Sex in film
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Sex in film is the motion picture presentation of sexuality and love scenes, while an erotic film is one that has an erotic quality intended to create sexual feelings. Nudity in film may be sexual or non-sexual. Love scenes, erotic or not, have been presented in films since the silent era of cinematography. Love scenes have been presented in many genres of film; while in other genres, sexuality is rarely depicted. Many actors and actresses have performed nude/partial nude scenes, as well as dress and behave in ways considered sexually provocative by contemporary standards at some point in their careers.
Some films containing love scenes have been criticized by religious groups or banned by governments, or both. In countries with a film rating system, films containing love scenes typically receive a restricted classification.
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.
Attitudes by region
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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 strong sex scenes in some of his films, such as Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Manderlay (2005), Antichrist (2009), and Nymphomaniac (2014). 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 sex scenes.
Blue Movie, directed by Andy Warhol, and released in 1969, 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, an internationally controversial erotic drama film, starring Marlon Brando, and released in 1972, a few years after Blue Movie was made.
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), 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.
A popular American erotic film subgenre is erotic thriller, 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 and 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 around sex, typically portraying men as unstoppable sex-seeking creatures and women as willing targets. Although the numbers 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, 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.
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Many drama series, and daytime soap operas are based around sex. Partial nudity once acceptable on daytime television in the 1970s disappeared after 2000, partially due to more conservative morals, but 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). It consisted of ten short films shot by female directors with the goal of producing erotica from a female point of view.
- Erotic thriller
- Golden Age of Porn
- Nudity in film
- Pre-Code sex films
- Sex symbol
- Unsimulated sex
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A movie plot with gaping holes isn't a mystery and not even a good movie.
- Erotic movies by genres