Nudity in cinema today feels almost commonplace, a routine image that sits in the background as a plot device or character trope. But it wasn’t always that accepted. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies examines how nudity was met all the way back in the 1800’s, up through its evolution in modern cinema. This very forthcoming documentary sheds light on the groundbreaking films that helped bring nudity into accepted society, as well as the impact of the #MeToo movement on the treatment of actors with sex scenes. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies gives an honest portrayal of sexual experiences on camera, and is an important watch for anyone who’s interested in the inner workings of film.
Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies is a 2020 documentary, directed by Danny Wolf (Gigolos TV Series 2016) and written by Wolf and Paul Fishbein (American Kamasutra 2018). This 130 minute documentary doesn’t feel a single bit of wear from its runtime. They feature ten different “talking heads” who are influential actors and directors with first-hand perspectives on the movie-making business. They go decade by decade, pointing out the changing times in the landscape of film, and highlighting the films that were brave enough to stand out with nudity in their period. Each decade came with challenges, as the ratings systems, and societies tastes, dealt with such a taboo subject.
One of the things that stands out about Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies is that the viewer gets a realistic view of both sides of the coin. The interviewees give credence to the groundbreaking films and creators who pushed the limits of exposing the human form on camera. But the inverse is also true. The viewer also gets first-hand accounts of some of the lewd and embarrassing experiences that go along with nudity on film sets. Not only in the acts of filming, but in the effects that it has on the performers afterward. A lot of these films were met with push-back and challenges, and those pratfalls are given their share of time. The documentary is kind enough to splice in the clips of the films that the interviewees are referring to, so the viewer can get a real-time education on some movies that they hadn’t previously been exposed to.
It is important in these trying times that we are cognizant of consent, and that we can encourage others to love their bodies and embrace their sexuality. That is the wonderfully informative and educational message that Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies tries to convey. We can only hope that the continued evolution of film is kind to that message. This documentary is officially available on demand on August 18th.