9 Songs film poster
|Directed by||Michael Winterbottom|
|Produced by||Andrew Eaton|
|Written by||Michael Winterbottom|
|Editing by||Mat Whitecross|
|Distributed by||Optimum Releasing (UK)|
|Running time||69 minutes|
9 Songs is a 2004 British art film directed by Michael Winterbottom. The title refers to the nine songs played by eight different rock bands that complement the story of the film. The film was controversial on its original release because of its sexual content, which included unsimulated footage of the two leads having sexual intercourse and performing oral sex as well as a scene of ejaculation. The film was showcased at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film tells the modern love story set over a period of 12 months in London, England, of a young couple: Matt, a British climatologist, and Lisa, an American exchange student. The story is framed in a personal review from Matt's perspective when he is working in Antarctica. Their main common interest is a passion for live music and they frequently attend rock concerts together. The film depicts the couple, or Matt alone, watching nine songs at Brixton Academy and other concert venues. It also shows their weekend getaway into the countryside, and their travels around London. Lisa brings their short and intense relationship to an end at Christmas time when she returns to the United States.
The nine songs
- "Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll", Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
- "C'mon, C'mon", The Von Bondies
- "Fallen Angel", Elbow
- "Movin' On Up", Primal Scream
- "You Were the Last High", The Dandy Warhols
- "Slow Life", Super Furry Animals
- "Jacqueline", Franz Ferdinand
- "Debbie", Michael Nyman
- "Love Burns", Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
According to The Guardian, 9 Songs is the most sexually explicit mainstream film to date, largely because it includes several scenes of real sex between the two lead actors. The film is unusual in that it features its lead actors, Margo Stilley and Kieran O'Brien, having unsimulated and very graphic sex, including genital fondling, masturbation with and without a vibrator (including even a footjob in a bathtub scene), penetrative vaginal sex, cunnilingus and fellatio. During a scene in which Stilley masturbates O'Brien's penis after performing fellatio on him, O'Brien became the only actor who has been shown ejaculating in a mainstream, UK-produced feature. In the interest of sexual health and to avoid any possible pregnancy, O'Brien wore a condom on his erect penis during the vaginal sex but not while receiving oral sex. Margo Stilley asked Winterbottom to refer to her simply by her character's name in interviews about the film.
The release sparked a debate over whether the scenes of unsimulated sex artistically contributed to the film's meaning or crossed the border into pornography. In the UK the film received an 18 certificate from the British Board of Film Classification and became the most explicit mainstream film to be so rated in the country.
In Australia, the Office of Film and Literature Classification gave the film an X rating, which would have prevented the film from being shown theatrically and restricted sale of the film to the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The OFLC Review Board later passed the film with an R rating, although the South Australian Classification Council raised the rating back to X in South Australia.
In New Zealand, while the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards lobbied for the film to be kept out of cinemas, it was passed uncut at R18 by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The film was broadcast on New Zealand pay TV Rialto Channel in July 2007.
In June 2008 the film was broadcast on Dutch national television by the public broadcasting station VPRO.
- 9 songs at the Internet Movie Database
- Official film webpage, UK version
- 9 Songs at Allmovie
- 9 Songs at Yahoo! Movies
- 9 Songs at NY Times