Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 26
In the Realm of the Senses October 8, 1976
In the Realm of the Senses released in Japan

On this day in 1976, one of the most controversial movies of all time, Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (aka Ai No Corrida), opened in Oshima’s native Japan. The sexually explicit film told the real-life tale of the torrid love affair between hotel maid Sada Abe and her boss Kichizo Ishida, which famously ended when Abe asphyxiated Ishida during sex, and then cut off his penis and testicles (which she then carried in her handbag). Any film tackling this subject would inevitably been mired in controversy, however Oshima pushed the envelope even further during the production of the movie by having his actors Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji engage in unsimulated sex for their highly charged love scenes. To get around Japanese censorship laws, In the Realm of the Senses was deemed a French film, with the footage being sent to France, where it was subsequently edited. When Oshima had completed the film, he premiered it in May 1976 at the Cannes Film Festival, where interest was so great that an unprecedented 13 screenings had to be organized. When the film was released in Japan in October of that year, five minutes had been cut from the original 113 minute version, and many shots had been blurred to obscure the actors’ nudity. The fact that Senses was released in Japan at all was impressive: it was banned after screenings at the New York and Berlin Film Festivals (though both rulings were later overturned), and wasn’t publicly shown in Britain or Canada until the 1990s. In 2000, a full-length version entitled Ai No Corrida 2000 was finally released in Japan, although the actors’ genitalia were still obscured, this time by pixelation.


More Flashbacks
Casablanca November 26, 1942
Casablanca released

In New York City, stars, including Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, gathered for the premiere of Casablanca.

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November 26, 1993
Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould released

Few knew what to expect from a film called Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould when it opened in New York.

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November 26, 1993
A Life in Fragments

In the same month and year that Jane Campion’s The Piano was released, going on be nominated for 8 Oscars and winning three, a little known filmmaker from Toronto, François Girard, released Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a bio-pic of sorts about the man that many consider to be one of the world’s greatest pianist. Taking its structure from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the film mixes short pieces of documentary, animation, narrative (with Colm Feore playing Gould), and performance to throw light on this complex artist. Girard commented that “as Gould was such a complex character, the biggest problem was to find a way to look at his work and deal with his visions. The film is built of fragments, each one trying to capture an aspect of Gould.” The film also helped break open the biopic genre to all sorts of experimentation and transformation, as well as becoming iconic for innovative cinema. In 1996, for example, The Simpsons released their own tribute "22 Short Films About Springfield."

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