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Emmanuelle
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Emmanuelle More at IMDbPro »

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68 out of 95 people found the following review useful:

Soft Focus Existentialism-Lite

4/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
25 June 2004

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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49 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

A milestone in erotic cinema

7/10
Author: Peter Hayes from United Kingdom
17 October 2002

Whether you like it or not this is a milestone in the history of cinema. Like the James Bond movie Thunderball set new standards for violence in mainstream cinema, Emmanuel set new standards for sexual content.

Certainly the film was an amazing hit and box office records quickly tumbled. It is the most seen French film of all time and holds the record for the longest run at a single non-multiplex cinema (18 months in Paris, France). After this film sex on film was a completely different beast and many directors (new and old) used part of the template.

Anyone one wanting a dirty movie will be sadly disappointed. Here sex is treated as natural, rarely earth shattering and almost matter-of-fact. The bedroom is only one of the locations where the act takes place - in fact I am surprised the participants weren't arrested!

Sylvia Kristel plays a newly married wife of 22 (19 in reality) with no previous film experience (this is no accident). Previously she had only appeared in commercials. She is the innocent who becomes corrupted, but it is a journey of corruption she is happy to take. Her nice-but-cold older husband is also all for it. The circumstances behind their marriage are not even touched upon - but maybe it was a marriage of convenience as he is a world travelling diplomat?

For a film aimed at men, men are rarely shown in a great light. Emmanuel finds she is bisexual and looks happier with women than with men - who commonly treat her as a sex object. If she appeared brighter she could even be viewed as a feminist icon, but even the high queen of feminism Germaine Greer says she is a "bimbo."

Lot of things are dated in this movie. The view of casual unprotected sex certainly. There is even a casual rape. But its use of third-world locations is a treat on the eye (on the big screen especially) and there is nothing substandard about the production. Even the music is first class and still does the rounds on its own.

The photography is as good as you would see in a big budget epic. The film moves along at a slow but steady pace and you do look forward to finding out what happens next or how a situation is resolved.

The film is nothing but a study of an open marriage from the female perspective. The fact that she yields to the experiences and becomes more sexual bold is clearly pleasing to the male viewer. No doubt this was a date movie for males those that wanted their partners to follow her lead.

This is a clever erotic movie. It stays in the mind long after seeing it and Kristel looks comfortable with or without her clothes. She is far from a great actress, but she does have poise and dignity. The sequels that followed are nothing more than attempts to extract more money from a franchise and are merely routine entertainment.

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Sweet-looking Sylvia Kristel keeps our eyes alert…

7/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
12 August 2008

"Emmanuelle" is an elegant, excellently photographed movie, but too often rolls in a syrupy pretension…

It is about a young, French woman who joins her husband in Bangkok… There much of Emmanuelle's allure is that she isn't shy about her body, or even afraid to engage in sexual activity in semipublic places…

There are a number of rousing, lesbian meetings very typical of French cinema, coupled with encounters with handsome, sensitive men who enjoy superficial lovemaking… The film really deals in sensual images and an over-blown, continuous repeating of its erotic philosophy… There is sensual intimacy between Emmanuelle and the other women that is rare in the cinema…

My favorite moment when teen-ager Christine Boisson comes upon the nude Sylvia Kristel asleep… Without embarrassment, she leans forward and unusually caresses gently and affectionately Emmanuelle's breast with her finger…

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27 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

I won't bother thinking up a pun to go with Bangkok...

7/10
Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
1 August 2006

Going into this film, the only thing that I was really worried about was that it might be boring. It's not that I particularly have anything against pornography; but what's taboo now and what was taboo over three decades ago are different things, and besides that; you can only watch people having sex for so long before it begins to get dull. However, I was wrong; the film isn't boring, and while the focus is usually on sex; there actually is a story, and it actually is quite interesting! The film is unlikely to appeal to people that are interested in the more perverted side of sex as the film doesn't feature anything above lesbian sex, but the tender way that the story is presented as well as the French style give it a very erotic feel throughout. The plot, as you might expect, focuses on the character 'Emmanuelle', a young woman that lives with her husband; an older man, in Bangkok. They share a sort of teacher-pupil relationship, and they're also very liberal where adultery is concerned, as neither one cares too much about the other's antics with other people.

