With everything being about sex for the last thirty to forty years, it seems that unsimulated sex in films is unlikely to surprise anyone. The only question that remains what the point of showing two or more actors engaging into real unchoreographed sex. It is hard to pick one answer. Some directors or producers add real sex in movies to make the scenes more realistic. While in other cases it feels just like the marketing tool. Like the movie has no plot and the acting is obnoxious and the creators know that, so it seems like unsimulated sex scene would be the only way to attract the prospective viewers. But, before making this claim, we should have a look at the history of sex scenes in cinema. And we are not going to talk about pornography, but, mainly, about mainstream films with real sex.

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A Brief History of Sex on the Screen

While the screen was more or less liberated in Europe, films were facing severe censorship in the North America. Believe it or not, but sex scenes were banned by law till the late 1960s. Thus, not only porn, but any movie depicting a more or less explicit sex scene were bound to private distribution. Believe it or not, but even the anti-LSD movie "Alice in the Acidland" (1969), aiming to portray the horrors of consuming the drug, including promiscuity, couldn't show sexual activity properly. Alice having sex with a junkie was portrayed by the Ukrainian girl in her underwear simulating what looks like an epileptic seizure under the guy who simply lies on her with his pants on.

Andy Warhol Changes the Game

The first film to breach the ban of the explicit sex scene was Andy Warhol's "Blue Movie" (1969). It is the first American movie to have a wide release, despite containing explicit sexual scenes. Aside from that, the movie was not considered pornographic and was taken seriously by many critics, including Roger Ebert. "Blue Movie" is often claimed to begin the Golden Age of Porn. The 1970s saw the theatrical releases of adult movies like "Deep Throat" (1972) and "Behind the Green Door" (1972).

The theatrical releases of adult films continued for 15 years, until the rise of the videocassette recorders. From the mid-1980s and onward adult films were released on video cassettes, thus ending the Golden Age of Porn. Still, "Deep Throat" (1972) was a porn movie and "Blue Movie" (1969), despite its explicit material, contained choreographed sex scene. And we were going to talk about mainstream movies with unsimulated sex.

Danish Export

Unsimulated sex made it way to mainstream movies thanks to Danish films, which were heavily exported to the United States in the early 1970s. What was the difference between the movies like "Behind the Green Door" (1972) and those Danish films? While the movies of the Golden Age of Porn had a plot, it was merely a tool to move from sexually explicit scene to another. Thus the sex was the main thing about those movies. While in Danish movies with real sex, the intercourse was the tool for the plot or to make certain scenes more realistic. Another difference is the cast and crew. While the cast and crew of the Golden Age of Porn's movies consisted mainly of people from the pornographic industry, the cast and crew of Danish movies belonged to the mainstream cinema. Yet, another difference is distribution. While movies of the Golden Age Porn were mainly released to special pornographic theatres, the Danish movies with unsimulated sex were released to mainstream theatres.

The popularity of Danish films with real sex scenes in the United States continued throughout the 1970s. But after the beginning of the 1980s, it was pretty much hard to find unsimulated sex in mainstream movies. Unsimulated sex became vogue in movies once again in the late 1990s, again, thanks to Denmark, or one specific Danish director – Lars von Trier, who would appear later on our list. While his movie "The Idiot" (1998) contained choreographed sex, it was an art film, and not a pornographic one. Its success provoked a string of art-house films with unsimulated sex, which continues up to nowadays.

The Top Ten Movies with Unsimulated Sex Scenes

After getting acquainted with the history of unsimulated sex in movies, it's time to reveal the top ten films that contain explicit unchoreographed sex scenes. Mind that not all of the movies on the list are masterpieces or have a high profile. After all, we are talking about mainstream movies with real sex and not masterpieces with real sex. So, let's dive into the top ten mainstream movies with real sex, without further ado.

"Gift" (1966)

Knud Leif Thomsen's "Gift" is a Danish movie and is considered to be the very first mainstream movie to contain unsimulated sex scene. The film's plot follows Per – played by Søren Strømberg – an amoral young man, who interferes the life of a family. He first seduces Susanne – played by Sisse Reingaard – and films their unsimulated sexcapades on his video camera. He then tries to seduce Susanne's mother with the home video of her daughter, but it leads him nowhere, except getting kicked out of Susanne's house. Think of it as of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" (1997), but with sex instead of murders and a happy ending.

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"Caligula" (1979)

Tinto Brass' "Caligula" is often on the lists of worst films ever made. It is also considered to be one of the most expensive porn movies in the history of cinema, which makes no surprise, as it had a budget of $17,5 million. The movie had a terrific cast, including Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, John Guilgud, and Peter O'Tool. The movie is also known for its troubled production that lasted from 1976 to 1979. The film's plot concerned the lustful life of the Emperor of the Rome Caligula – played by Malcolm McDowell. Of course, showing the lust of the Ancient Rome couldn't be good enough without inserting unsimulated sex scenes. And we are using the word “inserting” for the reason. The funniest point that Tinto Brass, often considered to be a pornographer, didn't want to have unchoreographed sex in his films. It was producers' idea to insert unsimulated intercourse, anal intercourse, felatio and ejacuation into the movie, which lead to Tinto Brass disowning the film – he is credited in the main title sequence as "Principal Photographer", rather than a director.

