The Correct Order To Watch The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movies - SlashFilm (2024)

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The Correct Order To Watch The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movies - SlashFilm (1)

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E.L. James' original "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy is undoubtedly the most successful piece of fanfiction ever published. James turned the teen-friendly romance between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular "Twilight" franchise into an erotic reverie explored by the mysterious (and quite wealthy) entrepreneur Christian Grey and college journalist Kate Kavanaugh. It was a BDSM gateway drug that opened up a healthy portal for kink-curious young adults. You didn't have to feel like a freak for wanting to do what conservative society deemed freaky.

Was it good literature? Does it matter? James' novels have sold hundreds of millions of copies and been translated into 52 different languages. They are adored by people who never (or, more likely, secretly) knew they wanted to see Bella and Edward engage in consensual sadomasochism. I am happy they have these stories in their lives. What matters, at least when it comes to my bailiwick, is that you can't move that many books and not make a movie. And that's where the material gets awfully tricky.

The film series based on Meyer's "Twilight" concluded in 2012, three years before Sam Taylor-Johnson accepted the daunting challenge to make a studio-financed adaptation of James' first novel. This meant Universal, which won a heated Hollywood bidding war to make these movies, had to be mindful of three things: the expectations of adult fans who expected to get wildly turned on by the cinematic depiction of Christian and Kate's journey, the inquisitiveness of teen "Twilight" fans, and the Motion Picture Association's extremely conservative ratings criteria.

Taylor-Johnson could only play so rough, but she played it faithfully enough to launch the series. Thanks to her mostly-satisfactory-to-fans compromise, the "Fifty Shades" trilogy now exists in film form. And your first question is, naturally, what's the proper order in which to watch these suckers.

The correct viewing order

The Correct Order To Watch The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movies - SlashFilm (2)

Universal

I'm gonna give it to you straight, friend. There's only one proper way to enjoy the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movies, and that is to buy a box turtle (presuming you do not already own one; do not leave this to a snapping turtle, as they're more likely to consume a chunk of your finger than make a reasonable movie-night recommendation, much like Rex Reed), place three pieces of turtle food representing each title in the series on the floor at equidistant length and let the reptile be your guide.

According to my turtle, Howard, you should watch the "Fifty Shades" movies in this order:

  • "Fifty Shades of Grey" (2015)
  • "Fifty Shades Darker" (2016)
  • "Fifty Shades Freed" (2017)

My man is conventional, but he also understands that this is a saga told chronologically. They might be sexually charged, but, unlike the 28 "Blondie" movies made between 1938 and 1950, you can't just hop around. "Memento" this is not.

In any event, no matter what your turtle advises, what happens when you check out all three movies and want to watch more sexually charged dramas? I'm going to put Howard back in his aquarium and take it from here.

Further erotically tinged viewing

The Correct Order To Watch The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movies - SlashFilm (3)

Orion

If you found "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" interesting in any sense (and even if you didn't), you should absolutely track down three older movies from their director. James Foley's filmography is maddeningly inconsistent, but "At Close Range" and "After Dark, My Sweet" are superb. The former is a true-crime family drama that opens with a wordless meet-hot moment between Sean Penn and Mary Stuart Masterson, while the latter is a nasty, sweaty Jim Thompson noir powered by the supercharged, screw-happy chemistry between Jason Patric and Rachel Ward. Foley also directed the not-altogether-un-hot "Fear" starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg. These movies probably got him the "Fifty Shades" gigs, and he probably deserved better.

If you're looking to dive into the BDSM deep end, I am not overtly recommending Liliana Cavani's "The Night Porter." I mean, I am, but you need to read the premise and decide if that's something you can handle. And if you just want to see a couple of delectably sexy actors plunge headlong into a boundary-challenging erotic relationship (outside of the thriller genre), Philip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Adrian Lyne's "9 1/2 Weeks" and Luca Guadagnino's "Call Me by Your Name" await.

Finally, there is Jörg Buttgereit's "Nekromantik." There is always Jörg Buttgereit's "Nekromantik."

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The Correct Order To Watch The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movies - SlashFilm (2024)
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