This film inspired a barrage of slightly less tasteful sequels, as well as a range of Italian films, many of which were directed by sleaze God Joe D'Amato. I don't think the filmmakers intended Emmanuelle to be associated so closely with sleaze, and actually at times; it doesn't really feel like a porn film; more of a drama with sex. I've got no idea how many taboos this film broke upon it's release over three decades ago, but the fact that it doesn't really break many today does it a favour where class is concerned as the film never feels too dirty, and this bodes well with the high class of the lead characters and setting. Sylvia Kristel takes the lead role, and is believable as a sexually naive young woman. She is joined by a number of eye-pleasing actresses, including Christine Boisson and Marika Green, and all get to take their clothes off in several scenes. The settings in which it all takes place are pleasing also, and the film is of a much higher class than a lot of nowadays porn. I'm surprised that Emmanuelle still has a notorious reputation, as it's only soft-core at best; but it's definitely worth seeing, if only to see how much things have changed!

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33 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

A pleasant touch of sensuality in this film that so many of the modern day films lack.

8/10
Author: canunpawinyan from United States
12 March 2005

Emmanuelle was the first adult film I ever viewed and it delighted me. It was erotic, but it had the added element of sensuality. I believe the element of sensuality is what made it so good.... For a woman, sensuality is an important factor. The fact that Emmanuelle wasn't hardcore, nor was it nasty made for better viewing. Nor was it harsh or ugly as many porn films tend to be. Too many of the films made today lack sensuality, they are cold and obviously put on. Although,I found the story was a bit odd, it was exotic. Exotic in the setting, exotic with it's use of dim lighting. Sylvia Kristel was beautiful and natural in this film. In the world of erotica, it's definitely a classic and worth seeing.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The 30th Anniversary of an adult classic

Author: rcj5365 from Durham, North Carolina
3 September 2004

Rarely has a foreign film of such magnitude was so eagerly anticipated in America as when the movie "Emmanuelle" was released in the summer of 1974. Advance publicity had done the trick. The film was based on the controversial and quite scandalous 1957 novel by the pseudonymous Emmanuelle Arsan that was banned by the French Government and the Prime Minister of France not to mention several Asian countries where the film was not seen until 20 years later. But in spite having it banned,it was a shock only to see it become France's all-time box office champ. Even to this day,and in spite the film's 30th Anniversary,Emmanuelle is considered to be among the best soft-core adult films ever made and since then it has continued to draw well long after the success of it ran here in the states,despite negative reviews from critics and equally word of mouth,is one of the true mysteries of the cinema,and a protégé of what the 1970's adult cinema was to become. For one the film was a overnight sensation,and from this film spawned a record number of 13 Emmanuelle "sequel" films,each starring different actresses,ranging from Emmanuelle Arsan,Laura Gemser,Holly Sampson,etc; a late-night adult cable series based on the character,not to mention several "hard-core" adult films based on this too that went straight to video,and to this the series has become second to James Bond as one of the longest-running series in the history of the cinema,and as of this writing the Emmanuelle series is still going strong,30 years later.

But getting back to "Emmanuelle" the simple formula which was from the original and was to be used again in several of sequels of the series has the type of a beautiful "free-spirited" woman who seeks her identity through various sexual encounters with everyone and almost everywhere and with everyone in the cast;lots of stripping and nude sunbathing,full-frontal nudity,graphic sexual content that has acts of sodomy(where there is no protection of sexually transmitted diseases) including several acts of homosexuality between the men and the women(lesbianism),incompetent males who want nothing else than a piece of a woman's flesh and to do what they want with her,and extreme close-ups of women in the throes of sexual ecstasy with heavy breathing on the soundtrack-but it is done with lush music and plush sets. Unlike the other foreign films that go by the "soft-core" method,the simple formula for Emmanuelle would be used again in several films including another French erotica classic,"The Story Of O",the next year,1975.

Was "Emmanuelle" a surefire moneymaker at America's reveal houses? When this film was released in 1974,the audience that were going to see this film weren't exactly popular with couples,but it was the men that were going back to see this film not once,but many times since the majority of the viewing audience were males,and their dates since the women in the audience may find this to be too shocking since it was very degrading to females. The film's distributor,Columbia Pictures-at the time was facing bankruptcy and was still smarting from one of the biggest flops with the musical disaster,the remake of "Lost Horizon" (1973)-had thought enough of Emmanuelle to make it the studio's second film to be "X-rated",and the first since "Bob,Carol,Ted and Alice"(1970) which was not very successful. Realizing that there was a major audience who wanted to sample a sex film,the studio(Columbia)wisely booked Emmanuelle into first-run theaters,making it a bona fide hit for the studio,which at the time no one particularly liked it since the French were preferring to it as "a masterpiece of eroticism".

The film gave an unknown Dutch-British actress Sylvia Kristel,who was very young when this film came out and made her an overnight sensation,which made her a major movie star,who would go on to star in three more "Emmanuelle" films. However,Sylvia Kristel is surprisingly good in a bad film;her lack of inhibitions,particularly in several scenes in the way she dresses,has an undeniably erotic effect and from there the she really shines in her performance despite the negative reviews. To also note that Kristel(the first Emmanuelle)is one of the few actresses to make to jump from sex films to mainstream films that are rated "R","PG",and "G". Most recently,out of the 13 films that were made based on "Emmanuelle" that series to this day is still going strong.

