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In the Realm of the Senses [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1976]

Release Date:04/28/2009
In 1976, Nagisa Oshima's Ai No Corrida (aka In The Realm Of The Senses) became an international succès de scandale largely thanks to its extensive and explicit sex scenes, which caused some legal trouble in Germany and the United States and courted controversy wherever it played (the film has yet to receive an uncut release in Japan, where it was filmed). However, while Oshima was one of the first filmmakers of note to feature frank and clearly unsimulated erotic scenes in a "mainstream" motion picture, the subsequent appearance of movies like Romance, Baise-Moi, Intimacy, The Brown Bunny and Shortbus has blunted some of the shock of In The Realm Of The Senses, and it's a bit easier now to observe and appreciate the film's other qualities -- the political subtext of the story, the excellent performances by Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, the carefully controlled visual style -- which were often overlooked during its initial release. The Criterion Collection's 2009 DVD release of In The Realm Of The Senses is easily the best looking and most thorough presentation this movie has received in North America, and should help the film to find a more appreciative and discerning audience. In The Realm Of The Senses has been transferred to disc in its preferred widescreen aspect ratio of 1.66:1; the image is letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The quality of the transfer is nearly flawless, with sharper detail than the film's previous video editions and a rich, satisfying color palate. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono retaining the original mix, and while the improvement in the sound quality isn't as impressive as the picture, the clarity and detail is inarguably impressive. The dialogue is in Japanese, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. As one would expect from Criterion, this release includes a number of impressive bonus features, most notably a commentary track from film historian Tony Rayns, who delivers an intelligent appraisal of the film's style and approach, the work of director Oshima, the true story that inspired the picture and sex in Japanese cinema. The disc also includes a short 2003 documentary on the making of the film (featuring interviews with a number of key production personnel), a 1976 television interview with Oshima, Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, a new interview with Fuji conducted for this release, a handful of brief scenes cut from the film, and the original U.S. release trailer. Finally, the thick and beautifully designed booklet that comes with this set contains a thoughtful, literate essay from Japanese film historian Donald Richie and highlights from a 1983 magazine interview with Nagisa Oshima. In The Realm Of The Senses is far more than "just a sex film," and this DVD release offers a splendid opportunity to investigate its fusion of the sensual and the philosophical.
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    Special Features

    • New Audio Commentary featuring the film critic Tony Rayns
    • New Interview with Actor Tatsuya Fuji
    • A 1976 Interview with Director Nagisa Oshima and Actors Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, and a 2003 program featuring interviews with consulting producer Hayao Shibata, Line Producer Koji Wakamatsu, Assistant Director Yoichi Sai, and Film Distributor Yoko Asakura
    • Deleted footage and U.S. Trailer
    • Plus, a booklet featuring an essay by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie and a reprinted interview with Oshima


    In the Realm of the Senses
    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

    Cast & Crew

    • Image coming soon
      Eiko Matsuda - Sada
    • Tatsuya Fuji
      Tatsuya Fuji - Kichi-zo
    • Image coming soon
      Aoi Nakajima - Toku
    • Image coming soon
      Yasuko Matsui - Manageress of Inn
    • Akiko Koyama
      Akiko Koyama - Geisha

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.