Emmanuelle (1974)

Emmanuelle (1974)

“You must take a lover if you want to become a real woman.”

The young wife (Sylvia Kristel) of a diplomat (Daniel Sarky) in Bangkok is encouraged by him to gain sexual experience, and ends up involved with an archaeologist (Marika Green), her tennis partner (Jeanne Colletin), and an older “mentor” (Alain Cuny).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Adult Films
  • French Films
  • Sexual Liberation

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary posits that this “notorious X-rated, soft-core French film set in Thailand” likely has a “cult composed of men who use The Sensuous Woman as a reference book” — and that “women probably have a hard time taking it seriously because it’s the visualization of male fantasies: that a beautiful woman tries to please a man… who tells her to be free yet insists on having ultimate power over her.” Peary acknowledges that the “film is sensuously photographed,” and goes on to explain how and why he personally finds Kristel “a real turn-on”, including specific scenes that are “exciting” and others in which she’s “debased in our eyes and loses the appeal that went hand in hand with her naturalness and freedom.” I supposed it’s not too astonishing that this was “at one point France’s top-grossing picture” — and that it’s “spawned many sequels and numerous copies” — but all-purpose film fanatics really don’t need to seek it out at this point, given that it’s terribly written and provides nothing at all of narrative value. Peary discusses the film at greater length in his first Cult Movies book, where he points out that “mention should be made of the interesting, beautifully shot scenes of Bangkok,” which unfortunately are not only “wasted in such a film” but clearly exoticize Thailanders for the purposes of white patrons.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some beautiful footage in Thailand

  • Fine cinematography and sets

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re curious, given its historical popularity.


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