Happy 30th Anniversary-Emmanuelle!

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The definitive softcore adult film.

Author: BlackJack_B
11 June 2002

Pac-Man is the grand old man of video games, Hulk Hogan is the grand old man of pro wrestling; Sylvia Kristel is the great dame of the softcore porn industry, and even today is still revered for her role as Emmanuelle.

Emmanuelle came out in the swinging seventies and still stands as one of the finest films of the genre. The Emmanuelle series features great scenery from exotic parts of the world, superb sensuality, and the fact that man-made babes are disallowed here.

22 year-old Kristel plays Emmanuelle (based on author Emmanuelle Arsan's erotica), a recently married young woman who is quite new to the world of sensuality. Married to a much older man, and free to explore her sexuality without any consequence, we see her going from place to place, yearning to learn more.

There's a lot to like here. Steamy settings in Thailand, lust on a squash court, a great fight scene in which the victor would get to have a "philosophical discussion" with Emmanuelle, skinny dipping, and a neat trick that a showgirl can do with a cigarette are some of the attractions. Miss Kristel is absolutely gorgeous and plays the innocent beautifully. The acting is a lot better than the usual American softcore film is. A film worth a look; you'll look at these films at a different light after this one.

BTW, I've seen both the original and English-dubbed versions; in the latter, the voices for Emmanuelle and Marie-Ange (played by 17 year-old Christine Boisson) are whack and cute at the same time. Especially in their conversations.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The ambiguity of Emmanuelle

Author: unbrokenmetal from Hamburg, Germany
11 May 2008

The biggest cinema surprise hit of 1975, based on a book by Emmanuelle Arsan, made Dutch model Sylvia Kristel a famous actress. The first thing you'll notice is that over 30 years later, the fascination with the exotic is still strong. It was worth going to Thailand and present the real thing instead of shooting "Asian" scenes in a park in Spain or Italy like many other European film crews did at the time. And it surely is one of the very few erotic films where you have to pay attention to the dialogs. It was important to explain the bizarre idea of "freedom" which the scandalous novel had introduced - arguably a two-edged sword. It is said that dependency is humiliating, but aren't scenes like when Emmanuelle is given as a "prize" to the Thai boxer even more humiliating? Easy to see why the movie stirred up discussions - which made even more people want to watch it. The ambiguity of this "freedom" in "Emmanuelle" thus was used for marketing. In her autobiography "Undressing Emmanuelle", Kristel recalls one scene with real horror: near the end, when she is raped by the opium smoker. The young man didn't understand a word of what she or the director said, so he just grabbed her. Sylvia's disgust is visible, and if the sequels hadn't been softer, she probably wouldn't have made them. The first Emmanuelle film still was experimenting with both visual style and a provocative attitude; it may have created a certain formula even though it didn't completely obey its rules, since it was rather the more gentle and glossy second Emmanuelle film which perfected the formula. I voted 7/8/6/4/6/7 for the six cinema films of the series.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Aircraft Simulator

7/10
Author: loza-1
12 September 2005

This film is loosely based on the erotic art novel by Emmanuelle Arsan.

The fact that it was directed by Just Jaeckin means that it is the best of the Emmanuelle series, and makes the others look like mere skin flicks, which I think they probably are anyway.

Sadly, in Britain, the censors, in an effort to save the British public from themselves, have hacked a few scenes out of it, including a "smoking" scene in a nightclub and a rape scene towards the end of the film.

Sylvia Kristel seems ideally cast as the protagoniste. Others have called her innocent, but this is not the case: she is not so innocent, but becomes even less so, as her adventures increase her learning and experience.

Compared with the novel, the sam-lo scenes are not so well done, and the Mario character is a bit tacky, otherwise the film is well done. Emmanuelle's encounter with Bee is better than the book. Not so good are one or two of the simulated sex scenes; they look pretty phony.

This film was exceedingly popular at the time it was released, and has lasted the test of time, even if some of the clothes have not.

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15 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

THE classic '70's Euro soft-core

7/10
Author: smatysia (feldene@comcast.net) from Houston
28 April 2002

A classic in its genre. I remember seeing the "Emmanuelle" films (in the days before video or cable TV) at the infamous midnight movies. I just watched it from the DVD in French w/English subtitles. I recommend this format whenever possible on foreign-language films. You can at least hear the actors own voices and the inflections that are often lost with poor dubbing. The acting seemed pretty decent, much better than this sort of film today. Grade: B

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