Sex in film
Sex in film is the presence of sexuality in a film. Since the development of the medium, the presence in films of any form of sexuality has been controversial. Some films containing sex scenes have been criticized by religious groups or have been banned or the subject of censorship by governments, or both. In countries with a film rating system, films containing sex scenes typically receive a restricted classification. Nudity in film may be regarded as sexual or as non-sexual.
An erotic film is usually a film that has an erotic quality that causes the creation of sexual feelings, as well as a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love.
Love scenes, erotic or not, have been present in films since the silent era of cinematography. A pornographic film, on the other hand, is a sex film which does not usually claim any artistic merit. Sex scenes have been presented in many genres of film, although there are some in which it is rare. Many actors and actresses have performed nude or partial nude scenes, or have dressed and behaved in ways considered sexually provocative by contemporary standards at some point in their careers.
Sex in film can be distinguished from a sex film, which usually refers to a pornographic film and sometimes to a sex education film. It should also be distinguished from nudity in film, though nudity can be presented in a sexualized context. For example, nudity in the context of naturism would normally be regarded as non-sexual. Some people distinguish between "gratuitous sex" and sex scenes which are presented as integral to a film's plot or as part of the character development.
As actors take high risk and are highly vulnerable by the sex scenes, it is important that actors sign up an agreement and have an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the scene to prioritize their safety. Therefore, if the movie/TV show will have any simulated sex or nude scenes, then before signing the contract, the production gives a written nudity rider for actors to sign. A nudity rider is a written agreements between production and actors to agree on terms of details of the sex scenes and the surroundings of the studio when the sex scenes will be shot. One of the agreements is that while an intimate scene is being shot, only people associated with the scene or material can stay. Also, taking photographs is not allowed, and these scenes are not used in the promotion of the film, unless that is part of the agreement. Body doubles, a person replacing the performer, can be used only if the performer gives consent, or if the performer who initially agreed to the scene later decided against it. The agreements apply to auditions too. Also, the agreements should include the detailed descriptions including how much the actors have to be nude, i.e. nude or semi-nude, and information on their attire.
To tackle the physical and psychological safety of the actors involved in sex scenes, Intimacy Directors International (IDI), a not for profit organization was established. According to IDI, IDI has an intimacy coordinator who works with actors and does following:
- Work professionally with actors to set rules when they engage in any type of sex scenes that includes simulated sex, nudity, and intimate scenes.
- They are the bridge between actors and producers.
- Direct scenes where it includes simulated sex, nudity and intimacy scenes.
- Support actors and advocate for them.
The production can hire the IDI's intimacy coordinator if the following situations arises:
- If the scene include simulated sex or nudity of any kind, and they need a nudity rider, then they should hire an intimacy coordinator.
- If an actor needs help in dealing with sensitive material.
- If the director needs help directing a sex scene.
- If the production wants to make specific rules for the actors to feel safer.
Since the 2010s, film and TV productions increasingly employ intimacy coordinators to ensure the wellbeing of actors who participate in sex scenes, and to help prevent harassment and violations of consent.
Pedro Almodóvar of Spain is a prolific director who has included eroticism in many of his movies. Tinto Brass of Italy has dedicated his career to bringing explicit sexuality into mainstream cinema. His films are also notable for feminist-friendly eroticism. French filmmaker Catherine Breillat caused controversy with unsimulated sex in her films Romance (1999) and Anatomy of Hell (2004). In Italy, nudity and strong sexual themes go back to the silent era with films such as The Last Days of Pompeii (1926). Lars von Trier of Denmark has included explicit/unsimulated sex scenes in some of his films, such as Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Manderlay (2005), Antichrist (2009), and Nymphomaniac (2013). He is also a co-founder of film company Puzzy Power, a subsidiary of his Zentropa, with the goal of producing hardcore pornographic films for women. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013) sparked an international firestorm over its frank depiction of sexuality between two young women, yet managed to win the Palme d'Or, the highest prize awarded at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. Love (2015) contains many explicit unsimulated sex scenes.
The inclusion in film of any form of sexuality has been controversial since the development of the medium. Kissing in films, for example, was initially considered by some to be scandalous. The Kiss (1896) contained a kiss, which was regarded as a sex scene and drew general outrage from movie goers, civic leaders, and religious leaders, as utterly shocking, obscene and completely immoral. One contemporary critic wrote, "The spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other's lips was beastly enough in life size on the stage but magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over it is absolutely disgusting." The Catholic Church called for censorship and moral reform - because kissing in public at the time could lead to prosecution. Perhaps in defiance of the righteous indignation and "to spice up a film", the film was followed by many kiss imitators, including The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899) and The Kiss (1900). Other producers would take the criticism on board, or in mock of the standard, and use an implicit kiss, which would be obstructed from view just as the lips would touch, such as shielding a possible kiss by placing say a hat in front of the actors' faces, or fading to grey just as a kiss is to take place, etc.
