The old adage is that sex sells. This is part of why sex is so popular at the movies. However, a new video focuses less on what we see on screen, and more on how filmmakers create those scenes in the first place. Try not to get too excited, this is art people.
The video is part of Frame by Frame, a regular feature on the Film Theorists YouTube channel. This time, rather than focusing on how fight scenes are filmed, or how edits can be hidden, the video is dedicated to a topic that surely we're all going to enjoy learning about, sex. I honestly had no idea that watching sex scenes in movies had a name, scopophilia, and now that I know that, I'm not sure how I feel about it, Does that make the whole thing less weird, or more so? Either way, we've all been watching sex on screen since 1933 apparently, so while sex on screen may continue to be a controversial topic, it's also one that we've been dealing with for nearly 100 years.
What's probably the most interesting thing, is how much about filming sex scenes hasn't changed in all that time. While the video points out that the use of extreme closeups in Ecstacy was done out of necessity to avoid running afoul of the censors, much of film sex is still filmed in this way. In many cases it could still be done out of necessity, as today it could mean the difference between a PG-13 and an R-rating from the MPAA, but often it's done in movies that don't have a problem showing nudity.
Part of what makes sex such a controversial topic is that it's an extreme experience. Not that unlike showing a violent death in a horror movie. Extremes tend to make people uncomfortable and that's where the controversy comes in. However, the use of the close-up helps to emphasize the emotion behind the experience in a way that showing lots of nudity simply doesn't. As the video points out, cleavage can only emote so much. It's the face that really shows you how somebody is feeling.
While the cinematography involved may not be the next thing you think about the next time people start taking their clothes off on-screen, perhaps now it's something that you will think about at some point.
Do you have a favorite movie sex scene from a cinematography standpoint? If you do, let us know in the comments below.
Sex doesn't always sell. Sometimes, Hollywood tries to use it to promote movies, and they end up producing posters that are so controversial, they get banned.
_Starting on the next page, we have The 10 Greatest Banned Movie Posters Of All Time. Just makes sure you do NOT open this link at work, because they can be provocative! _