Le Ménage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly - Notability

Notability

Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly is the oldest known motion picture to depict hardcore homosexual sex acts on film.

The first known motion pictures depicting nude men were made by Eadweard Muybridge in the 1880s and 1890s as part of his studies of human locomotion.

The first known pornographic film of any kind appears to have been made in 1908. Between 1908 and the advent of public theatrical screenings in the United States in 1970, about 2,000 hardcore pornographic films were made. (Roughly 500 of these were made prior to 1960.) The best estimate is that about 10 percent of all hardcore "stag films" made prior to 1970 contain some sort of homosexual activity. This ranges from an innocuous hand on a shoulder, thigh or hip to hardcore anal and oral sex (and much more). Nevertheless, nearly all the extant works depict homosexual sex in the context of a heterosexual hegemony. Most depict homosexual sex occurring during heterosexual intercourse (essentially making the sex act bisexual in nature).

Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly is unusual in that it not only depicts homosexual sex acts, but that it does so very early in the history of pornographic film. However, like most of the films which came after it, Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly only shows male-male sex acts as deviant, firmly establishes the heterosexuality of the characters, and often depicts the sex acts as essentially bisexual (e.g., male-male sexual contact occurs while the men are also having heterosexual intercourse).

The film is also notable for being one of the first adult films to be produced or directed by Bernard Natan. Scholars have expressed surprise that a beginning filmmaker would produce a work which contained sex acts which might anger or offend its target audience (straight men). That Bernard would do so is a testament, film historians have said, to his willingness to take risks and his subtle understanding of the role homoeroticism and homosexuality play in French male sexual identity.

Natan's willingness to not only produce, write, and direct but also star in a hardcore bisexual film is even more startling when one recognizes that, within nine years of the release of Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly, Bernard Natan would be the owner of the largest mainstream film studio in France—Pathé.

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