"Porno Holocaust" (1981)

If you are acquainted with the Italian exploitation cinema, then you know that Italians are extremely good in horror films, with the likes of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. If you are acquainted with the work of the Italian director Joe D'Amato, you know that he is a great pornographer and can be quite a good exploitation flicks' director. So, what happens when Joe D'Amato tries hand at mixing horror and porn together? While you may expect pornographic horror fest, the actual outcome is the abomination called "Porno Holocaust". The film's plot concerned scientists being raped to death by a giant zombie. Probably Ian Jane summed up the movie the best "As a pornographic film, while quite explicit, "Porno Holocaust" sucks. As a horror film, "Porno Holocaust" sucks even more".

"Pola X" (1999)

If you are a movie geek, then the term New French Extremity means something to you. If not, then you should know that the New French Extremity was a French cinema wave of films containing high levels of gore and explicit sexuality. Directed by Leos Carax "Pola X" is a romantic drama and one of the finest examples of the cinematic wave. The film gained notoriety thanks to the unsimulated sex scenes between high profile actors like Guillaume Depardieu and Yekaterina Golubeva. But, don't get too kinky, the body stand-ins were mainly used in the scene.

"Baise-Moi" (2000)

Another example of the New French Extremity, this rape and revenge crime thriller is another mainstream movie that contains unsimulated sex scenes, that include fellatio and intercourse. This movie, directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi is banned in Singapore and Malaysia. In Australia, is was initially screened with the R18+ rating, before being pulled out of the cinemas and banned outright. The movie tells the story of two sex workers who go on a killing spree against the society that marginalized them. If you wonder why it was screened in the English-speaking world with its original French title, here is the answer – baise-moi can be literally translated as "f*ck me".

"Ken Park" (2002)

You could see that coming, this list would be incomplete without Larry Clark, a director who scared the movie-goers shitless with "Kids" (1995) – a movie about HIV and the teenage promiscuity in the mid-1990s. His fifth movie "Ken Park" (2002) perfectly fits on the list, containing both simulated and unsimulated sex scenes, including male masturbation and ejaculation. By the way, Ken Park is the name of the teenager who dies in the beginning of the movie to unveil other stories, which include a teenage boy having an affair with his girlfriend's mom.

"The Brown Bunny" (2003)

This movie, written, produced, directed by and starring Vincent Gallo, tells the story of a motorcycle racer on his cross-country drive to get rid of the memories of his ex-lover that are haunting him. The movie is famous for an unsimulated fellatio performed by Chloe Sevigny on Gallo. The movie is also famous for causing the feud between Gallo and film critic Roger Ebert, with the latter calling the film one of the worst ever to be presented at Cannes. The feud was over when Roger Ebert gave "thumbs up" to the re-edited version of the film.

"Antichrist" (2009)

Definitely, the director who made explicit sex in mainstream movies popular again would appear on this list. "Antichrist" is the first movie in Lars von Trier's unofficial "Depression Trilogy". Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe star in the film as a couple who retreat to the cabin in the woods after the death of their child. Dafoe's character starts having strange visions, while Gainsbourg's character goes ultimately amok. The films contain explicit unsimulated intercourse and masturbation. Although, von Trier was using body-doubles for the sex scenes, the body-doubles had actual intercourse.

"Nymphomaniac" Vol I (2013) & II (2014)

Lars von Trier's "Depression Trilogy" started with the film containing unsimulated sex, so it's quite obvious that it would end up with the movie containing unsimulated sex scenes. "Nymphomaniac" stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe, a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac who, through a series of bizarre events in her life, comes to realize that, despite her unstoppable lust, she can't love anyone. While the idea of seeing Shia LaBeouf having sex with someone on the screen sounds quite appealing, von Trier used the same method he was using on the "Antichrist". Shooting the actual intercourse with porn actors and inserting the main stars' appearance on them via editing.

"Love" (2015)

Despite "Love" isn't the first Gaspar Noe's film to feature unsimulated and unchoreographed sex scene, it is the most prominent one. Deemed by many to be the king of real sex scenes in movies, labelled by critics as "porn in 3-D", "Love" comes mostly like an experiment rather than a straightforward movie. The film didn't have any conventional script with Noe discussing the scenes with actors through personal meetings. The movie follows the lives of an American film school student Murphy and his French ex-girlfriend Electra. This is definitely one of the warmest and tender movies of Noe, the director of the notorious "Irreversible" (2002), but remains his most underdeveloped one. It has Murphy having a threesome to John Carpenter's music, forced to marry a Danish girl after getting her pregnant and suffering from fracture. Probably "porn in 3-D" is the best description.

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