In the Realm of the Senses

Porn without plot. Completely worthless.

The best part of this film is researching the subject matter referenced in it and the controversy it generated. Preferably, this can be done while the film scrolls in the background, it does not warrant your full attention.

The film itself is 90 minutes of straight up porn between people in kimonos and ugly guys. The intervals between orgasms are beautiful period shots of people on the way to the next fucking location.

There are “funny” scenes too. A drunkard is being belittled by some kids who are uncovering him and hitting him in the dick with either snowballs or rocks. He is rescued by the local courtesan posse. Sex does not ensue because he is too soft for her, so he just jerks off at the sight of the protagonist’s hairy fanny. Ample views of human glans are present.

The most jarring scene is where our protagonist is baby sitting some kids running around and out of the blue she goes for the kid’s penis. I still don’t know what the heck was that about, but thankfully (or not), the scene cut for something else right away.

Despite pearls such as the described above, this is still seen as avant-garde commentary on militarism or some crap. It’s on the Criterion collection, for crying out loud. Here is an essay about it, where the author tries to define pornography with IMHO valid arguments and then applies to them to this film. Bizarrely, it concludes this is not porn, it “challenges” porn’s assumptions.

In the Realm of the Senses certainly satisfies none of these porno requirements. Rather, it actively challenges such assumptions. It is truly subversive: it questions current mores, political as well as sexual, and in so doing, it offers the interested viewer a lesson in the psychological dynamics of film technique.

The controversy would not be complete with the Catholic church foaming at the mouth at people having sex for non-procreative purposes. It reached insanity levels when a certain Portuguese bishop was quoted:

I learned more by watching 10 minutes of this film than in the rest of my life.

Words to live by.


This is my place for ramblings about sequences of images that exploit the human visual limitation know as persistence of vision.

Ephemera of Vision