The display of cleavage created controversy. For example, producer Howard Hughes displayed Jane Russell's cleavage in The Outlaw (1943) and in The French Line (1953), which was found objectionable under the Hays Code because of Russell's "breast shots in bathtub, cleavage and breast exposure" while some of her decollete gowns were regarded to be "intentionally designed to give a bosom peep-show effect beyond even extreme decolletage". Both films were condemned by the National Legion of Decency and were released only in cut versions.
The selection of actresses for a role on the basis of their breast size is controversial and has been described as contributing to breast fetishism, but has proved to be a draw card. Producers such as Russ Meyer produced films which featured actresses with large breasts. Lorna (1964) was the first of his films where the main female part, played by Lorna Maitland, was selected on the basis of breast size. The producers and exhibitors of the film were prosecuted for obscenity in several US states. Other large breasted actresses used by Meyer include Kitten Natividad, Erica Gavin, Tura Satana, and Uschi Digard among many others. The majority of them were naturally large breasted and he occasionally cast women in their first trimesters of pregnancy to enhance their breast size even further. Author and director William Rotsler said: "with Lorna Meyer established the formula that made him rich and famous, the formula of people filmed at top hate, top lust, top heavy."
Blue Movie (1969), directed by Andy Warhol, was the first adult erotic film depicting explicit sex to receive wide theatrical release in the United States. Blue Movie is a seminal film in the Golden Age of Porn and, according to Warhol, a major influence in the making of Last Tango in Paris (1972), an internationally controversial erotic drama film. Another explicit adult film of that period was Mona the Virgin Nymph (1970) that contained a number of unsimulated non-penetrative sex scenes. Unlike Blue Movie, however, Mona had a plot. To forestall legal problems, the film was screened without credits. The producer of Mona, Bill Osco, went on to produce other adult films, such as Flesh Gordon (1974), Harlot (1971), and Alice in Wonderland (1976).
Boys in the Sand (1971) was an American gay pornographic film, the first gay porn film to include credits, to achieve crossover success, to be reviewed by Variety, and one of the earliest porn films, after Blue Movie to gain mainstream credibility, preceding Deep Throat (1972).
In North America, erotic films may be primarily character driven or plot driven, with considerable overlap. Most dramas center around character development, such as Steven Shainberg's Secretary (2002). Comedy films, especially romantic comedies and romantic dramas, tend toward character interaction.
Mystery films, thrillers, drama and horror films tend toward strong plots and premises, such as Last Tango in Paris (1972), Dressed to Kill (1980), Body Heat (1981), Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986), Angel Heart (1987), Basic Instinct (1992), Single White Female (1992), Color of Night (1994), Showgirls (1995), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Total Eclipse (1995), Different Strokes (1997), Wild Things (1998), Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and In the Cut (2003). Others, like About Last Night... (1986), Monster's Ball (2001), Chloe (2009), Love & Other Drugs (2010), Blue Valentine (2010), Shame (2011), Compliance (2012) and The Sessions (2012) combine both strong plots and characters.
Erotic thrillers are a popular American erotic subgenre, with films such as Dressed to Kill (1980), Angel Heart (1987), Basic Instinct (1992), Single White Female (1992), Color of Night (1994), The Maddening (1995), Wild Things (1998), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), In the Cut (2003), Chloe (2009), Compliance (2012), and The Boy Next Door (2015). In some films, the development of a sexual relationship (or even a one-night stand) is often used to create tension in the storyline, especially if the people involved should not be sleeping together, such as in Out of Sight (1998), where a U.S. Marshal has sex with the criminal she is pursuing.
In horror films, sex is often used to mark characters that are doomed to die. Characters that engage in sex acts are often the first to be claimed by the antagonist(s), or will die shortly after their sex scene or (sometimes) in the middle of it. This convention of it being bad luck to have sex in a horror film is notably illustrated in the Friday the 13th film series, where supernatural villain Jason Voorhees takes a special dislike to teenagers and young adults having sex because, as a young boy, he drowned in a lake while the camp counselors who should have been supervising him were having sex.
