Emmanuelle Review

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The wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok, Emmanuelle embarks on a voyage of sexual discovery. And that’s about it really


Seminal (ahem) soft core porn classic, based on the autobiographical novel by actress Emmanuelle Arsan, that became a huge breakout box-offiice across the world, offering a less graphic, couple friendly take on the genre than the prevailing likes of Deep Throat and Behind The Green Door. First time director Just Jaecklin’s film is the movie that set the clichés for the soft core films to follow; the soft focus centerfold aesthetic, the bizarrely Victorian lingerie, the soft pastel colour schemes and wicker chairs, the woodlands of potted plants and draperies blowing in a cooling breeze — it all started here.

      While Emmanuelle had been essayed before by Erika Blanc in IO, Sylvia Kristel, then just 22, gives the essential take on the character, adding a sweetness and innocence, actually giving the traces of a performance in between joining the mile high club, lesbian romps and sex as a spectator sport in a Thai warehouse. Elsewhere, Alain Cuny, who was slumming it after appearing in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, gives a performance of over the top solemnity as Emmanuelle’s aged mentor and the scenes sandwiched inbetween the rumpy pumpy are so serious as to border on parody.
  • Still it kickstarted a franchise that fostered many official and unofficial entries, not to mention many variations of spelling on the lead character’s name — a Sylvia Krystel-Mia Nygren run of films, that started in 1984 with Emmanuelle 4 spelled the character with two ms while a strand starring Laura Gemser only went with one. To add further confusion, the Carry On entry added a double N. *