||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2012)|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Just Jaeckin|
|Produced by||Yves Rousset-Rouard|
|Written by||Jean-Louis Richard|
by Emmanuelle Arsan
|Music by||Pierre Bachelet|
|Editing by||Claudine Bouché|
|Distributed by||Parafrance Films (France)
Columbia Pictures (USA)
|Running time||105 minutes|
|Box office||$100,000,000 (worldwide)|
Emmanuelle is a 1974 French softcore erotic film, directed by Just Jaeckin, and starring Sylvia Kristel. The screenplay was written by Jean-Louis Richard, based on the novel of the same name by Emmanuelle Arsan (Marayat Rollet-Andriane). The music score is by Pierre Bachelet
The film was highly successful in France and around the world. In Japan the film coined a new phrase, "emanieru suru" literally, "to do Emmanuelle", meaning "to have a casual and extravagant love affair". The film's popularity led to softcore erotic films briefly becoming "chic". The fact that it received widespread U.S. distribution by a major Hollywood studio has seen Emmanuelle referred to as the softcore equivalent of the successful hardcore porn release Deep Throat (1972). Columbia Pictures only agreed to distribute it after noting that most of the film's audience in French cinemas were women. The studio reasoned that female interest meant Emmanuelle could not be regarded as mere pornography.
It spawned several sequels and influenced many similar films. Much of the movie is filmed in soft-focus, which was a trademark of Jaeckin. Robert Fripp won an out-of-court settlement over the use of music in the film based on King Crimson's "Larks' Tongues in Aspic". The film had a total of 8,893,996 admissions in France where it was the number one highest grossing film of 1974.
In Bangkok, Emmanuelle finds herself bored and somewhat disgusted with the worldliness of her fellow French expatriates, until one day at a pool when she spies Bee, a Frenchwoman who she is informed is outside of most of the expatriate circles. After taking a nude swim, she is approached by a pretty young girl named Marie-Ange, who asks to meet Emmanuelle at her house. Intrigued, Emmanuelle agrees.
Marie-Ange arrives at the house and finds Emmanuelle sleeping, and takes advantage of the situation to feel the older woman's body. Emmanuelle wakes up and they go outside to the porch. Marie-Ange asks Emmanuelle if she has any photos of herself and Jean having sex, to which an incredulous Emmanuelle replies no. Marie-Ange takes a French magazine with a picture of Paul Newman and begins to masturbate in front of Emmanuelle, who watches, fascinated. Emmanuelle confesses to Marie-Ange that while she did not cheat on her husband in Paris, she did have sex with two strangers on the flight over to Bangkok. Emmanuelle begins to pleasure herself for Marie-Ange as she recounts the tryst.
That night, Emmanuelle tells Jean about Marie-Ange, expressing her amazement at the younger girl's seemingly complete lack of shame, and Jean encourages her to pursue the friendship further. During a squash match the next day, Emmanuelle's friend Ariane comments on her being damp from sweat, and begins to feel her up.
At a party soon afterwards, Marie-Ange introduces Emmanuelle to one of her older lovers, a gentleman named Mario, who tells her that he will send a car for her the next night, but Emmanuelle is unimpressed. She spies Bee and strikes up a conversation, wishing to meet with Bee in more private quarters. Bee, an archaeologist, tells Emmanuelle that she is leaving the next day for a dig, but tells her to meet her at the khlongs.
When they meet up at the khlongs, Emmanuelle follows Bee around, but Bee is uninterested in playing with Emmanuelle. Undeterred, Emmanuelle gets on Bee's jeep as she is about to leave for the dig site.
Back at the house, Jean is angered that Emmanuelle has left without telling him anything. Suspecting that Ariane is behind it, he goes and demands answers from her, but Ariane tells him that all she has to offer is consolation sex. An enraged Jean takes her on a table.
At first, Emmanuelle's affair with Bee is on rocky footing; they stop to go skinny-dipping on the way to the dig site, but when Emmanuelle tries to relax next to Bee while they dry off, she brushes her off, saying that they've already lost time. After reaching the dig site, Bee starts to warm up to her new companion, but throughout the day, Emmanuelle distracts her from her work. They finally make love, but afterwards, Bee asks Emmanuelle to leave. Emmanuelle returns home in tears, feeling humiliated. Jean tries to comfort her, advising her that the best way to get over Bee is to take another lover.
At the squash courts the following day, Emmanuelle and Ariane argue. Ariane is jealous that Emmanuelle ran off with Bee, as she herself had hoped to be Emmanuelle's first female lover, while Emmanuelle is displeased at Ariane for having sex with Jean. Ariane protests that it was more like rape than consensual sex, then advises Emmanuelle to meet with Mario, telling her that at his age, making love becomes so difficult that any man capable of it must be an artist.
Later, Emmanuelle consults with Jean, who has decided to encourage the relationship between her and Mario by leaving her with him for two days. She expresses a desire to take Marie-Ange as her new lover instead, but Jean informs her that Marie-Ange has gone off on a trip with her parents - a fact that he knows because he has slept with her - and so Emmanuelle resigns herself to a meeting with Mario.
At their first dinner together, Mario tells Emmanuelle that monogamy will soon die out. He tells her that she must learn to let lust, rather than guilt or reason, guide her when it comes to sex. This, he says, will lead her to greater levels of pleasure than she ever imagined possible. To begin instilling this lesson in her, he takes her to an opium den, where she is raped by one of the denizens while he watches.
Later, Mario takes Emmanuelle to a makeshift boxing ring, where he talks two young men into fighting each other for the right to have sex with her. At Mario's insistence, Emmanuelle chooses one of the men as her favorite, then watches as they fight. Her chosen champion prevails, and she is so aroused by his willingness to fight for her that she licks the blood from a wound on his forehead and then allows him to take her from behind. She soon climaxes and drops to the floor with exhaustion.
Sometime later, Emmanuelle is awakened by Mario, who takes her into another room. She is told to undress, so that she can change into a dress with a zipper down the back, allowing Mario to strip her naked in an instant. This, she understands, is in preparation for her next sexual encounter. Emmanuelle protests that she is tired, and asks Mario if he himself will ever have sex with her, to which Mario replies that he is waiting for the "next Emmanuelle" (presumably meaning that he will not have sex with her until he's decided that her training is complete.) As the movie ends, Emmanuelle sits at a mirror and begins applying makeup, hoping that by following Mario's instructions, she will reach the higher levels of pleasure that he has promised.
- Sylvia Kristel as Emmanuelle
- Daniel Sarky as Jean
- Alain Cuny as Mario
- Marika Green as Bee
- Jeanne Colletin as Ariane
- Christine Boisson as Marie-Ange
The movie was one of Kristel's first film roles.
See also 
- Andrews, p.4
- "Box office / business for Emmanuelle (1974)". IMDb.
- Joshua S. Mostow, Norman Bryson, Maribeth Graybill (2003). Gender and power in the Japanese visual field. University of Hawaii Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-8248-2572-1.
- Mick Brown "Sylvia Kristel interview", Daily Telegraph, 18 October 2012 [interview conducted in 2007]
- Andrews, p.26
- Andrews, p.262
- Andrews, p.42
- Andrews, p.43
- "Interview with Robert Fripp in Live! Music Review". ETWiki.
- "Emmanuelle (1974)". JPBox-Office.
- Andrews, David (2006). Soft in the middle: the contemporary softcore feature in its contexts. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 0-8142-1022-8.