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Seven sex scenes in movies that might be real sex

Real or faked? To celebrate Gaspar Noé’s ‘Love’, we ask whether cinema’s hottest moments are hot for a very good reason

Longtime French provocateur Gaspar Noé (‘Enter the Void’, ‘Irreversible’) returns to cinemas soon with ‘Love’, a sexually explicit romance shot in 3D – one, it should be said, that makes full use of the technology. (Use your imagination, or better yet, go see it.) While Noé and his stars have owned up to most of the sex being real, the film makes us wonder which famous movie sex scenes from the past have been as authentic as documentaries and which have simply created the illusion of that. Our research was not unpleasurable.

Movie sex scenes: real or fake?

1

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Gorgeous and tragic, Bernardo Bertolucci’s international romance deserves more than its naughty reputation, mainly due to one scene involving Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and a stick of butter (easing things up only marginally).

Real or fake?
The film isn’t as explicit as some others on the list, and according to all involved, the anal sex is simulated. But that doesn’t mean feelings weren’t hurt: Schneider felt ‘raped’, Brando felt ‘violated’ and both disengaged from their director for years.

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2

Don't Look Now (1973)

Nicolas Roeg’s bizarre psycho-thriller takes a break from its mysterious Venice chase scenes to showcase a tender and unusually hot sex scene between grieving parents Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.

Real or fake?
It’s been rumoured that Warren Beatty, after seeing then-girlfriend Christie getting cunnilingus from her co-star, demanded that the scene be cut. But he didn’t win that fight, and Sutherland still insists that everything was entirely faked. He would know.

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3

Caligula (1979)

Italian director Tinto Brass mounted this epic fail of a Roman historical drama starring Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren. None of the actors had necrophilia or incest, but after reading the reviews, they certainly hid under the sheets for a while.

Real or fake?
The above is only half the story: When your producer is Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, you should expect to be messed with. Brass’s cut was taken away from him, and unsimulated sexual footage using porn stars was inserted.

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4

Romance (1999)

Starring Caroline Ducey and real-life porn star Rocco Siffredi, Catherine Breillat’s art-house stunner about a frustrated French libertine opened the floodgates for explicit content within serious works of cinema. Still, not a great first-date film.

Real or fake?
It's 100 percent real – everything from fellatio and masturbation to full-on penetration. Breillat has since gone on to further explore sex in a sensitive way (including teenage sex in 2001’s ‘A Ma Soeur’), but never quite this explicitly.

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5

The Brown Bunny (2003)

After director-star Vincent Gallo mopes his way across the country on a motorcycle, his obsession with ex-girlfriend Chloë Sevigny climaxes with a ghostly reunion – and an explicit blow job in a motel room. Naturally, the movie debuted at Cannes.

Real or fake?
After heated public speculation that a prosthetic might have been used, Gallo claimed otherwise and Sevigny, no prude when it comes to taking risks for her art, has stood by her man. Pretty conclusively, this low-budget film is supplying real sex.

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6

9 Songs (2004)

Still considered the most sexually explicit mainstream movie ever to hit the UK, Michael Winterbottom’s romance interlaces live musical performances (by bands like Primal Scream and the Von Bondies) with the bedroom romps of an adventurous couple that clearly loves going to concerts.

Real or fake?
Some of this material – like ejaculation – is impossible to fake, nor was there any need to: the actors and director were all in sync about striving to create unsimulated intimacy. No word on if the performers actually dig pretentious alt-rockers Elbow.

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7

Antichrist (2009)

In an aria-scored black-and-white prologue, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg have slo-mo sex in the shower, while their adorable toddler wanders dangerously close to an open window.

Real or fake?
You expect explicitness from director Lars Von Trier. But while some of his other films feature actors actually going all the way, these A-list stars were able to use body doubles (pornographic professionals) for the hard-core penetration.

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Read our review of ‘Love’

Love

It promises all sorts of muck, and muck it delivers. ‘Love’ is a 3D sex film from Gaspar Noé, the French provocateur behind ‘Irreversible’ (violence, rape) and ‘Enter the Void’ (drugs, prostitution). It’s filthy and has many of the foibles of porn – bad dialogue, can-I-borrow-some-sugar plotting – but Noé holds back from showing hardcore penetration, although it’s hard to imagine his cast aren’t actually having full-on sex here. 

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