In some interpretations of this "rule", the sex acts themselves directly cause the character's demise. In Cabin Fever, a man catches the deadly illness because a woman who was infected (but not yet symptomatic) seduces and has impulsive sex with him. They don't use a condom because the careless woman believes she is healthy. Ironically, the woman (and the audience) only realize that she is infected because of red welts that are brought out by their rough lovemaking. Species (1995) and its sequels also feature many sexual deaths as virtually every human who mates with an alien in the franchise subsequently dies - female aliens kill human suitors regardless of whether they have poor genes, resist the alien's advances, or mate successfully. Human women who mate with alien men die shortly after sex as their abdomens burst during the unnaturally rapid pregnancy that always follows.
Most times in horror movies the typical survivor is a young girl who is still a virgin. In the film Scream, which satirizes horror movies, this rule is somewhat broken as the character Randy Meeks points out that one of the rules of horrors is to not have sex. In an intersecting scene, the film's main protagonist Sidney Prescott loses her virginity to Billy Loomis. After they finish, Billy is stabbed by Ghostface and Sidney is then chased. Randy himself survives a gunshot wound at the end of the film because, as he explains, he is a virgin. However, he dies in the sequel, Scream 2, after which it is revealed that he lost his virginity sometime prior to his death.
In Mexico, many comedy films are based on sex, typically portraying men as unstoppable sex-seeking creatures and women as willing targets. Although the number of such comedies waned during the 1990s, domestic servants, bar workers, dancers and neighbors' wives continue to be depicted as potentially willing sexual partners. The films La Tarea (1991), Miracle Alley (1995) and Y Tu Mamá También (2001) are some of the most important examples of this.
The entertainment industry is an important part of modern India, and is expressive of Indian society in general. Historically, Indian television and film has lacked the frank depiction of sex. Kissing scenes, for example, were banned by Indian film censors until the 1990s. Since then the entertainment industry has liberalized but the taboo against them continues well into the 2010s, with many of Bollywood stars refusing to do them, and controversy and debate sparked when actors choose to do them. On the other hand, rape scenes or scenes showing sexual assault were common until approximately the early 2000s. Mainstream films are still largely catered for the masses of India, however, art films and foreign films containing sexuality are watched by Indians. Because of the same process of glamorization of film entertainment that occurs in Hollywood, Indian cinema, mainly the Hindi-speaking Bollywood industry, is also beginning to add sexual overtones.
Many drama series, and daytime soap operas are based around sex. This commonly revolves around the development of personal relationships of the main characters, with a view of creating sexual tension in the series.
Partial nudity was considered acceptable on daytime television in the 1970s but disappeared after 2000, partly due to more conservative morals, and also to the prevalence of cable and satellite subscriptions. Only PBS occasionally features nudity.
In 2008 and 2009, the French TV channel Canal+ featured a series titled X Femmes (English: X Women), which consisted of ten short films shot by female directors with the goal of producing erotica from a female point of view.
Same-sex scenes in mainstream cinema
Since approximately 2010, many mainstream films have shown sexual scenes between lesbian couples. There have been various films which have been made which mainly focus on exploring the relationship between lesbian women. Because of the limited films featuring same-sex sex scenes before 2010s, researchers were unable to research people's views on the intimate scenes between lesbians. In 2016, researchers Maria T. Soto-Sanfiel and Adriana Ibiti created a report on pleasurable sensations created by watching sexual scenes between lesbian couples. People, including heterosexual individuals, reported that the scenes had different effects on their sexual arousal. The reasons were different for everyone who identified themselves as either heterosexual or homosexual, male or female. Lesbian women said that it brought back memories of their own experience and created pleasurable sensations while watching it. Heterosexual women said that they got the same pleasurable sensations as watching heterosexual sex scenes. Heterosexual men related the scenes to their memories of pornography. Gay men preferred seeing heterosexual scenes because they could imagine themselves in place of the women.
