Brief history of porn cinema - #1

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When someone talks about sex with artistic tenor, the question concerning pornography and eroticism comes up to the mind of any person interested on this kind of debate. What would be eroticism? What would be pornography? Uncountable answers always come up, and the most common of them is the direct reference to the explicit in order to label pornography. The etymology of those words also helps to create a little distinction. Eroticism comes from Eros and literally means "loving desire"; and pornography comes from the prostitutes, as its origin is the Greek term pornographie, which means "treatise about prostitutes".

However, this etymologic dissociation seems to be some kind of acceptance of the social sexual exploitation than admitting the existence of beauty and art in an explicit manner. The plastic artist Paulo Rafael provides an interesting definition about the theme on a text made to comment about the work of another plastic artist -- Gil Vicente: "the common sense indicates differences between eroticism and pornography. Nevertheless, when you try to catalogue those differences, a subjective field is opened, as these frontiers depend on the spectator or on the cultural context, and not on the inward characteristics of the (erotic or pornographic) object. After all, it was already said that pornography is the eroticism of the others. Erotic and pornographic can't be distinguished only based on concepts of explicit and implicit. Thus, on a general way, I try to avoid the term eroticism, using only the term pornography, amplifying its meaning. Pornography as a representation of the sexual desire, a sexo-graphy or a desire-graphy, at the same line of thought which conduce words like geography, lithography and xylography".

Gradually, the pornographic gained more space. In Europe, the movies reached the explicit faster than the North-American ones. There are registers of explicit tapes from 1910. However, commercially, the first explicit movies of the pornographic cinema were produced in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1904, and exported throughout the world from there, including to United States. But precise the exact date of the first pornographically explicit movie is almost impossible, mainly because there weren't a preoccupation on registering this kind of datum by the time. Free Ride(1915) and On the beach (1916) can be considered as the first official movies of the porn cinema, even if they weren't commercially released on the movie theaters. They were specially exhibited at brothels. Full of humor and explicit scenes, both movies were produced by people of the cinematographic circuit, applying all the top techniques available by that time.

During the following decades, the pornographic cinema lied on marginality, without making part of the big commercial circuit. Incredibly, it was also a period of fertile creativity of the authors, who had a whole open field to explore explicit scenes combined with soft scenes in order top create strong aesthetical works.


It was at the end of the 1960s that the pornographic cinema reached the movie theaters. The common sense asseverates that the first released movie was Mona, The Virgin Nymph (1970), followed by Flesh Gordon. But, some time before it, European moviemakers, specially the Italian ones, like Tinto Brass and even the genius Pier Paolo Pasolini, had already invested on the explicit as an integrating part of the narrative.

The arrival of the pornographic movies to the movie theaters created new waves at the industry and a new way to face the process of producing them. If there wasn't any kind of preoccupation with any kind of plot, the new produced movies needed the absurd to create a narrative line. That was the time when also appeared the famous "cumshots" to finalize the scene -- a pattern which remains one of the precepts of this style.

Author of the Article: Danilo Corci, Speculum.

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