Emmanuelle (1974) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

 Scoop's notes:

As you probably know, the film consists of soft core erotica, loosely based on the diaries of Emmanelle Arsan, allegedly the bored non-working wife of a diplomat who was assigned to Thailand, got laid, and wrote about it. (The diaries were actually written by the husband. Story here.) It was the mother of a series, or more appropriately "several series," of Emmanuelle films, all of which used a basic formula consisting of beautiful exotic locations and sex scenes.

Some of the later films, Emmanuelle 2 for example, represent reasonably titillating erotica. The original does not.

So many problems:

1. In the English dubbed version, the acting is only slightly worse than the acting in the Scooby-Doo cartoons. It is actually good for a lot of laughs.

2. I can't decide if the author is retarded or just insane. One thing is clear. He must have been institutionalized all of his life before writing this script, and never met any women. He just heard about them and imagined what they would be like. He has no idea how women talk to each other, and his conception of a woman's libido is a simplistic male masturbatory fantasy. It goes like this: only by getting sodomized by every member of the Taliban and forcibly raped by some Stone Age tribesmen can Emmanuelle truly learn the meaning of love. And ol' Emmanuelle is just soaking up all this wisdom. She's even taking notes during all this pseudo-intellectual sexual liberation cant. Of course, the point of this was that men took their wives and girlfriends to the film hoping that they would fall for the pitch that happiness comes from yielding to any experience and becoming increasingly bolder in the sack.

This IMDb comment sums up how intelligent modern women really perceive the film:

"I can't imagine anyone finding this film erotic. The two rape scenes are heinous. And the idea that Emmanuelle's husband entrusts her to some self-centered, egotistical idiot spouting pseudo-philosophical BS about love and such, only to have her humiliated by being sexually taken by the winner of a boxing match in front of others is absolutely disgusting. I couldn't feel empathy for any of the characters in this sleazy film. The husband is an absolute fool. Mario, the old man to whom Emmanuelle is entrusted, is disgusting. Emmanuelle herself is far too confused to know what she wants and so is at the whim of everyone around her. She doesn't become "a woman" by film's end, as she declares, but a soulless sex machine who engages in sex purely to satisfy animalistic passions. Nothing loving, sensual, or enticing about this film. If couples watched this today, I could imagine the women beating the crap out of their male partners if they imagined they got off to the rape, abuse, powerlessness, and humiliation of women."

3. There essentially is no story, given that everything in the film is just a setup for the next sex scene.

4. The dialogue consists largely of extremely dull, pretentious, pseudo-enlightened blather about free love.

5. The video transfer on this DVD may be the worst in the history of DVD's. In fact, it may be the worst in the history of images. There are cave drawings of bison which are in far better focus than this film. Most scenes are uncontrasted, blurry, color-faded, green, and dark. 


Sylvia Kristel showed everything.

There was also topless nudity and brief frontal flashes from Christine Boisson, Marika Green, and Jeanne Colletin

There was some explicit nudity from some extras playing strippers.  (A woman smoking a cigarette with her naughty bits, for example) 

See Tuna's comments for additional details.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterbox 1.66:1

  • terrible image quality

  • no meaningful features

The film has some historical significance as one of the first sex films to play in the occasional suburban theater. There is some beautiful cinematography, although it appears to have been shot on cheap film stock. If there were a DVD mastered from a pristine negative, this would be a visually superlative film for its genre. The women are photographed with soft elegance, and the landscapes are composed beautifully. It may include the best photographic composition in the history of porno flicks. Unfortunately, all of that is purely hypothetical, because the DVD print looks like it has been rinsed in something the color of green baby poop.

Bottom line, you really don't want to see this film unless you saw it back in the seventies and are nostalgic for the era. There was a time when this babbling about sexual liberation seemed profound and original, and the prevailing attitude of the time could overlook a casual attitude toward rape.

Some of the older guys may remember it fondly, but you won't get anything out of it unless you can remember the context in which it first appeared.


