 33 years ago but Nagisa Oshima's doomed lust classic doesn't look in the least bit dusty. Quite the opposite.

August 29, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Time and space are suspended in [director Nagisa] Oshima's beautiful images.

October 23, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for In the Realm of the Senses


Famed for the controversy it caused upon its original release, Nagisa Oshima's 'In the Realm of the Senses' was, for a long time, only spoken about in hushed voices, confined to a world of perpetual slicing and dicing by the censors and never truly available in its graphic entirety. It's been thirty-four years and the film has at long last received an unedited pass by the BBFC, allowing audiences to finally be subjected to something like which they have never seen before, and for many, may never want to see again. The film is based on the true story of Sada Abe (played here by Eiko Matsuda), a Japanese woman who acquired fame for killing her lover, Kichizo Ishida (Tatsuya Fuji) via erotic asphyxiation before cutting off his penis and testicles to carry around in her handbag. Undoubtedly the most striking thing in ITROFTS is the graphic, increasingly obscene, real sex that the story centers around. Oshima has no boundaries when it comes to showing his actors entangled amongst one another, and this, for many will seem unnecessary and overly pornographic. For those able to view it objectively however, it will add another dimension of realism to both the narrative and performances that is scarcely found. Despite its graphic nature and unrelentingly brutal sexuality there is also a sense of profound beauty throughout the film, brought upon it by the perfectly composed shots and melancholic traditional Japanese music that plays in the background. A sense of limbo accompanies said beauty and causes viewers to feel as if they are, much like Sada and Kichizo themselves, lost in the realm of the senses, victims of both visions of beauty and pain, yet unable to tell the two apart. Although effective, this sense of limbo is also accountable for some of the film's issues with pacing and plot, which often feels as if it is lost amongst the overriding eroticism Oshima was clearly more focused on. Overall, In the Realm of the Senses is a love it or hate it film, which, even if you do love, is impossible to recommend without looking slightly odd.

Cameron Sherwell
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer



Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer


A beautiful, but very adult, film. The story is very powerful and kinda crazy, but I think it was actually based on a true story! An excellent movie about obsession.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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