NINE ½ WEEKS directed by Adrian Lyne (USA, 1986)
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES directed by Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1976)
I know it’s a bit of a contrived exercise to write a post about these controversial sex movies together but since I’ve just watched them back to back I thought a carnal compare and contrast exercise might prove revealing.
In 9½ Weeks, we don’t get to see what Monty Python always used to call “the naughty bits” save for a brief glimpse of Elisabeth’s (i.e. Kim Basinger’s) “heart-shaped ass”. Anyone viewing this movie for technical tips on the art of ‘lurve’ might be led to believe that the removal of designer clothing is not necessary to have penetrative sex.
Mickey Rourke as John Grey looks impossibly slim and charming here, as charismatic as he was as the ‘motorcycle boy’ in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumblefish. He may be a control freak but it’s not hard to see how Elisabeth would fall for his winning smile.
The kinky sex is what the reputation of this movie hangs on but it all looks pretty tame by modern standards. You could easily envisage the food porn scene being done as a parody in an Austin Powers film.
John gets Elisabeth to close her eyes and proceeds to spoonfeed her a range of food and drink items. A green chilli is included to spice things up, while guzzling milk (she swallows), getting sprayed by fizzy water and being smeared in sticky honey are non too subtle semen substitutes.
In terms of erotic, S & M content, you’ll find more danger and decadence in a Rihanna video than you get here, and much better dancing.
We see John in a shop, testing the swish on a riding crop and, since horses don’t figure much in his field of interests, we can assume he means to put this item to some other use. But crawling across the floor picking up cash is the limit of the degradation he submits Elisabeth to.
She is blindfolded twice but the first time she is reduced to a squirming mass of desire by blocks of ice and the second time she is felt up by a Latino hooker. On a scale of sadistic abuse it ranks fairly low and mostly requires that you read all the suggestive signals as we don’t see anything too risqué.
In The Realm Of The Senses was made a decade before but is ten times more daring and raunchy than anything the English filmmaker attempts.
Nothing here is left to the imagination. Not only do we see plenty of naked flesh and heaving buttocks but we get numerous graphic shots of non-simulated intercourse and fellatio.
If there were gold medals for sexual endurance ( a ‘bonkothon’ perhaps) then Kichi (Tatsuya Fuji) would sweep the board. His stamina is something to behold; after each session he’s up and ready to go at it again with any female who crosses his path.
His principal partner is ex-prostitute turned house maid Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda). Kichi pauses only to take on food and have a piss but Sada is so insatiable that even these activities are incorporated into the erotic repertoire. She dips finger snacks in her vagina and begs him to urinate into her.
Needless to say, both movies end badly for the copulators. Rourke gets ditched after his control urges get just too freakish. He tries to win Basinger back with a sob story of how he had to make his way in the world from humble beginnings but this fails to save his bacon(“It’s too late, John”).
Still, by the side of Kichi he gets off lightly. For one, he’s still alive to search for other chicks to dominate.
Kichi dies as he lives, in seeking one multiple orgasm too many he is accidentally strangled during some frenzied lovemaking. Sada needs a keepsake and in the film’s ‘look away now’ moment cuts off his penis with a meat cleaver.
Both movies explore and exploit the notion that , for sex connoisseurs, fornication has to have an edge of danger and decadence to keep it exciting. To maintain the desired level of intensity the sex games need to become more and more daring. As a consequence there is the ever-present possibility of exploitation and abuse.
Perhaps there’s something to be said for the humble missionary position after all.