As far as controversial movies go, there simply are none more legendary than the elusive Maladolescenza (aka Spielen wir Liebe and Puppy Love). You can take your uncut Aftermath, Emmanuelle in America or Island of Death - they pale in comparison.
The story is simple, and it is not because of an especially elaborate script that the movie has become so legendary. The film starts out by letting us follow two young teens, Fabrizio and Laura (Martin Loeb and Lara Wendel) and seeing how their relationship develops. They live on the outskirts of an idyllic forest and spend a lot of their time playing games in the forest, games that hint at the budding sexuality and the uncomfortable tension between the teenagers. We see glimpses of a sadistic side of Fabrizio, but Laura forgets all about it after she finally makes love to Fabrizio in an old ruin.
So far so good, but this is where a mysterious blonde girl, Silvia (Eva Ionesco), enters the picture. Fabrizio is smitten by her and starts tormenting Laura, and as summer draws to an end, his cruelty gets more and more intense and the movie progresses towards the inevitable conclusion.
Alright, so what's so controversial about it then? Well, you could just as well ask what's so controversial about a softcore porn flick starring 12-year olds, because that's basically what Maladolescenza is. Completely impossible to make in today's sexuohostile (hey, I just made that word up!) society, Maladolescenza is one of very few movies that deals with teenage relationships and doesn't shy away from the more physical aspects. All of the sex scenes are - of course - simulated, but there is plenty of nudity, something that a lot of people for some reason have always had problems dealing with.
Maladolescenza marked the rise to semi-stardom for the young Eva Ionesco. Daughter of French photographer Irina Ionesco, Eva was no stranger to nudity. Since age 5 she had posed for her mother; in many of the photographs she was nude, and in her early teens many of the photos bordered on all-out erotica. Again something that would be impossible and quite possibly illegal today, but hardly worth any notice in the mid-70's. Eva has starred in almost 50 movies since her breakthrough in Maladolescenza.
Martin Loeb, the young actor who played Fabrizio, made just one film after Maladolescenza, and then disappeared into obscurity. Lara Wendel (Laura) on the other hand has made some semi-successful films with directors like Federico Fellini, Umberto Lenzi, Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento.
While some people call it child porn and try to insist the movie is illegal, that is not the case in most countries run by sane people, and you can for instance buy it in many countries in the European Union, completely uncut. There are also several versions where genitalia have been either pixelated or blurred out, often to comply with local laws (the Japanese versions I have seen are all either fogged or pixelated). If you want a copy of the real, uncut version, you could for instance visit the Dutch movie store Cine City. Just make sure you check your local laws; there are plenty of idiots who claim that nudity = porn and that a nude person under the age of 18 = child porn. Photographers like Jock Sturges, David Hamilton and Sally Mann have all had legal problems because they have photographed children nude, but their photos have been legally declared as art and not porn, and the same thing should apply to Maladolescenza, if there is any sense at all left in this world.
One thing though - the movie is in Italian, and as far as I know, no subtitled version exists. You don't need subtitles though; you can understand the plot pretty well anyway.
At 32.50 Euros, it's well worth buying - not because the movie is particularly good, but because it is a movie that stands as a testament of a time long lost, a time when nudity wasn't automatically considered pornography and sexuality wasn't automatically considered dirty. Whatever happened to those days?
Editor, dirty old man, hater of censorship & movie aficionado
(It pains me to do so, but I have censored the screenshots. I don't want to get in trouble because of some idiot reporting "child porn" on this site. Don't blame me, blame the fucking idiots that make bullshit laws.)