The sexual revolution in the 1960s and 70s was responsible for certain porn movies reaching a main stream audience and making millions of dollars. Two movies in particular were the faces of this short lived main stream success: the hardcore Deep Throat and the soft core Emmanuelle. Both feature promiscuous women exploring their sexuality in a movie with a minimum of script and a lot of pubic hair. The only difference between the two is that Deep Throat has penises.
These movies have reputations and their titles are well known with a wide audience, yet most people haven’t seen either of these movies. Most people that actually saw them were born in the 70s or earlier. Due to its softcore content Emmanuelle did actually air on TV here in the 90s as were a lot of other softcore movies at the time, most of them being French or German.
Emmanuelle features Silvia Kristel in the title role as the wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok. They both are very open in their extramarital affairs and when she comes to Bangkok she is intrigued by other women leading to some lesbian affairs, before getting a sexual coach in the much older Mario who eventually even lets her be the price in a kickboxing tournament.
This being a softcore movie the scripts sets up lots of scenes full of sexual tension, yet never actually delivers. Emmanuelle walks around in loose robes, swims naked in a pool, rarely wears a bra and has casual sex with strangers, but though she shows off her (naked) body basically in every scene there isn’t much graphical sex in the movie, if there is sex at all. There are three scenes in the movie actually where Emmanuelle has sex with men, in all cases most body parts are obscured or off screen. It leaves a lot to the imagination of the viewers, a bit too much and somehow I’m not totally convinced when men don’t even bother to pull their pants down when they’re going to penetrate a woman. One of the more weirder scenes is when Emmanuelle is asked by the other wives of the diplomats if she ever cheated on her husband while in France. She responds with no but a flashback reveals she belongs to the mile high club as she has sex with two different men in a plane, one on the toilet but the other right in her seat without any of the other passengers actually really noticing.
Emmanuelle is one of those movies in which the motivations of the characters are a complete mystery to the viewer. A teenage girl comes over at Emmanuelle and without any reason takes her shirt off and starts masturbating to a picture of Paul Newman in front of her. These people live in a fantasy world where the sexual moral is basically no-existent. Everybody wants Emmanuelle, and everybody gets Emmanuelle.
Watching Emmanuelle I found it to be a somewhat boring and unrealistic. You can make a soft porno without creating a sexual fantasy world. The women look good, the breasts are deliciously real, though the hairy nether regions of the women might turn younger viewers who grew up on shaven vaginas off.
In the end Emmanuelle is all foreplay and no climax.