Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In the Realm of the Senses: an another dimension

Is “In the Realm of the Senses” pure artistic expression or a hyped porn film? That is the debate that has always followed ‘In the Realm of the Senses’, since its release in 1976.
Actually this film extended the boundary of film craft further more. The film is Honest to its core and very objective in nature and attitude.
Based on the true-life 1930s story of Sada Abe and her lover Kichizo Ishida, Nagisa Oshima’s film contains many scenes of un-simulated sex, both between the main two characters and a number of the less-prominent roles. “Explicit scene” is the only base upon which all arguments existed or the film was banned. By overcoming those “Explicit scene”, the film pushing itself furthers more, beyond contemporary film ethics. So there is a demand on viewer how to accept it is depending on own ethics of viewer.
The film is an example of truly honest piece of filmmaking. Those real sexes as actors acted upon it were very important part of the film. Objectiveness and raw sensitivity of these scenes were not provocative but viewed as human acts in desire. Showing genitals of both man and woman and penetration does not swipe it to a porn film but very wise depiction of human acts same as like eating, fighting etc. As those scenes not choreographed for purpose of only sex acts and profit making porn business, it can be separated from porn tag. Again this film differs from documentary because the film deploys very firmly human emotion like passion, love, jealousy etc. on its own terms.
The story of Sada Abe, the plotline of the film revolves around her relationship with Kichizo Ishida, a married man, a land lord, who is the owner of the hotel where Abe (a former prostitute) has recently been employed as a maid. One morning, with another maid, they sneak out to Ishida’s dwelling, where they both watch him make love to his wife. Sada’s eyes light up and it is at this point that her obsession with Ishida begins and its increases with time mathematically like 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 10...........to infinity.
The constant nature of their sexual activities, along with the way in which their bodies almost become one, is really amplified by the graphicness of the sex scenes frame by frame with calculated manner. All frame fit to proper visual and proper angle. Never used unnecessary shot to provoke or exhibits unauthenticated sex acts which can be seen as purposeless. Selecting of frame and angle is tightly mathematical with time passes and all scenes contain only required frame angle and objects of body. The penetration shown only in last sex act when Sada is strangling Ishida while making love to him. With top angle it quietly reflects two fatal acts, desire and killing, penetration and strangling. Two humans actually engaged in the act of sex, with no limitations, or reservations about their bodies, the film manages to perfectly portray the desperation that Abe has to be with Ishida, and how she feels completely at one with him. The slight boundaries that were initially in place between them are constantly broken, and even food is brought into the love making process. Smell also part of mood and ambience of the film as we see in one scene where the pensive Sada turns away a maid offering to clean the room. When told that it smells, Sada replies that "We like it". And she is disconsolate when she returns to find that the room has been cleaned in her absence, and their carefully cultivated smell is gone. She became violent again fearing losing Kichizo Ishida. The ingredient for self-destruction is sealed the moment, violence gets brought into the relationship, and with Abe’s increasing jealously at the thought of Ishida with other women, the tension in the final scenes of the film is almost fatal and self-destructive.
Oshima was sticking to his principles and while executing the film in the manner that he reflected the state of the relationship between two human (Abe and Ishida) through film very different in perspective but honest. It is certainly a highly emotional experience, and one that will have audience on tender hooks all the way until the inevitable ending. The shocking, controversial and influential film that outraged censorship boards the world over, and was banned for twenty years. This film does not attempt to treat Sada's sad history, her background, something that may explain her odd behavior. Far from pretending to be a documentary, this view considers only the snippet of life between Sada's first meeting with her lover and acts between them to the end of physical existence of Ishida. But this short snippet of Sada's apparently long life is full of action. And director Oshima uses this action to try to lure audience into the heady, raw sensual world inhabited by a man and a woman.
It was mostly said that strangling Ishida to death by Sada was final act of their desire and wish for to be one and to attained extreme pleasure. But scene before final act we see Kichizo Ishida on the street was walking opposite to marching of soldiers. Walking opposite side of the street from people alone, and expression on his face is sad and feared. This scene was very intentionally established and it relates other factor to the film. Although compared to activeness and aggression of Sada we see Ishida was mostly passive most of the time. So allow Sada to strangle him to death in the name of desire and extreme pleasure is questionable also. And it can be seen as also wish to die or an escape. As with feudal background Ishida feared by new Japan, new people and collapsing situation of feudal system. When Sada did not aware of this realm of Ishida, as she was fully under trance of only desire and lust, Ishida grasp the situation and uses Sada cleverly to kill himself. So it can be described as a clever escape from life through desire and submission.
Some other films those dwell in this same kind of Film zone are:“Idiots” by Lars von Trier
“9 Songs” by Michael Winterbottom
“Anatomy of Hell” by Catherine Breillat.

And again the basic criterion to making this kind of film is wisdom, wisdom of life, which is generated from raw life, vast experience. So only with gimmickry this kind of film can’t be made. Attempts are made in some corner of world and delivered a few examples of films mostly with flat result. Nagisha oshima’s film is still unique by all mean and attaining this legacy is not easier to conceive as it looked.

2 Earthling’s comments:

atin said...

hats off , never seen a better review in a personal tone :)
M a fan of jap / korean movies too
mostly i have seen black n white jap movie

noni said...

thx for visiting

i like Korean movies too and some Iranian movies also...

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