The Thinking Machine #77

Sectioning Sex

In their series The Thinking Machine, critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin create a new video essay for Filmkrant every month.

Filmmakers have long grappled with the dilemma of how to depict sex on screen. Should it be shown realistically? Pornographically? Sensually? Should awkward details be included, or excluded? Should the sex scene follow the path of internal, erotic fantasy, or external, physical choreography?

One trend which began in the permissive 1960s, thanks to directors including Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard, was the stylised, abstracted, fragmented sex scene – and it lasted to the 1980s (Paul Schrader) and beyond. How does this convention look today?