Cinema: Teutonic Enlightenment

French film makers frequently treat sex as a farce, and Swedes as a midnight-sun ritual. But for the Germans—ah, the Germans—it seems to be a subject to be explained.

Recently, the most successful commercial products of West German studios have been what the men in Munich call Aufklaerungsfilme (enlightenment movies). In essence, these are illustrated hygiene lectures about the varieties of sexual experience, padded out to feature length with one-dimensional plots. Unlike conventional grind-circuit skin shows, enlightenment movies approach sex with Teutonic seriousness, even though their accounts of reproduction and related matters are illustrated with explicit nude sequences. In Helga, the first...

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