French film La vie d'Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Color, in English), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, was released in October 2013. The film is about a high school student Adele who lusts after art student Lea and falls in love with her. The film explores the lesbian relationship between them and their transformation as characters. To showcase their developing characters, the three-hour long film contained almost ten minutes of sexual scenes between them. These scenes were so long that even heterosexual scenes in movies have not exceeded the length. The scenes were shot in a close-up manner, showing great detail with bold and intimate camera angles. Many critics said that if it was not a film, the sex scenes would be close to pornography. The sex scenes were controversial and received mixed reviews. France set the age limit to 12 years, Singapore 21 years, and Brazil opposed to print blue-rays. The movie earned around $20 million in US and Europe. It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the highest award, Palme d'Or. It also won many international awards around the world. A film Carol, directed by Todd Haynes, was released in November 2015, also caught a lot of attention. The movie was about a young woman named Therese Belivet (played by Rooney Mara), who falls in love with an older women named Carol Aird (played by Cate Blanchett). It's set during Christmas, 1952, and Therese is working at the Manhattan upscale department store, where she meets Carol who is buying toys for her daughter. Carol intentionally forgets her gloves, and invites Therese for lunch. Therese goes to Carol's house and finds out about her difficulties where her husband is trying to get a divorce. Carol's husband Harge (played by Kyle Chandler) accidentally sees Carol with Therese while he was picking up their daughter to take her to France. If proof about Carol's homosexuality is found, Harge can convict her and take full custody of their daughter and restrict her from visiting her. Harge hires an investigator to prove Carol's homosexuality. On the New Year's Eve, Carol and Therese have sex for the first time. Later, they found out that they were being recorded and the evidence was already sent to Harge. Therefore, Carol requests Harge to keep their daughter in custody but let her visit her. Carol and Theresa finally unite at the end. The movie included 3 minutes of sex scenes between Carol and Theresa. The sex scenes are carefully shot with the actors shown half nude, and it does not contain explicit scenes. Haynes while talking about the production of the sex scenes said that actors pretend that they are not nervous, but he added that: "But they are. So I try to create an environment that's comfortable and predictable. You set your shots, get rid of people that don't need to be there - and then you basically just go." In the past, sex scenes between same-sex couple not only made the actors uncomfortable, but they were also stigmatized, considered shocking or even immoral. But, this has changed greatly and many movies about same-sex relationships have been made.
In addition to an increasing focus on relationships between lesbians in film, but there are also many recent movies that focus on gay male relationships as well. An Italian movie Call me by your name, directed by Luca Guadagnino, was released on January 2017. The film is about a 17-year-old American-Jewish, named Elio (played by Timothee Chalamet) forming a relationship with a 24-year old graduate student Oliver. The movie is set in the summer of 1983, where Elio is a son of archaeology Professor, Professor Perlmann. Professor Perlmann invites his annual assistant for the year, Oliver, who will live with them during this time. Elio does not have much interest in Oliver in the beginning. During the summer, Elio reads books, listens to music, or stays with his girlfriend, Marzia. Oliver tries to annoy Elio by telling him that he has a crush on a local girl. Elio tries to annoy Oliver by starting a sexual relationship with his girlfriend Marzia. But, soon, Elio starts getting attracted to Oliver. Elio asks to have a relationship with Oliver, but Oliver does not agree initially. But, later that day, they kiss. After Elio insists on meeting him, Oliver agrees, and meets him at midnight where they both have sex. As their relationship progresses, they keep getting more closer to each other physically and emotionally, and they have sex multiple times while keeping their relationship secret. It also becomes clear that Elio's parents knew about their relationship. Before Oliver leaves, Elio's parents recommend they go to Bergamo. Later, after Oliver leaves, Elio is sad and his father talks about how he was also in this same type of relationship before. He ask him to stay strong and learn from it. At the end, Oliver calls Elio's parents telling them he is engaged to be married. The movie ends with Elio's being sad and in sorrow. The sex scenes included showed the actors half naked and the scenes were short.
- "Eroticism". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Firemark, Gordon (2015-11-02). "Nudity Riders - What they are, why you need them". Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
- "Our Organization". intimacydirection. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
- Martinelli, Marissa (29 October 2018). "HBO Will Use "Intimacy Coordinators" for All of Its Sex Scenes". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
- The Chap-book, Volume 5, Number 5, July 15, 1896
- Sex in Cinema: Pre-1920s
- Doherty, Thomas & Doherty, Thomas Patrick (2007). Hollywood's censor: Joseph I. Breen & the Production Code Administration. Columbia University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-231-14358-5.
- Latteier 1998, p. 117
- Meyer, Russ (2000). A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer (3 volume set). (Under the pseudonym "Adolph Albion Schwartz"). El Rio, TX: Hauck Pub Co. ISBN 0-9621797-2-8.
- McDonough, Jimmy (2005). Big bosoms and square jaws : the biography of Russ Meyer, king of the sex film. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07250-1., p.138
- Canby, Vincent (July 22, 1969). "Movie Review - Blue Movie (1968) Screen: Andy Warhol's 'Blue Movie'". New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Canby, Vincent (August 10, 1969). "Warhol's Red Hot and 'Blue' Movie. D1. Print. (behind paywall)". New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Comenas, Gary (2005). "Blue Movie (1968)". WarholStars.org. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- "Pornography". Pornography Girl. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
The first explicitly pornographic film with a plot that received a general theatrical release in the U.S. is generally considered to be Mona (Mona the Virgin Nymph)...
