Unsimulated sex

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Unsimulated sex is the presentation in a film of sex scenes where the actors engage in an actual sex act, and are not just miming the general motions. At one time such scenes were restricted by law and self-imposed industry standards such as the Motion Picture Production Code.[1] Films showing explicit sexual activity were confined to privately distributed underground films, such as stag films[2] or "porn loops". Beginning in the late 1960s, mainstream cinemas began pushing boundaries in terms of what was presented on screen.[2] Although the vast majority of sexual situations depicted in mainstream cinema are simulated (in early pornography, the main actors engaged in simulated sex, with inserts placed in the film), on rare occasions actors engage in real sex.[3] The difference between these films and pornography is that, while such scenes might be considered erotic, the intent of these films is not solely pornographic.[4]

Notable examples include two of the eight Bedside-films and the six Zodiac-films from the 1970s, all of which were produced in Denmark and had many pornographic sex scenes, but were nevertheless considered mainstream films (they all had mainstream casts and crews, and premiered in mainstream cinemas).[5] The last of these films, Agent 69 Jensen i Skyttens tegn, was made in 1978. From the end of the 1970s until the late 1990s it was rare to see hardcore scenes in mainstream cinema, but this changed with the success of Lars von Trier's The Idiots (1998), which heralded a wave of art-house films with explicit content,[6][7][8] such as Romance (1999), Baise-moi (2000), Intimacy (2001), Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny (2003), and Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs (2004). Some simulated sex scenes are so realistic that critics mistakenly believe that they are real, such as the cunnilingus scene in the 2006 film Red Road.[9]

Films with unsimulated sexual activity

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The following mainstream films have scenes with verified real sexual activity, meaning actors or actresses are filmed engaging in actual coitus or performing related sexual acts such as fellatio and cunnilingus. This list does not include documentaries about pornography, which may contain unsimulated sexual activity. For example, Inside Deep Throat contains approximately 30 seconds of unsimulated fellatio.[10]

