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Cult Vault #32: Oren Moverman on In the Realm of the Senses

Screenwriter Oren Moverman selects Nagisa Oshima's French-Japanese erotic art film

Taken from the Decemeber 2012 issue of Dazed & Confused: 

Oren Moverman cut his teeth writing screenplays (including Todd Haynes’s experimental 2007 Dylan biopic I’m Not There) before making his directing debut with The Messenger (2009). He followed this up with Rampart (2011), starring Woody Harrelson as a volatile LA cop spiralling into breakdown, and is currently adapting William Burroughs’s Queer for Steve Buscemi to direct. For Cult Vault, he chose Nagisa Oshima’s controversial tale of erotic obsession, In the Realm of the Senses, which features unsimulated sex, dismemberment and autoerotic asphyxiation, all of which got it banned in most countries on its release in 1976. 

“Bleecker Street Cinema, early 80s. I winced at the climax (the movie’s climax, not the characters’, which are plentiful). Chekhovian hard-ons as a country marches to war. The end of masculinity. Pornography slowed down to find cinematic expressions for the language of human needs. The Japanese theatre of sex. The universal power of love – deadly. Decadence. Laughing at the wrong moment of dismemberment. My mind is blown. Is there nothing the screen can’t hold? The goal of art is not to be great but to be daring. Sometimes it’s both.”