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Emmanuelle

Year: 1974
Production Co: Trinacra Films
Director: Just Jaeckin
Writer: Jean-Louis Richard/Emmanuelle Arsan
Cast: Sylvia Kristel

You might not realise how trashy one of history's most celebrated erotic films is, but what else can you expect from a director called Just Jaeckin (maybe an in-joke about the intent of the movie)?

It's from the scandalous novel about the young bride of a diplomat in French IndoChina and her sexual awakening (a sure fire way to attract attention to your plot). Emmanuelle (Kristel, a minor star in its wake) is the virginal but curious young wife of Jean, a liberated man who can't really keep his hands off the servile young Vietnamese girls who surround their cushy life and who expects his wife to indulge in her own affairs with men and women alike in pursuit of her sexual 'education'.

It's a strong idea and the merit of the film (and book) is this; most of the filmed entertainment we get is from America, an essentially puritanical society who's filmmakers are ironically squeamish about portraying sex unless it's somehow connected with danger, deception or patriarchy.

The French seems to have a much more accepting culture of pleasure for its own sake, something the philosophy behind Emmanuelle champions. There are no guns, violence, arguments, antagonists or adventures beside the pursuit of sexual pleasure.

None of that philosophy stops the film being a badly edited, sloppily shot, C grade, extremely softcore film. The strength of the idea however, and presumably not the creative merit of this film, spawned a franchise for a rightsholder somewhere, making Emmanuelle the Superman of the genre.

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