Un Chant d'Amour (English title: A Song of Love)1950A short film directed by Jean Genet that features brief scenes of male masturbation, homosexual groping and a plot entirely focused on voyeurism.[11]French
Gift1966One of the first Danish mainstream films with explicit and unsimulated sex scenes.[12]Danish
Dom kallar oss mods (English title: They Call Us Misfits)[13]1967Swedish documentary film, the first of a trilogy.Swedish
El Topo1970This cult film by Alejandro Jodorowsky contains the real rape scene according to his own book about the film.[14]Spanish
Stille dage i Clichy (English title: Quiet Days in Clichy)1970Film, directed by Jens Jørgen Thorsen, is based upon the long banned novel by Henry Miller and contains many explicit sex scenes. One contains penetration.[15]Danish, English
Cry Uncle!1971This film by John G. Avildsen shows many unsimulated sex scenes, including full oral penetration.[16]English
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song1971Features many scenes of sex; though it's debated that the scenes are unsimulated. After Peebles came up with the winning ad slogan "rated X by an all-white jury" the film's rating was reduced to R in 1974.[17]English
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism1971Film explores the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as well as exploring the life and work of Wilhelm Reich. Contains scenes of both various simulated sex acts and non-simulated manual stimulation of a penis.[18]Serbo-Croatian
and English
Pink Flamingos1972Oral sex.[19]English
I Jomfruens tegn1973First film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
I Tyrens tegn1974Second film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
Sweet Movie1974Another film by director Dušan Makavejev which explores relationship between politics (this time both communism and capitalism) and sexuality. Contains a scene of penis captivus.[20]English, French, Polish, Spanish, Italian
I Tvillingernes tegn1975Third film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
Der må være en sengekant1975Sixth film in the Danish Bedside-series of erotic mainstream-comedies, and one of the two to have hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
The Image1975This film by Radley Metzger, based upon the novel L'Image by Catherine Robbe-Grillet,features many unsimulated sex scenes including S&M, fellatio and lesbian cunnilingus.[21]English, French
Sømænd på sengekanten1976Eighth and final film in the Danish Bedside-series of erotic mainstream-comedies, and one of the two to have hardcore scenes, including extensive clips from the short Color Climax #1283: Mail Order Sex (1973), watched on 8mm by the ship's crew.[12]Danish
Une vraie jeune fille (English title: A Real Young Girl or A Real Young Lady)1976Features female masturbation, close-up of male and female genitalia (including a man masturbating to ejaculation) and urination scenes.[22]French
I Løvens tegn1976Fourth film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
愛のコリーダ (English title: In the Realm of the Senses)1976Based on a true story of a Japanese prostitute, features fellatio and other non-simulated sexual acts.[23][24]Japanese
Agent 69 Jensen i Skorpionens tegn1977Fifth film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
La svastica nel ventre (English title: Nazi Love Camp 27).1977This film by Mario Caiano features actual penetration.[25]Italian
L'Ange et la femme (English title: The Angel and the Woman)1977This film by Gilles Carle features at least one hardcore sex scene.[26]French, English
Agent 69 Jensen i Skyttens tegn1978Sixth and final film in the Danish Zodiac-series of mainstream-comedies with hardcore scenes.[12]Danish
Caligula1979Uncut version of this film includes several authentic sex scenes, including penetration, fellatio and ejaculation during the six minutes worth of inserts shot by the film's producer, Bob Guccione. The sex shot by Tinto Brass in the rest of the movie, although very explicit, was simulated.[27]English
Cruising1980Director William Friedkin spliced in single frames of gay anal intercourse during at least one scene. Partially obscured sex acts, including fellatio and fisting.English
Taxi zum Klo (English title: Taxi to the Toilet)1980A film directed by Frank Ripploh features hardcore gay sex scenes.[28]German, English, French
Les Fruits de la passion (English title: Fruits of Passion)1981This film by Shûji Terayama contains many explicit sex scenes, including unsimulated fellatio.[29]Cantonese, Japanese, English, French
Il Diavolo in Corpo (English title: Devil in the Flesh)1986Features a short scene of fellatio, during which the man tells the woman about Lenin's return to St. Petersburg in 1917.[30][31]Italian
Hotel St. Pauli1988This film by Svend Wam shows unsimulated oral sex.[32]Norwegian, Swedish
La Vie de Jésus (English title: The Life of Jesus)1997"In Life of Jesus, Dumont included extreme close-ups of penetration to emphasize the animal nature of the sex act".[33]French
Idioterne (English title: The Idiots)1998This film by Lars von Trier features penetration and group sex.[34]Danish
Jezus is een Palestijn (English title: Jesus is a Palestinian)1999Director Lodewijk Crijns: "From the beginning I swore that there would be a visual penetration in my film. [...] Eventually that scene made it into the film and also in a way which I think is very surprising.[35]Dutch
Romance1999Directed by Catherine Breillat, features male and female masturbation, fellatio, penetration, ejaculation, and sadomasochistic bondage.[36]French
Pola X1999"Pola X ... acquired international notoriety for unsimulated sex scenes between the characters, though body doubles were reportedly used for the more graphic shots."[37]French
Baise-moi2000Several actual sex scenes, including penetration and fellatio, involving.[38]French
Intimacy2001Features fellatio.English
Ken Park2002The film was banned in Australia, as the Office of Film and Literature Classification said it contained scenes of "child sexual abuse, actual sex by people depicted as minors and sexualised violence". Cunnilingus, auto-erotic asphyxiation, urination, and group sex acts involving characters that are supposed to be teens are shown explicitly, but the sex is simulated with the exception of one scene showing a young man masturbating. All actors were actually over 18.[39]English
Irréversible (English title: Irresistible)2002This film by Gaspar Noé shows unsimulated oral sex.[40]French
The Brown Bunny2003This film by Vincent Gallo features a scene of fellatio.[41]English
Anatomie de l'enfer (English title: Anatomy of Hell)2004By director Catherine Breillat, features "actual sex, high-level sex scenes and high-level themes" according to the Australian Classification Review Board.[42]French
9 Songs2004Several non-simulated sex scenes, including penetration, fellatio, cunnilingus and ejaculation.[38]English
The Raspberry Reich2004Includes unsimulated heterosexual and homosexual sex, Including penetrative oral and anal intercourse.[43]English
All About Anna2005Producer Innocent Pictures asserted that "[w]ithout the sex scenes, the film's drama would fall apart. This was a particular challenge to the film's cast, who had to cope with the traditional social and human traumas associated with having real sex in front of a camera. Fortunately the film's actors and actresses managed to extend their dramatic performances way beyond the norm and truly managed to push the envelope, achieving new means of dramatic expression. The sex scenes were carefully planned and rehearsed prior to shooting, allowing the actors to stay in character through every embrace and caress."[44]English
8mm 22005A film directed by J. S. Cardone, featuring various erotic scenes that include complete nudity, group sex, female masturbation, oral stimulation, authentic pornography frames, and lesbian cunnilingus.[45]English
Batalla en el Cielo (English title: Battle in Heaven)2005A Mexican-French-German film directed by Carlos Reygadas. The film features a real scene of fellatio and an uncertain scene of vaginal intercourse.[46]Spanish
Shortbus2006Several actors perform real sexual acts including explicit masturbation, coitus, and heterosexual and homosexual fellatio.[38][47]English
Destricted2006Seven short films by artists and film-makers commissioned to "explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect", it "contains strong, real sex".[48][49]English
Ex Drummer2007The real sex scenes were performed by hired porn actors.Dutch
Water in Milk Exists2008An independent film directed by Lawrence Weiner and Kiki Allgeier, in association with Swiss Institute Contemporary Art New York. The film features several actors performing real penetrative sex and other sexual practices such as female masturbation, male masturbation, mutual masturbation and homosexual fellatio.[50]English
Des Jours Plus Belles Que La Nuit2009Also known as "Skin. Like. Sun." this film by Jennifer Lyon Bell and, Murielle Scherre features sex in near real time with two actors Wim van Damme and Floor Wyns.[51]French
Antichrist2009This film by Lars von Trier features a scene of penetrative vaginal intercourse, and also includes graphically violent sexual imagery. Body doubles were used to make the film.[52]English
I Want Your Love2010A 2010 short film and a 2012 feature-length film, both directed by Travis Mathews, featuring homosexual fellatio and male-male anal sex.[53]English
Q (English title: Desire)2011A 2011 French film, directed by Laurent Bouhnik, which features several graphic unsimulated depictions of sex.[54]French
Hotel Desire2011This short film directed by Sergej Moya contains unsimulated sex scene between the actors Saralisa Volm and Clemens Schick.[55]German
Sexual Chronicles of a French Family2012Jean-Marc Barr, co-director of the film, said 'that the DVD is the “sensual” version of the film. A “sexual” version—four minutes longer, and showcasing erections and penetration—also exists.'[56][57]French
Clip2012This film by Maja Milos contains several explicit sex scenes, including fellatio. Body doubles, prosthetics, and visual effects were also used for some scenes.[58][59] The film was banned in Russia as child pornography due to the young age of some of the actors.[60]Serbian
Nymphomaniac2013To produce scenes of unsimulated sex, director Lars von Trier had the genitals of porn actors digitally composited onto the bodies of the film's cast.[61]English

