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10 Erotic Films That Go Beyond The Limits Of Your Imagination

Many film directors have explored human sexuality through their movies. These are the ones you cannot miss if you really call yourself a movie connoisseur.

Sex and cinema have always shared a close relationship. The first erotic film dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, just a few years after the Lumière Brother invented the cinematograph. This sexy piece shown above was named  La Coucher de la Mariée (often translated as “Bedtime for the Bride” or “The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma”), and it was directed by Albert Kirchner –under the pseudonym of Léar– and produced by Eugene Pirou, who was called a “pornographer” at the time. It stars legendary cabaret performer Louise Willy, who interprets a young woman undressing behind a screen while a man at the other end tries to catch a glimpse of her naked body.

Things have changed a lot since then, and this visual medium has proven that there are many ways for erotic films to thrive. However, together with the creation of erotic films, there has been a ludicrous amount of pornography, where eroticism has been mislabelled and transformed into pure sex. Fortunately, many sensitive filmmakers have explored the subtlety and mysteries of erotic arousal through dazzling plots, sensuous lighting, and edgy acting. European cinema has been the best in bringing the intricacies of eroticism through sexually charged scenes with the power to remind you of the most sensual of experiences. The American classics are not far behind, as they have equally titillating scenes waiting to be uncovered.

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Bitter Moon (1992) - Roman Polanski

Nigel (Hugh Grant) and Fiona (Kirstin Scott Thomas) are a married British couple who live trapped by their routine. Wanting to renew the zest in their relationship, they travel to India and make a pitstop in Istanbul, where they meet a strange couple, Mimi and Oscar. Nigel becomes obsessed with Mimi, and Oscar shares stories of his sexual experiences with his beautiful wife, from which Nigel can’t turn his ear away. This film is for those trying to understand the contradictions between love and sex, or is just for anyone in need of a break in routine.

Untamed Youth (1961) - Howard W. Koch

Penny (Mamie van Doren) and Jane Lowe (Lori Nelson), two German sisters backpacking across America, get arrested for hitchhiking and skinny-dipping and are sentenced unfairly to work at a farm in rural Texas by a widowed judge who has married the owner of those lands. As a last resource for escape, Jane starts a sexual game with the judge’s son until things get way out of hand. A film for those who get a thrill from danger.

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Young and Beautiful (2013) - François Ozon

The beautiful teenager Isabelle (Marine Vacth) has her first sexual encounter at the age of seventeen during a summer camp with a German boy named Felix. Afterwards, her libido is awakened, to the point where she ends up leading a double life where she is a student by day and a prostitute by night. Ozon’s movie captures the teenage obsession with sexuality through Isabelle’s frenzy, but it also leaves room for a lot of reflection upon the secret allure and obsession society has with youth.

Les Amants (1958) - Louis Malle

Malle’s film captures the story of the crumbling marriage between Jeanne (Jeanne Moreau) and Henri Tourneau (Alain Cuny), who don’t really spend time together due to the husband’s busy schedule. Jeanne quickly becomes bored with the turn of affairs, and after meeting a dark and handsome stranger who helps her fix her car, she decides to have sex with him. A luscious film about rediscovering one’s own sexuality.

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Q Desire (2011) - Laurent Bouhnik

Cecile (Deborah Revy) is a young woman who tries to get rid of the sorrow caused by her father’s death through sex and love. Cecile’s presence suddenly stirs the lives of everyone she meets, blurring the thin line that divides love and sex.

Lady of the Camellias (1981) - Mauro Bolognini

Bolognini’s film, based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel of the same title, tells the story of Alphonsine Plessis (played by dazzling Isabelle Huppert), who moves to Paris to become part of the bourgeoisie. She uses her beauty as the means to fulfill her mission, eventually allowing herself to succumb to the pleasures of the flesh.

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Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1971) - Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pasolini’s film is where eroticism and sadism intersect.  The film revolves around a group of Italian fascists who selects a group of beautiful and sexually vigorous youths to train them to eventually please the leaders of this society. Perverse sexuality is the main focus of this film, where wickedness somehow equates itself with the pleasure of a select few. 

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Sex and Lucía (2001) - Julio Medem 

Lucía moves to an isolated Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea after losing her job and breaking up with her boyfriend. After realizing that her relationship was doomed from the start, Lucía enters a sexual frenzy to alleviate the pain of realizing her life doesn’t meet her personal expectations. The film was so scandalous that it was censored before its release in 2001.

Betty Blue (1986)Jean - Jacques Beinex

Beinex’s film tells the story of an aspiring novelist, Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) who supports his young girlfriend Betty (Béatrice Dalle) as she is slowly being consumed by a mental disorder. Lit by eroticism, this film becomes a great reflection of the powers of the mind and the most beastly side of our nature.

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Based on a true story, the film recounts how the Salon Kitty brothel, run by Kitty Schmidt, became the perfect place to spy on the Nazi party, where all the prostitutes were replaced by secret agents. Due to its political overtones, the movie was cut as a sexploitation film in America. The two versions have the perfect mixture of erotic pleasure and the thrill that comes with watching any spy film.

Salon Kitty (1976) - Tinto Brass

The art of cinema has portrayed sex in myriad ways, and eroticism is a central part of this human art form. How many films have you watched that went beyond the limits of your imagination? 

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Adapted by Josue Brocca

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