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In the Realm of the Senses (Ai No Corrida)


Year: 1976 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (Wide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Oshima is a Japanese New Wave director, a rebellious movement from the fifties/sixties onwards that took a look at Japanese society and filmmaking, shook its head in disapproval and sought to change the face of fimmaking as it was. Ai No Corrida is his most infamous film. Whether it's his best or not, is irrelevant, because banned, explicit and pornographic - here it is, for your merry consumption.

Plot: a decidedly sexually active couple make the happy little realisation that auto-erotic asphyxiation maintains an erection. Things develop onward from this. Strangely and sexually. There is the plot. Oshima set out to make a hard core pornographic movie with seriously handled themes. Bizarrely, surprisingly, he actually succeeds. Playing on voyeurism, sadism and masochism, Oshima creates a movie of such sexual intensity that it's both repulsive and fascination.

In the Realm of the Senses deserves a special place in our banned season, as it is one of the most interesting cases of censorship in this decade. Submitted for a certificate in 1976, it was finally passed in March 1991. While the sight of the erect penis (previously an absolute no-no.. so don't look at your own, guys) was finally allowed, various other changes had to be made. The most bizarre piece of alteration was carried out on the scene in which the female lover grabs hold of a little boy's todger and gives it a yank ... that's with a 'y'. Because the stretching of the willy is actual and not similated sexual abuse, the shot couldn't stay as it was - but the BBFC knew that this is a pivotal moment in which the audience realizes that this woman is unbalanced. So, a compromise was reached - the version that was passed (and, thus, probably the version we will be able to screen) is a special print in which the censor has 'zoomed in' on the shot, thus cutting out the guilty hand. Seamless as it is, camouflaged censorship such as this leaves a nastier taste in the mouth than Ai No Corrida does.

Pauline & Conra

In The Realm Of The Senses (Ai No Corrida) was made in 1976, only to be widely banned and shown in Britain only as a ‘club’ event. 21 years later it has been granted an 18 certificate and Great Britain has had a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

Oshima’s film is a very explicit account of a love affair between a geisha girl (Matsuda) and a married man (Fuji) who leaves his wife for her, turning the couple into social outcasts who are forced to spend all their time together. This leads, in an explicit manner, to an obsessive search for ‘little death’ - the ultimate orgasm.

In The Realm Of The Senses is based on a true story, making its ending even more horrific, and can be seen either as a deep exploration of the link between death and eroticism or as a graphic piece of pornography. Essentially about voyeurism, the film is extremely explicit and might contain scenes which some may find shocking. See what you think!


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Screenings of this film:

1995/1996 Spring Term (35mm)
1996/1997 Spring Term (35mm)