Infamous Erotic Moments in German Cinema

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Note: Contains sexual references.

German cinema may unfairly be defined, outside its borders anyway, by how it interprets the various atrocities that were perpetrated during the country’s turbulent twentieth century.

This mood hangs over so much of their filmmaking, that when exploring noted erotic moments within this history, it is impossible to ignore the heavy weights that exist here. Noted examples of sexual scenes in German film can be found in examples that engage with this past and also ones that have very little to do with it, as you shall see. From giants of Silent Film to ultra-modern depictions of young womanhood, they are all here for your pleasure.

Top: Ben Whishaw entertains his many fans in “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”
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“The Tin Drum” was a controversial release because of its child-related sex scenes.

The Tin Drum

An adaptation of Gunter Grass’ prize-winning novel of the same name, “The Tin Drum” centres on a young boy who refuses to grow up in 20th century Poland. On his third birthday, he receives a drum which he uses to cause disruption and havoc. What caused outrage upon release was a sex scene between the young Oskar and an older women, involving oral sex. The result was that many festivals refused to show it on grounds of child pornography.

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Tom Tykwer offers us a visually stunning window into the mid of a serial killer.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

From Patrick Suskind’s “unfilmable” novel of the same name, German director Tom Tykwer created a feast for the senses in this lavish period drama. The final set piece is a work of staggering sexual power as our anti-hero Jean-Baptiste Grenoiulle (Ben Whishaw) releases with one flutter of his hand the essence of pure scent from a piece of cloth. The hundreds of revelers soon indulge in a mass orgy scene that is an unforgettable erotic scene.

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The luminous Nina Hoss fights the system in “Barbara.”

Barbara

An acclaimed German film that takes place during the East-West German divide, Christian Petzold’s drama focuses on a doctor (Nina Hoss) who is sent to a remote hospital as punishment for trying to defect into the West. A disturbingly erotic moment occurs when the Stasi force upon her a full body search. The fact that most of it takes place off screen doesn’t make it any less frightening.

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Fleeing from Turkey to Germany, Ayten is assisted by Lottle in the acclaimed “The Edge of Heaven.”

The Edge of Heaven

Directed by acclaimed Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin,”The Edge of Heaven” is a grand European odyssey that flicks back and forth between Bremen and Istanbul. Young Ayten is a member of a Turkish communist group, forcing her to flee to Germany where she takes up with Lotte, a college professor. The love scenes between the two are strikingly shot, brutal in their honesty and passion, unfolding within a natural narrative.

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The shocking graphic content got “Wetlands” noticed at Sundance.

Wetlands

“Wetlands” made quite a splash when it premiered at Sundance. One critic labelled it “an extravaganza of delightful perversity.” It is a film full of disgusting moments, littered throughout with a near constant parade of strange erotism, in its story of a rebellious teen who ends up in hospital after a self-harm incident. One such moment involves a plant growing out of her reproductive organs in her hospital bed. Shocking stuff.

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Louise Brooks flirts her way to the top in the silent classic, “Pandora’s Box.”

Pandora’s Box

Released in the golden age of Silent Film, Germany’s “Pandora Box” from 1929 starred famous heroine Louise Brooks as Lulu, a woman who possesses such beauty and sexual prowess that she can seduce any man who falls within her eye line. The whole film is one long staged sexual scene after the other. Certainly shocking for its time. The costumes and makeup of Brooks adds in large part to this overtly sexual mood; thick black lipstick and that iconic short bob.

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A writer and his wife become the target for surveillance in “The Lives of Others.”

The Lives of Other

“The Lives of Others” is a gripping drama that takes place in the closed-off world of East Germany before the re-unification of the country. It is a place completely controlled and monitored by the State, as a writer becomes the target of a government’s spymaster. In a scene of disturbing sexual content, the couple are having sex unaware of the fact that captain Gerd Wiesler is listening to everything in their bugged apartment.

Images © respective film studios.
Christopher Smail

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Christopher is based in the UK, the former assistant editor of Scene360 magazine. Follow the author @ and view more articles.

March 26, 2015 Cinema Special Feature