Despite the accessibility of erotica, audiences still seek out the more substantial approaches to sex that only narrative cinema can offer.
Here you’ll find the full array, from Sixties-era cautionary tales to incisive art films that scrutinise the theme of sexual obsession.
Sex comedy2008116 minsDirector: Anna Biller
Anna Biller's outrageous sexploitation satire follows bored housewife Barbi as she searches for adventure in predatory 1970s Los Angeles.
Drama1976133 minsDirector: Tinto Brass
Before Caligula, Italian provocateur Tinto Brass directed this controversial and transgressive drama, inspired by the true story of a Nazi-run brothel in 30s Berlin.
Thriller2010107 minsDirector: Im Sang-soo
An enigmatic housemaid and her wealthy, totalitarian employer begin an affair that will have disastrous consequences for them both.
Drama197088 minsDirector: Radley Metzger
A decadent couple and their son invite a circus stunt-woman back to their castle for an evening of erotic games, role-play and revelations.
Drama1986185 minsDirector: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Jean-Jacques Beineix’s story of a volatile, highly sexual relationship was one of the most successful French films of the 1980s.
Drama199135 minsDirector: Constantine Giannaris
Years before Grindr, a gay man turns to virtual reality to satisfy his sexual fantasies in this strangely prophetic short film.
Drama1974106 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s serpentine erotic mystery presented as a surreal investigation into a woman with feared sexual powers.
Drama196998 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s sensual fantasy follows a group of students who enter a bizarre sado-masochistic realm after taking a mysterious drug.
Horror197982 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s best-known film is the most full-blooded of his vampire tales, teeming with sex and lavishly filmed gore scenes
Drama201290 minsDirector: Kieran Evans
In modern Liverpool, a couple meet and begin a transgressive, sexually charged affair set against a background of crime and encroaching danger.
Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.
Comedy197598 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
An outrageous classic of erotic cinema, Walerian Borowczyk’s playful and subversive fantasy finds a horny heiress courting the ravenous desires of a wild beast.
Horror196985 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s second vampire film is a mesmerisingly surreal art-horror, short on logic but steeped in gorgeously sensual imagery.
Thriller2006110 minsDirector: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.
Biopic2012117 minsDirector: Peter Greenaway
An artist stages a series of erotic dramatisations illustrating sexual taboos from the Old Testament, in this startling and shocking return from director Peter Greenaway.
201360 minsDirector: James Franco
James Franco and Travis Mathews recreate explicit footage cut, rumoured to be lost, from one of the most notorious gay features ever made.
Drama1978113 minsDirector: Ron Peck
A schoolteacher juggles everyday life with nights spent cruising for Mr Right in this fascinating landmark in British gay cinema.
Documentary199191 minsDirector: Ron Peck
Ron Peck’s experimental follow up to the groundbreaking Nighthawks is both a making-of documentary and a deeply personal film memoir.
Drama1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder
Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.
Drama1969116 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder
The first feature by Barbet Schroeder (Maîtresse, The Valley), More created a sensation when it was released in 1969, quickly becoming a cult classic and famed for its Pink Floyd soundtrack.
Drama198198 minsDirector: Tony Garnett
Explicit and controversial drama. An ambitious working girl moves to London hoping to securing wealthier patrons, while her social worker friend fights to change antiquated prostitution laws.
Thriller1984107 minsDirector: Ken Russell
Ken Russell's second Hollywood films is a deliriously excessive erotic thriller with Kathleen Turner as an imperilled prostitute.
198524 minsDirector: Ron Peck
Ron Peck tests the thin line between pornography and art with his amusing rumination on the difficulties of showing the naked male form.
Drama200896 minsDirector: Bernard Rose
Bernard Rose updates Tolstoy's tale about the corrupting power of sex and jealousy, with Danny Huston as the wealthy husband of a beautiful, famous pianist (Elisabeth Röhm).
Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.
Drama198920 minsDirector: Nigel Wingrove
Nigel Wingrove's experimental depiction of the erotic imaginings of the 16th Century Carmelite nun remains the only film ever to banned under Britain's blasphemy laws.
Drama1975142 minsDirector: Stephen Dwoskin
Five strangers explore their fantasies over a period of five days in Stephen Dwoskin's remarkable experimental film.
Biopic2015106 minsDirector: Peter Greenaway
One of Britain’s most inventive filmmakers, Peter Greenaway, tackles the story of arguably the most influential filmmaker in cinema history, Sergei Eisenstein.