Pornographic films re-edited as mainstream releases

Prior to the advent of home video, a number of hardcore pornography films were released to mainstream cinemas. In most cases, scenes of penetration were either cut out or replaced with alternate shots. One exception to this was Deep Throat, which was released uncensored.

Examples of this type of hybrid release include Alice in Wonderland (1976), shot as X-rated, but first released as an R-rated version — afterwards, the uncut version was released;[62] Café Flesh (1982) — the R-rated version of this science fiction porn film was released to mainstream cinemas;[63] Stocks and Blondes (1984), originally available as Wanda Whips Wall Street;[64] and Droid (1988), originally released as Cabaret Sin in 1987.


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  2. ^ a b Corliss, Richard (29 March 2005). "That Old Feeling: When Porno Was Chic". TIME. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Hohendal, Kristin (1 July 2001). "Film Goes All the Way (In the Name of Art)". New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Gerrard, Nicci (3 October 1999). "Coming soon to a cinema near you". The Observer (London). Retrieved 4 December 2009. "Catherine Breillat's controversial French film, Romance, has just been given an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. It will be granted the respectability of mainstream cinemas round the country. It has been passed because it is 'philosophical', not pornographic. It is about sexual relationships, not an aid to sexual gratification." 
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  8. ^ Fuller, Graham (October 2001). "Shots in the Dark - sex in current French films". Interview. Retrieved 4 December 2009. [dead link]
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  10. ^ A Film Review by James Berardinelli.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ebbe Villadsen: Danish Erotic Film Classics (2005).
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  14. ^ Jodorowsky, Alexandro (1971). El Topo: A Book of the Film (1ST ed.). Douglas Links. ISBN 9780825634017. 
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  25. ^ Nazi Love Camp 27. April 19, 2009
  26. ^ A Film Review.
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  28. ^ Peter Bradshaw. Taxi zum Klo – review. The Guardian. 21 April 2011
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  32. ^ Hotel St. Pauli.
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  34. ^ Lister, David (17 May 1998). "Actors had real sex for Cannes movie". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 November 2009. 
  35. ^ Lodewijk Crijns. Spirituele extase door middel van piercing. De Filmkrant. February 1999 (Dutch)
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  37. ^ "Guillaume Depardieu: French actor". The Times (London). 15 October 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
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  39. ^ Maddox, Gary (16 June 2003). "Filmmaker defends the 'real' Ken Park". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 January 2010. [dead link]
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  57. ^ Uncut version at Amazon.de
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  64. ^ What Blockbuster Didn't Bust Blockbuster's inconsistent ratings policy -- The video rental store cracks down on X and NC-17 rated films, but ignores racier unrated fare like Wild Orchid, Ty Burr, Entertainment Weekly, 29 March 1991.

Works cited and further reading

External links