- "Flesh Gordon Interview 3". PicPal.com. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Powell, Mimi; Scott Dagostino; Bhisham Kinha. "The Porn Power List". FAB magazine. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
- "40 Years of Gay History: the Early Seventies". Advocate.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
- Jeffrey Escoffier, "Beefcake to Hardcore: Gay Pornography and the Sexual Revolution," in Sex Scene. Media and the Sexual Revolution, ed. Eric Schaefer, Duke University Press, 2014, ISBN 9780822356424, pp. 319-347, at p. 319.
- Comenas, Gary (1969). "July 21, 1969: Andy Warhol's Blue Movie Opens". WarholStars.org. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- Haggerty, George E. (2015). A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 339. ISBN 9781119000853. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- Lundin, Leigh (2010-07-25). "Erotic Mystery Thrillers". Sex-n-violence. Criminal Brief.
- Ebert, Roger (March 24, 2010). "Chloe". Rogerebert.com.
- Ray, Arnab (February 25, 2013). "On Kissing, Bollywood and Rebellion". The New York Times.
- Singh, Prashant (August 25, 2014). "What’s the big deal about a kiss, asks Bollywood". Hindustan Times.
- Dias, Muditha (May 15, 2013). "Bollywood's culture of rape". ABC
- "Indians mature enough to handle sex in films: Konkona Sen". The Indian Express. December 3, 2010.
- Siegel, Tatiana (2006-04-03). "Erotic thrillers lose steam on big screen". The Hollywood Reporter. Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2010-07-22.
- Soto-Sanfiel, María T.; Ibiti, Adriana (2016-03-10). "Lesbian Sex in Mainstream Cinema and Audience Enjoyment". Sexuality & Culture. 20 (3): 555–578. doi:10.1007/s12119-016-9342-5. ISSN 1095-5143.
- "'Carol': Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
- "Making of 'Carol': Why It Took 60 Years to Film the Lesbian Love Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
- Lane, Anthony (2017-11-24). ""Call Me by Your Name": An Erotic Triumph". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
- Andrews, David (2006) Soft in the Middle: the contemporary softcore feature in its contexts. Ohio State University Press, ISBN 9780814210222
- Brusendorff, Ove & Henningsen, Poul (1960) Erotica for the Millions. Los Angeles: the Book Mart
- Durgnat, Raymond (1966) Eros in the Cinema. London: Calder & Boyars
- Jahraus, Oliver & Neuhaus, Stefan (2003) Der erotische Film: Zur medialen Codierung von Ästhetik, Sexualität und Gewalt. Königshausen & Neumann, ISBN 3826025822
- Keesey, Douglas; Duncan, Paul (ed.) (2005) Erotic Cinema. Cologne: Taschen ISBN 3-8228-2546-8
- Kyrou, Ado (1957) Amour-Érotisme au Cinéma. Le Terrain Vague
- --do.-- (1963) Le Surréalisme au Cinéma. Le Terrain Vague
- Lo Duca (1958, 1960, 1962) L'Érotisme au Cinéma. 3 vols. Paris: Pauvert
- McDonagh, Maitland (1996) The Fifty Most Erotic Films of All Time: from "Pandora's Box" to "Basic Instinct". New York: Carol Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-1697-6
- Tohill, Cathal & Tombs, Pete (1994) Immoral Tales: sex and horror cinema in Europe, 1956-1984. London: Primitive Press ISBN 0-9524141-0-4
- Tyler, Parker (1969) Sex Psyche Etcetera in the Film. Horizon Books
- --do.--(1971) --do.-- (Pelican Book A1302.) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-021302-3
- Walker, Alexander (1966) The Celluloid Sacrifice. London: Michael Joseph
- --do.--(1968) Sex in the Movies: the celluloid sacrifice. (Pelican Book A989.) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books
- Williams, Linda (2005) The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema. Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 9780748611485
- Sex in Cinema: The Greatest and Most Influential Erotic or Sexual Films and Scenes
- "Sexuality in the Mass Media: How to View the Media Critically". SexInfo. 2003-04-06. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25.
- Lundin, Leigh (2010-07-25). "Erotic Mystery Thrillers". Sex-n-violence. Criminal Brief.
A movie plot with gaping holes isn't a mystery and not even a good movie.