It is the nature of our society that films with strong sexual content provoke controversy. These nine movies tested the limits of what mainstream critics and audiences deem acceptable.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
A middle-aged American widower (Marlon Brando) and a young Parisian (Maria Schneider) who meet for sex never learn each other’s names. The film’s graphic portrayal of sexual violence earned it an X-rating in the United States. Director Bernardo Bertolucci said he developed it from his own sexual fantasies. Schneider, who was 19 at the time of filming, claimed that the experience ruined her life, and that she thought of Bertolucci as a gangster and pimp. In recent years, huge controversy has arisen about Brando and Bertolucci’s behavior during one of the film’s most graphic sex scenes.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
You might also like: The Most Controversial Films Banned In France
Adrian Lyne’s version of Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel (previously taken to screen by Stanley Kubrick in 1962) required 15-year-old lead actress Dominique Swain to simulate sex with Jeremy Irons, whose Humbert Humbert marries his landlady so he can seduce her 14-year-old daughter. Swain’s age meant that explicit sexual scenes were shot with the help of a discreetly placed pillow or an adult body double. The film had trouble finding an American distributor. Critics held the film back in Australia because they feared it would promote paedophilia, but it was eventually released.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
In Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Tom Cruise plays Dr. Bill Hartford, a doctor who becomes obsessed with having an affair after his wife (Nicole Kidman) admits that she once considered cheating on him. Hartford ends up participating in a secret society’s masked orgy. The film’s explicitness set off alarm bells. Obliged to deliver an R-rated film, Warner Bros. cut some scenes and digitally altered the orgy sequence by adding figures to block activities and body parts that would have incurred the censors’ wrath.
You might also like: 15 Films Banned Around the World for Unbelievable Reasons
Fat Girl (2001)
Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl starts at a French seaside resort where the conventionally attractive Elena (Roxane Mesquida) and her overweight younger sister Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) are vacationing. Anaïs wants to lose her virginity to a stranger, but Elena is saving herself for someone she loves. Elena soon becomes sexually involved with a young man she meets on the beach, sparking an unpredictable series of events and a brutal murder. The film was banned in Ontario, Canada for its portrayal of teenage sexuality and was variously described by critics as ‘harrowing’ and ‘brutal’.
A Serbian Film (2010)
Aging porn star Milos wants to quit the industry but agrees to take part in one last film that will provide him with enough money to support his struggling family for life. He finds he’s been enlisted to partake in a snuff film involving paedophilia and necrophilia. Banned in many countries, A Serbian Film was supposedly intended as an allegory of corruption in the Serbian government.
In Steve McQueen’s New York-based drama, Michael Fassbender plays a sex addict who cannot sustain romantic intimacy with any of his partners. When his emotionally damaged sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, she reawakens his memories of their painful shared past. Shame’s explicitness caused one female audience member to faint at its Toronto Film Festival premiere and the subsequent notoriety affected its box-office performance.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
This coming-of-age drama depicts the tempestuous romance of teenage protagonist Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and older, blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux). The stars’ explicit sex scenes and director Abdellatif Kechiche’s treatment of them on the set, as well as his reported harassment of other crew members, set off a small firestorm. The depiction of lesbian sexuality was additionally criticized by academics as the product of a prurient straight male filmmaker’s fantasies.
Lars von Trier’s two-part drama is the story of self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe (played by Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg). Tended by a stranger (Stellan Skarsgård) who found her lying beaten on a street, she recounts to him the saga of the multi-faceted and increasingly perverse erotic adventures. The light tone of the first film gives way to a dark and oppressive mood in the second. Nymphomaniac as a whole caused less of an uproar, however, than Von Trier’s previous Gainsbourg film, Antichrist (2009), with its graphic images of female self-mutilation.
Gaspar Noé’s ultra-explicit 3D extravaganza Love shows how sexual behavior can dominate human connections and is also prone to being corrupted by lies and hypocrisy. Some sex scenes were simulated, others weren’t – including a shot of semen spurting on the camera. A campaign led by a French right-wing group bumped the rating from 16 to 18 after it was released; an anti-gay Russian legislator compared the film to Mein Kampf. Noé was startled by the reaction given the less torrid response to the excessive violence in some of his previous works.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.