Controversy ain’t what it used to be. For all the buzz surrounding the alleged sexual explicitness of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the fact that hard-core sexual imagery has never been more instantly accessible than it is now tends to dampen the sizzle somewhat.
Why would anyone go to a two-part, separately ticketed, Danish-made movie to see something you can see anywhere, any time, any way? Because you want to see the movie, apparently. But if sex has sold the movies since the first flickers, what happens when the pitch loses potency? We shall see.
In the meantime, here’s a highly selective account of some of movie history’s most seductive outrages, noteworthy for the barriers they breached.