There have been many forced sex scenes shown on the big and small screen down the years and it’s a subject which fascinates many of us. Here is my attempt to summarize the genre.
Most famous scene
Of all the rape scenes ever filmed, perhaps the most high profile was in The Accused (1988) when Jodie Foster was held down on a pinball table and gang raped by a bunch of rednecks in a bar. This was the first mainstream Hollywood movie to tackle the taboo subject of rape head-on and Foster’s Oscar win gave the debate about whether a woman is ever ‘asking for it’ some welcome exposure.
Monica Bellucci looked stunning throughout Irreversible (2002) especially when she was dressed up in a sexy little party dress on the night she is attacked. She had the misfortune to take a shortcut home which led to an unwelcome meeting with a vicious pimp, who brutally raped her in the ass in a subway. The scene is very long and very realistic, shot in one continuous take designed to make the viewer feel as though they are a witness to the assault.
Best rape scene
There’s no real answer to this as everyone will have their own personal favorite — even Quentin Tarantino. He got in trouble a few years back when he said that Jackson County Jail (1976) featured the “best rape scene” he’d ever seen. I’m not sure why he would say that publicly, but it is a great scene. The acting is first rate, there’s nudity and the scene is not gratuitous at all.
Pretty blonde Yvette Mimieux plays a woman imprisoned for the night when she is attacked in her cell by a local sheriff, who then cries with shame after he finishes fucking her. The whole thing is witnessed by Tommy Lee Jones in the cell next door, who despite his anger can do nothing about it.
The rape revenge genre was at its peak in the 70s when films like I Spit on Your Grave (1978) were popular. The plots were simple — a woman is raped near the beginning of the film and by the end the rapists have been killed in vengeance.
In I Spit on Your Grave, Camille Keaton takes a vacation in a quiet backwater only to be terrorized and assaulted by a local gang who rape her three times. She spends the rest of the movie murdering them one by one. The controversial flick was remade in 2010 with Sarah Butler giving a good performance in the leading role, although the rape scenes were toned down a bit for a more mainstream release.
Most controversial scene
Sam Peckinpah’s cult thriller Straw Dogs (1971) features an ambiguous rape scene that is still the cause of debate to this day. When Susan George’s ex lover forces himself on her, she can’t seem to decide whether she wants to have sex or not, initially resisting but then kissing him passionately as they have sex before appearing traumatized afterwards. This resulted in the movie being banned for many years in Britain because the British Board of Film Classification decided that Susan George’s character “comes to enjoy being raped”.
The movie was remade in 2011 with Kate Bosworth playing the victim, but the rape scene was far less graphic and there was no nudity either.
Incest — the ultimate taboo
If rape is a taboo subject in Hollywood, forced incest is considered far worse and Hollywood hasn’t touched it. It was left to Tim Roth’s gritty UK drama The War Zone (1999) to tackle the subject with Ray Winstone forcing himself on his 18 year old daughter Lara Belmont a number of times. The acting is superb and the scenes are quite disturbing, with Winstone himself reported to have nearly left the production because he found acting the infamous ‘bunker scene’ so upsetting.
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