Emmanuelle (1974) is based on a very popular erotic book by Emmanuelle Arsan titled Emmanuelle, the Joys of a Woman, which is said to be roughly autobiographical. Producer Richard Suzuki decided the time was ripe for an erotic movie, and hard core (Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door, The Devil in Miss Jones) was very popular, but not really fare for mainstream suburban couples. He visited the book publisher to inquire about screen rights, and was told that someone held them, but when the secretary checked, she discovered that the rights had expired two weeks before and not been renewed. He secured the rights on the spot, and approached advertising director Just Jaeckin to direct the project. Casting was a major problem, as French actresses thought erotic content was beneath them, then ran into Sylvia Kristel during a casting session, and immediately signed her to a three picture deal. He said that he was sure she would be famous, and so signed her for three films.

The picture was shot in Thailand, which was not a huge tourist destination at the time. The did it with permission of a royal prince, third in command in the country, but managed to get themselves arrested once when shooting at a public waterfall. A crowd gathered, and, when asked to leave, complained to the police. The rest of the film was shot on the Prince's private property. Kristel was raised in an orthodox household. When she approached her mother about the project, her mother said to make it if it was good for her career, but don't ask her to see it. In the first sex scene in the film, Kristel and her husband are having sex under a mosquito net, while the houseboy and a maid watch. Star Daniel Sarky's wife was visiting the set for that scene, and he was so nervous performing simulated sex in front of her that his sweat kept melting his make-up, so it took forever to film.

When the film was finished, Suzuki was determined that it would open in a mainstream theater, and it was, in fact, the first X rated film released by Paramount. They had no idea how much of a success they had on their hands, and had to expand it to several screens immediately to accommodate the crowds. The film opened on a Friday, and they didn't have enough prints to supply all of the theaters, and no way to make more over the weekend, so they used staggered start times and a team of messengers on motorbikes to ferry each reel to the next theater as soon as it finished in the first one.

The film has been available for some time on home video in a US dub with very poor quality, first on VHS and then DVD. There was also a cut version with some of the nudity removed. Originally rated X, they were able to resubmit the dubbed English version, and got an R on it. The content between the original English R and the French X was identical, other than the cropping. Anchor Bay is releasing a deluxe remastered set of the three authentic Emmanuelle films, with a choice of language and subtitles, interviews, a history of the entire series, and more. While this film was a little grainy, and overexposed in some parts, it was a far better transfer to DVD than previous efforts, and is in the original French theatrical ratio.

This film is meant as erotica, and is one of the more erotic and exotic films I have seen. There is really no plot, but it supposedly relates Emmanuelle's metamorphosis from a virginal bride to a wanton women, encouraged by her husband, who works in the French embassy, and preaches open marriage. Along the way, she has sex on the airplane between Paris and Bangkok, befriends a precocious adolescent named Marie-Ange (Christine Boisson), falls in love with a female archeologist (Marika Green), has an affair with another embassy widow (Jeanne Colletin), and then finally becomes a wanton with the help of a horny old man. Damn, it took two sentences to give the detailed plot.

One of the maids shows breasts being raped by the houseboy, two strippers do a girl/girl, in which they show everything, and another stripper smokes a cigarette with her other lips.  Kristel, Boisson, Green and Colletin all show everything. The scenery is spectacular, there is a lot of nudity, and some of the sex scenes, while rather tame, are still very hot. Feminists in France were up in arms, calling this yet another exploitation of women, while feminists in Japan had exactly the opposite viewpoint. In the first sex scene, which I mentioned last night, Emmanuelle rolls her husband over and gets on top. At this point in the film, Japanese women in the audience would stand up and cheer. 

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.6. That is pretty generous. I suppose people are allowing it some latitude because of its historical value.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says. "This film is an F measured by the version on the earlier DVD, for any genre, even including "titty film". The poor transfer, the minimal nudity, the bad dialogue, and the hilarious acting are a deadly combination. Given a new transfer and properly translated sub-titles, (which I haven't seen myself), it would be about the same as Emmanuelle 2 - a C, an acceptable, dated soft-core, better than average in some ways, but worse than average in many other ways.

Tuna says, "Some argue that it might have been hot for its time, but is tame by today's standards. For me, it is just as erotic and exotic as it was the first time I saw it, and the optionally subtitled new transfer makes it true eye candy. As erotica, this is a C+, certainly not for plot, but for nudity and locations."

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