OK, so it’s 1991, the BBFC still rule video regulation with an iron fist (or huge scissors if you prefer), the internet is in its infancy and there is no R18 certificate – so where is anyone supposed to find material showing the perfectly natural act of two consenting adults having sex? Well, the simple answer is, of course, you couldn’t. Legally, that is. To this day I have never understood the ruling that sixteen year olds can engage in sex, but cannot watch it until they are eighteen – but I digress. In the post AIDS world, education was seen as necessary to try and stem the spread of this horrific virus and when producer Robert Page went to the then head of the BBFC, James Ferman, asking about filming condoms on erect penises, Ferman, the staunchest of BBFC directors’ and responsible for some of the most criminal censoring of cinema in British history, readily agreed that this was ok – pushing the boundaries further, Page wanted to film an educational video on love making – this too, unbelievably for the time, was agreed. Thus in 1991 the first uncensored sex was released on video and to a nation under the repression of the BBFC this was nothing short of a miracle – it’s little wonder it became a massive best seller. The ‘popular’ media were full of the usual horror stories of ‘pornography in the home’, but seriously these videos are aimed to educate, not to titillate, and express lovemaking as a natural act between two consenting adults, to intensify the intimacy one feels in the arms of your partner. It was an extremely successful formula, so much so that the videos were sold worldwide and have spawned numerous sequels, each one improving on the next. The series was also never afraid to take on new technologies – the last entry was interactive. So here we are now, twenty years on, and the latest of the Lovers' Guide discs has arrived, this time in the brand new format of 3D. This version even had a limited theatrical run. So, what’s it all about?
This Lovers' Guide entry follows the precedent that has been set out before, in that it is a documentary on the human body, how it behaves during the sex act and how, most importantly, that sex act can be improved upon between consenting partners. It is a very simple premise and one that is universally accepted. The documentary itself is split up into several chapters, each one exploring a slightly different aspect, but, like the act itself, doesn’t dive direct into the sex, but takes it’s time to explain how and what is going on to promote the act in the first place. Starting off with the affirmation that love is a class A drug, one that wreaks havoc with our hormones, stimulating pleasure and pain with equal intensity, denying sleep and food to a body and ultimately driving people to procreate – that is the actual reason for the sex act, to ensure the continuation of our species. It’s just that our bodies, unlike those of every other animal on the planet, are not limited to one mating season – we are continually ready, and with the advent of contraception are free to indulge in as much sex as we want. With this in mind, the documentary asks us, what can we do to enhance this experience?
After this opening gambit we are introduced to the art of flirting and it shows some techniques of how to improve on this subtle art and what happens to our body language as we accept the situation – a prelude to seduction. Chapters on touching and kissing follow and tell of how these simple pleasures, both from a newly engaging couple just starting out on their adventure or a couple already in a stable relationship, even after many years, are exciting and enticing. How the mouth is incredibly sensitive and how a slow kiss can have more passion that diving in tongues first. Further chapters explore the nature of foreplay and how important it can be to improving both partners experience. Touching, licking, caressing even mutual masturbation all play their part in enhancing the feelings, a deal is made that showing your partner how aroused you are is a great indicator of sexual desire. How directing you partners hands or mouth to the areas you like by moaning when it’s right and keeping quiet when its wrong will help to teach them what you want and thus improve the experience. Many techniques are shown in how to sustain that desire, what to do and how to do it from both the male and female perspectives. Sex toys too have their place to play and can be used to enhance the act and not necessarily remain as a solo activity.
Eventually we get to the sex act itself and numerous positions are detailed and shown, though not explicitly – yes the models are having penetrative sex, but this is not porn, there are no up close and personal shots (even though there are climax shots), it’s seen in such a way to highlight the positions and how to achieve the best from them rather than any titillation. Once these have been demonstrated the documentary moves onto keeping the act interesting by talking about mild fetishes, such as dressing up, spanking or blindfolds, taking care to express the consensual nature and use of a ‘safe’ word. There is a small section on what to do if things don’t quite go right, how communication is key to understanding, and that the brain is the most sexual organ in the body, as without it there is no desire. The whole thing rounds off with how sex is exciting, and with practice, how good it can become, and, best of all, it preaches how sex between two lovers, intent on giving the other the best they can, is a far more rewarding experience than any one night stand. Advocating safe sex and stable relationships is a winner in my book.
So, if you think you’re looking for a cheap thrill here, you need to go back to the internet. This documentary is about exploring and improving your lovemaking and sharing that with a partner. It is erotic in what it shows, but it is not titillating, in much the same way as a pure naked body is. Thus as an educative tool The Lovers' Guide manages to inform and express its information well. The use of 3D is a nice gimmick, but ultimately, I think, it is unnecessary for this particular genre as it doesn’t add to the information being imparted. The film does look very good and the framing is such that there are some decent 3D effects, but, the documentary is about efficiently imparting it’s information and maybe the 3D gets in the way.
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