In its day a shocking breakthrough, 'Emmanuelle' was one of the first soft porn movies to go legitimate and be treated to release in High Street cinemas. It aspired to an art house status, its soft focus photography giving it a dreamy, haunting feel. Sylvia Kristel is its eminently desirable star: she appears in her first scene clad in a simple silk wrap, a bored French housewife, young enough to have retained a firm body and a resolute innocence, yet sophisticated enough to model in the nude and carry herself with an elegance verging on criminality. Life - and morality - for her are as soft-focused as the photography.
Her husband, meanwhile, is extolling her virtues as a lover to his best friend, explaining she was a virgin when he met her ... but look what she's learned since. His work takes him to Thailand, Emmanuelle follows. There, life is cheap, sex is free, and Emmanuelle soon meets up with a coterie of equally bored, equally desirable women who introduce her to a broad menu of sex, from masturbating in a hanging chair to being corrupted by an ancient lothario.
"Emmanuelle" has all the classic elements of erotica - voyeurism, sex with a stranger, sex on a plane, women on women, use of force, the notion of sexual innocence being liberated, the predatory older woman, the predatory older man.
There is a lot of nudity ... but tastefully done. The sex is soft-porn - it is very erotic, very amusing, very soft-focus, at times quite beautifully done ... despite the dated feel of the soundtrack. "Emmanuelle" presents sex as poetry, as adventure. It embodies a libertarian philosophy - only love can heal the world ... so let's have sex. It offers a valuable health lesson - a truly healthy human being is one enjoying frequent orgasms!
A film to be enjoyed on your own ... or with a partner ... or two. And nobody, but nobody, ever looked better in a baseball cap than Sylvia Kristel.