_Understanding the Obsession_, a psychological examination of the main character's sexual compulsions in Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses".

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Japanese Cinema


In the Realm of the Senses:

Understanding the Obsession

When Oshima Nagisa decided to take on the historical story of the prostitute Sada's eventually murderous affair with the husband of a brothel owner he chose to present a story of an event embroiled with passion, obsession, deception and gratuitous amounts of sex. With the choice that many consider daring and that was certainly avant-garde of pulling no punches in the portrayal of the sexual relationship between Sada and Kichi-san, indeed going so far as to have the actors actually engage in the majority of the sex acts themselves Oshima produced what is perhaps one of the most startlingly accurate portrayals of sexual compulsives to date.

The typical response of viewers to Oshima's film is some level of awe, either good or bad, at the level of practically pornographic realism filmed with Oshima's personal deep color wash and non-intrusive cinematography.

By the sheer act of repetition of the graphic sex the viewer becomes numbed to it, eventually requiring the ostentatious ness and fetishism of the acts to constantly one-up the preceding scene to the point that what becomes shocking or at least interesting is the new levels to which the partners portrayed in the film have moved to, levels very few audience members would be comfortable admitting to in public themselves. The unfortunate side effect of this is that most viewers end up missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. The true issue of the film to grapple with is the social climate of mid 1930's, perhaps even 1970's Japan, and what Oshima is saying about it in his portrayal of a historical incident.

An amateur psychological analysis of Sada and Kichi-san leads to the understanding that they both suffer from multiple paraphilias. Webmd.com defines...