ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
have imagined that Nagisa Oshima's 1976 movie, Ai No Corida (In
The Realm Of The Senses) would have been the last word on the
subject but so far there have been two other films based on the
subject - Noboru Tanaka's A Woman Called Sada Abe (1975) and Obayashi
Nobuhiko's Sada (1998).
Of the three
movies, Nobuhiko's Sada can be considered the most chaste and
genteel. Sure there is a lot of f**king going on. Given the story
of a pair of sex-obsessed lovers, it would be impossible to shoot
the movie without any hint of sex. Yet the film does not show
any full bodied nudity. Even if actress Hitomi Kuroki (as Sada
Abe) may look like she's topless, she always manages to have a
jacket or a coverlet over her breasts. [Newer audiences might
remember Kuroki as the besieged mother in the Japanese version
of Dark Water.]
last act, the film is generally light, easy-going and even comical.
Unlike the serious tone of the other films, Nobuhiko mixes in
colour and black-and-white shots, slow motion and high-speed photography,
giving certain scenes an avant-garde feel while highlighting the
comical aspects in others.
black-and-white shot is a nostalgic look at Sada as a young girl
and the black-and-white shot as she lay bleeding the first time
she has sex are strong images. Later, as a prostitute servicing
a client, the speeded-up shots do not reflect any of her feelings,
rather they make light of what she does. Likewise the speeded-up
catfight between Sada and restaurant mistress (Toshie Negishi)
is played strictly for laughs.
in Nobuhiko's Sada notions of repressed sexuality and the patriarchal
treatment of women but with petite Hitomi Kuroki in the lead,
she comes across more like a wilful child than someone who is
championing a cause. Throughout most of the movie, she displays
an almost laissez-faire attitude toward sex and her body - as
indicated by the montage of male faces when she's servicing a
client - so much so that the writers needed to insert a line where
she says she finally found a sex/soul mate in inn owner Tatsuzo
Kikumoto (Tsurutaro Kataoka). Otherwise how else to explain her
sudden obsession with the man?
rather frivolous nature of the bulk of the movie, the drama and
the pathos in the last act feels jarring and forced. The intensity
in the strangulation and dismemberment scenes here is nowhere
compared to that shown in Noboru Tanaka's film. Contrary to popular
impressions of the story, Sada was not arrested on the street.
She was arrested at a hotel room and, according to this movie,
she did carry the dismembered penis in her sash. On the other
hand, what Nobuhiko adds is a little coda showing that while Sada
was jailed for six years, she had an early release; she remarried
under a different name, and even toured Japan with a production
of her life story.
might be commended for attempting the Abe Sada story without showing
any nudity but after the films by Nagisa Oshima and Noboru Tanaka,
why be coy now?
The Sada (Panorama) DVD is banned in $ingapore.