Filming the Sex Scenes: A Unique Opportunity

We’ve already spoken of the controversy surrounding the story Fifty Shades of Grey. No? Let’s recap Fifty Shades of Neutral: Addressing the Controversy. Another concern we’ve seen frequently is that the explicit content of the books will not translate to film without earning it an NC-17 rating or being classified as pornography.

One of our blog contributors, Kassie, wanted to suggest her version of how the movie can achieve an R rating.

(Note to Universal, Focus Features, and author E L James: These ideas are given freely with no expectations of credit and/or compensation if used.)

With an R rating (my hope for it), the movie can give us many different visuals of sexual situations; however, the sexual encounters in Fifty Shades of Grey will need to achieve a deeper intensity because the audience will need to walk away with a perceived mix of both pleasure and pain.

So is there a way around this to make those scenes less graphic but just as effective to the audience?

I think so!

In fact, I think Fifty Shades of Grey has a rather unique opportunity to do this based on a wonderful part of Ana’s character that Ms. James built into the story. Often in the book, the reader understands how Ana is feeling based on the description of varied actions/reactions of her Subconscious and Inner Goddess. As personifications, the two are very important ‘characters’ in the story and should be utilized (not overlooked or left out), particularly during the explicit scenes.

Here is how I think this could work:

Take the first time Christian disciplines Anastasia. We have Ana’s thoughts to work with there. We can watch them get set in the position and the camera can focus on Ana’s face, putting Christian in the background out of focus. When he pulls his hand back to spank her, we are then transported to Ana’s mind. Her Inner Goddess, taking on the form of a feisty and gorgeous Anastasia, is wide-eyed but curious. Her Subconscious, taking on the form of a more straight-laced Anastasia, is hiding behind a sofa avoiding watching the scene unfold. The reader watches the scene play out across ‘their’ faces but can still hear Ana’s vocalizations and Christian’s voice coming through, thus giving the audience the full effect of the scene.

Now imagine every explicit sex scene taking on some variation of the above by continuing to incorporate the actions/reactions of both the Subconscious and Inner Goddess. They could switch back and forth between what’s actually happening and what Ana’s thinking. This would still leave the more intimate sexual encounters intact.

The audience would get a balanced view without crossing the line that would enforce an NC-17 rating. No doubt, the right director and screenwriter could make it work; and if they are careful, the most intense scenes can be made in a way that will be quite effective to the audience, even if we aren’t shown everything.

Admin notes:

If Blue Valentine can be slapped with an NC-17 rating for oral sex, there are obvious lines the FSoG movie will have to skirt along creatively in order to avoid it. That is not to say that we believe having an NC-17 rating attached to this movie would make it less wildly popular. Let’s face it. We all fell in love with Fifty right along with Ana. The ‘scenes’ that could make it necessary for this rating are part of the story, part of what makes Fifty ‘Fifty.’ They also inform the relationship between Christian and Ana. We are confident that Ms. James will protect the integrity of her story regardless of the ultimate rating.

For a list of the most popular NC-17 rated films click here. For a look at what each rating means, check out The Motion Picture Association of America’s descriptions here.

Do you think they can make this film with an R rating? Would you still go to the theater and see it with an NC-17 rating?