The most successful erotic classic of the 20th century worldwide Detailed Synopsis
In Bangkok, Emmanuelle (Sylvia Kristel), the young wife of a French diplomat, enters the world of sensuality and sexual passion. Guided by the mature Mario (Alain Cuny), and with the complicity of her husband (Daniel Sarky), she discovers the delights of eroticism and lets herself slide into pleasure. Based on the controversial book by Emmanuelle Arsan, EMMANUELLE
remains a ground-breaking picture: the first openly erotic film meant for the general public. The movie's evocative cinematography which captures the beauty of Thailand and uses it very effectively to support other erotic images, helped this film cause something of a cinematic revolution.
Spawning a string of sequels and spinoffs, this frisky item brought erotica into the art house--and out of the porno palace. Jean (Daniel Sarky), who enjoys a healthy sex life with Emmanuelle (Dutch-born Sylvia Kristel speaking phonetically), tells a fellow diplomat, "I'm not jealous. Jealousy is outdated," but his wife feels otherwise when she finds out he's been seeing other women. On joining him in Bangkok, where Thai servants attend to their every need, she falls in with a group of French exiles, including the predatory Ariane and lollipop-sucking Marie-Ange, who share her exhibitionist tendencies and encourage her to make up for lost time, so she pursues the statuesque Bee (Marika Green), giving fashion photographer-turned-filmmaker Just Jaeckin (Story of O
) an excuse to film any number of naked lovelies. Afterward, Ariane refers her to an old windbag named Mario (8 1/2
's Alain Cuny) to "break down her barriers," a highfalutin way of saying that he likes to peep, pontificate, and put his pupils in jeopardy--this so-called poet is a real piece of work. Though Jaeckin's soft-focus artifact aims to portray a woman taking charge of her sexuality, his heroine's actions suggest otherwise: she has no skills beyond lovemaking and her intellectual capacity is that of a child. Nonetheless, Emmanuelle
has earned a place in history as Columbia's first X-rated feature and continues to exert a certain queasy allure. This classy-looking package includes dishy featurettes on the production and the US marketing campaign. --Kathleen C. Fennessy