I have a vague memory of being a teenager and overhearing my friends talking about a French-Japanese film that “has so much sex in it, it’s like porn.”
By then, this art film (released in 1976) inspired by the true story of a former prostitute’s affair with a married man had already shocked a number of audiences with its explicit scenes, some of which show real sex between the actors. In the Realm of the Senses was censored in Japan, initially banned in the US, limited to private cinema clubs in the UK and its uncut video version was not released until year 2000. That’s around the time my friends got hold of it, but it was only 18 years later that I finally watched it.
What I discovered was a beautifully shot, erotic movie in which the strength with which feeling and desire are portrayed justifies much of its explicitness. Judge for yourself, as the Filmoteca de Catalunya will be screening the original version of Nagisa Oshima’s alluring film on May 9th.