6. Bernardo Bertolucci
There was nothing conventional or controversial in whatever Bernardo Bertolucci ever did. Had he only made ‘Last Tango in Paris’, he might have still made the list because that’s how intense and emotionally harrowing the sex scenes are in that film. I wouldn’t delve deep into the controversies that are still surrounding the film but that film alone would make Bertolucci the greatest sensual filmmaker of all time. However, some of his other works, including, ‘La Luna’ and ‘The Conformist’, feature strong erotic and sexual content that are often quite unsettling and provocative. ‘La Luna, in particular, is very disturbing in its content. The story revolves around a boy who develops a very strange relationship with his mother who initiates sexual activities with him to get him off his addiction to drugs.
5. Pedro Almodovar
Arguably one of the greatest auteurs working in cinema today, Pedro Almodovar is widely credited to have broken numerous gender and sexual stereotypes in cinema. His cinema is soaked with a certain melodrama, often blending strong elements of romance and sensuality. Gender identity, sexual freedom and feminine desires are widely explored in his films and most of them feature a lot of physically intimate scenes between his characters. Sex in his films are often emotionally charged and full of verve and energy. Most of his films, including ‘Broken Embraces’, ‘All About My Mother’, ‘Talk to Her’, ‘The Skin I Live In’ all feature strong sexual overtones and are widely acknowledged as among the major cinematic works of the past 20 years.
4. Lars Von Trier
The bad boy of contemporary cinema, Lars Von Trier is probably among the most divisive auteurs of all time. Hailed as a cinematic genius by some while relentlessly accused of being self-indulgent and pretentious, Von Trier has managed to create an artistic niche for himself. Sex has been a major theme in his recent films, ‘Antichrist’ and ‘Nymphomaniac’, both of which were highly divisive among critics and cinephiles. His exploration of sex is often very brutal and extremely dark but undeniably effective and disturbing. His work often examines sexual abuse against women, struggling to cope up with the world around them. The opening scene of ‘Antichrist’ is probably the most darkly intense and poignant portrait of sex on-screen.
3. Gaspar Noe
French auteur Gaspar Noe’s obsession with sexuality is no secret. Sex as a theme often runs through all of his films and most of his work centres around the emotional and psychological explorations of sex. Sex in his films aren’t pleasurable rather they are violent and almost painful to watch. What’s great about Noe is that while his films may be extremely provocative, visually and thematically, the emotional flow in his style makes you invest yourselves in the characters, making them such profoundly devastating and harrowing cinematic experiences. The infamous rape scene in ‘Irreversible’ is, without a doubt, the most terrifying and painfully realistic depiction of rape on-screen.
2. David Lynch
Sex is an inherent element in David Lynch’s bizarrely mystifying world of nightmarish surrealism. Sexuality in his films possesses an eerily frightening quality that is disturbing in its content and seductive in its raw emotional power. Lynch crafted a bizarrely romantic and sensual world so full of dreams, desires, fears and nightmares. Films like ‘Mulholland Drive’, ‘Lost Highway’, ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Inland Empire’ capture sexuality at its most raw and passionate. The lovemaking scenes in ‘Mulholland Drive’ and ‘Lost Highway are truly among the greatest ever captured on screen.
1. Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pier Paolo Pasolini is probably the greatest director to have explored sex in all its emotional and various psychological forms. Pasolini often took on subjects that were far too bold for audiences to stomach. He is now perhaps best known among modern movie buffs for the highly controversial provocative human horror drama, ‘Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom’ which is about a group of fascists who kidnap young men and women and subject them to brutal emotional and sexual torture. However, a lot of his other films including ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘The Canterbury Tales’ and ‘The Decameron’, which together form the Trilogy of Life’, have all featured sex and nudity in abundance. But most of his earlier works weren’t brutal in their portrayal of sex rather they were more humorous depictions of the various facets of human sexuality. While his stature as one of the true great auteurs in cinema would continue to be debated, there’s no denying that the man fearlessly took on subjects that we feared to hear and speak, making us aware of the brutalities enveloping our existence.