Utopia and censorship: Iranian cinema at the crossroads of love, sex and tradition | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1059-440X
  • E-ISSN: 2049-6710



Iranian censorship forbids depictions of unrelated men and women touching one another. Given this, western scholars generally view Iranian cinema as poor territory for exploring love, sex and desire, with some even suggesting that pornography and Iranian cinema are two contrasting entities. Granted, it is difficult to find a direct representation of love and sex in Iranian movies but this limitation does not mean that Iranian cinema is devoid of such topics. In fact, as Hamid Naficy and Shahla Haeri both argue, Iranian directors have proposed very sophisticated, complex and ingenious methods for discussing eroticism, love and passion in their movies. When faced with strict censorship and social and moral barriers, what methods have Iranian directors developed in order to address love, desire and passion? In what ways do these methods emancipate or emasculate Iranian artists in their quest to express love and eroticism? This article attempts to answer these questions, arguing that it makes little sense to say that any authoritative system with a system of hegemony could prevent its citizens from expressing this impulse in their works since the sexual instinct is life’s drive and only at the moment of death can humans deny its existence. What is essential, radical and utopian is to read the meaning of eroticism in Iranian cinema through the specific culture in which the drive has been developed and shaped.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): censorship; eroticism; Iranian cinema; love; romance; sex
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