Emmanuelle (1974)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  3 December 1974 (USA)
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The wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok, Emmanuelle embarks on a voyage of sexual discovery.


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Complete credited cast:
Alain Cuny ...
Marika Green ...
Daniel Sarky ...
Jeanne Colletin ...
Gabriel Briand ...
(as Gaby Brian)


Emmanuelle is a beautiful young model and lives in Bangkok together with her husband Jean, who's several years older. She likes him because he's taught her much, and he likes her because she's learning so well - and wants to often. Both are very tolerant in matters of extramarital affairs, so he doesn't mind the young Marie-Ange coming over every so often, although she obviously wants more than talk from his wife. But Emmanuelle is more fascinated by the older Bee, and joins her on a trip into the jungle. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 December 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Emmanuelle  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)


SEK 2,011,741 (Sweden)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (R-rated) | (cut) | (dvd release)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Some of this film's score stole King Crimson's tune called "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part 2", which was composed by the band's leader Robert Fripp. A lawsuit ensued and was settled out of court. See more »


(at around 1 min) When Emmanuelle is on the plane, she closes the blind fully and curls up. A fellow passenger sits down and embraces her. In addition to the high spotlight on her cleavage, there's a bright light coming from the direction of said covered window. See more »


Emmanuelle: I wonder if I've been dreaming for quite some now.
Mario: It's because we're abroad. As exiles, we're reduced to futile pastimes. Napoleon passed the time on St Helena counting his spoons. One mustn't become resigned at any price. Here in Bangkok if you say that, everyone will agree. But if you talk of sex, then you will have sinned against our ancestral taboos. l'm a collector. It's a very respected occupation, collecting. I collect situations.
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Referenced in Studio Julmahuvi: Episode #1.3 (1998) See more »


Sung by Pierre Bachelet
Mixed by Paul Bertault
Post-synchronized by Jean-Claude Duval as J.-C. Duval
Auditorium Antegor - Dames Augustines
Published by De Wolfe [uk]
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User Reviews

Soft Focus Existentialism-Lite
25 June 2004 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

This was the first in a series of erotic films which were made possible by the increasingly liberal moral climate of the seventies and eighties and which enjoyed a success de scandale. The main character, Emmanuelle herself, is the attractive young wife of Jean, an older French diplomat in Bangkok, and the film chronicles her various sexual escapades. There is not, in fact, any real plot. Emmanuelle is seen having sex with her husband, with other men and, even more, with other women; lesbianism is, along with swimming, squash and cocktail parties, one of the main diversions of the bored ladies of Bangkok's French expatriate community.

Although this was one of the first productions of the mainstream cinema to deal with erotic subject-matter frankly, it is not particularly explicit. Much of the sexual action is implied, and what is shown directly is often shot from a distance. The eroticism of the film is softened by the way it is photographed. Outdoor scenes are shot in a blurry soft focus against a background of brilliant sunshine; indoor ones, by contrast, are generally dark or dimly lit. The leading actress, Sylvia Kristel, with her slim, boyish figure and the gentle beauty of her features, seems perfectly at home in this soft, unreal-seeming atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are still scenes that seem shocking even thirty years on. One of Emmanuelle's lovers, Marie-Ange, is a teenage girl only dubiously of the age of consent, something that seems to have caused less consternation in the seventies than it would do today. (The actress who played her was in fact eighteen, but the intention seems to have been to make the pigtailed, lollipop-sucking Marie-Ange a bisexual Lolita figure). Emmanuelle's Thai houseboy, aroused by the sight of her and her husband making love, pursues and has sex with one of the housemaids. It is never made clear whether or not this is an act of rape; the boundary between consensual and non-consensual sex is blurred in a manner which I found distasteful.

Like certain other Continental erotic films of this period, the 'Emmanuelle' series is marked by a certain pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness. This is particularly apparent in the second half of this film when the heroine, after being jilted by one of her lesbian lovers (the oddly named Bee), takes up with the elderly Mario, a man who, despite his grey hair and advancing years, fancies himself both as a lover and as a thinker. The rest of the film is frequently punctuated by Mario's thoughts on the meaning of life, carefully enunciated in a deep, gravelly voice, somewhere between an Old Testament prophet and an Orson Welles sherry commercial, which gives them the air of oracular pronouncements. Sex, in Mario's philosophy, ceases to be a taboo and becomes a duty. One owes it to oneself, and indeed to the world in general, to experience physical pleasure in as many ways as possible, with as many partners as possible, and to liberate oneself from all ways of thinking that might hinder one from this aim. The consequence of not doing so is that one will fail in one's solemn and sacred duty to Live Life To The Full.

It is this sort of Existentialism-Lite, Sartre meets Hugh Hefner, that makes the film seem so dated today, far more than do trivial period details such as Jean's sideburns or the garish lime-green paintwork of his sports car. This sort of cod-philosophy became one of the first casualties of the AIDS epidemic. If we watch 'Emmanuelle' today, it is not as an erotic experience, despite the undoubted charm of its heroine, and certainly not as an intellectual one, but as a slight, inadvertently amusing period piece. 4/10

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