The Most Disturbing Nude Scenes Ever Filmed

At the end of the 1976 Japanese classic “In the Realm of the Senses,” Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) erotically asphyxiates Kichizō Ishida (Tatsuya Fuji) to death, and then castrates him in order to carry his penis inside her wherever she goes. If that sounds disturbing, wait until you see how director Nagisa Ōshima shot it.

There are many components to the scene’s singular, unshakable, medium-shattering power. True to his penchant for tasteful ornamentation, Ōshima surrounds the moment of the castration itself with immaculately rendered, albeit morbid, mutual pleasure — shots upon shots of Sada and Ishida inching towards a relaxed bliss, the bliss of lovers who have truly fallen into the abyss of each other. Even as she strangles him, there’s a sense of every image and every movement being just right, irresistible in their cumulative gorgeousness.

And then she simply takes the knife and does it, in close-up, her hands calm but her face possessed, like it’s not unwatchably revolting. The process is slow, and Ōshima depicts it as such, never flinching, not even from his own established rule of beauty. It’s another masterfully composed shot, as clear and simple as it is to describe: She cuts off his penis. Were it not the work of an artist so savvy and intelligent, you’d think the film sees nothing out of the ordinary about what Sada is doing. But of course, it’s all very deliberate — the most indelible possible version of a scene that would be indelible regardless.

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