Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Emmanuelle (1974)

Character Name: Emmanuelle
Actress: Sylvia Kristel
Actual Movie Title: Emmanuelle
Known Aliases: None beyond foreign reinterpretations.
Country of Origin: France
Character Nationality: French
Character Age: Late Teens-Early 20's
Occupation: Housewife
Married: Jean
Locales: Paris, Bangkok, Chiang Mai
Release Date: June 26, 1974 (France)
Director: Just Jaeckin
DVD: Emmanuelle (1974), The Emmanuelle Collection (Emmanuelle / Emmanuelle 2 / Good-bye Emmanuelle)
Stats: Second official Emmanuelle film.

Story: A pan over Paris rooftops as the world famous "Emmanuelle" theme begins. The titular character is lounging around her home in a sheer overcoat, red socks, and nothing else. Her friend Marie calls to offer a ride to the airport.

In Bangkok, Emmanuelle's husband Jean (Daniel Sarky) awaits her arrival, while enjoying a massage parlor with his friend Yves. Jean assumes Emmanuelle will entertain herself over the seventeen hour flight with spontaneous lovemaking. Yves wouldn't dare try to join the Mile High Club, nor pay for sex, but Jean suggests, "One must always dare." As for his wife, "I didn't marry her to deprive her of anything, nor put her in a cage... I married her because she is the only woman in the world who enjoys sex as much and who's so good at it! ...Jealousy is outdated." Jean leaves, but seems to negotiate with his message girl to help work out the uptight kinks in his friend.

Jean picks up Emmanuelle from the airport, and the pair drive through the city in his yellow sportscar. Jean mentions that despite the locale, he meets the same faces everywhere. "There are ex-adventurers, civil servants, diplomats-- they're all dying to meet you. Especially since they saw the pictures... I'm very proud of you." Jean was surprised Emmanuelle hadn't slept with the photographer during the erotic shoot, but she explains that he was gay. They drive down a narrow market road, completely immersed in pedestrians on the same route. Jean leaves Emmanuelle in the car to conduct some business. She's swarmed by children trying to sell her their wares, and horrified to see a chicken's throat slit at a nearby booth. An old begger leans into the car, and Emmanuelle covers her eyes while ducking down. Jean is surprised to find her in such an anxious state, and the pair depart. Jean had purchased a new bracelet for his love.

The couple arrive at their estate, rented from a princess, where they are greeted by their Asian staff. Later, they adjourn to the bedroom, where they make love in a canopy bed. Jon the houseboy/handyman spies on this act, then motions for Ting, the lovely cook, to join him. Jon tries to take Ting right there, but she runs from him. The pursuit is half playful, half menacing, until Ting submits in a garden shack.

Later, Emmanuelle indulges in sunbathing and girl-talk by the pool with the many bored, rich, promiscuous European housewives. Chief among them is the mature Ariane (Jeanne Colletin,) who's particularly opinionated. Ariane seems to have kept Jean company previously, to Emmanuelle's mild dismay. Emmanuelle says she did not cheat on Jean while she was alone in Paris, prompting laughter from the diplomats' wives at her naïveté, or her presumption of theirs. Emmanuelle leaves for a more peaceful area of the garden, but is followed by Ariane, who has a habit of intimidating people. Ariane doesn't believe Emmanuelle has never cheated, so Emmanuelle clarifies that cheating would require lying about her extracurricular activities. Emmanuelle asks about Bee (Marika Green,) another outsider who chooses to stay away from the other girls. Ariane tries to seduce Emmanuelle, but Emmanuelle brushes her off to go for a nude swim. Tender Marie-Ange (Christine Boisson) eventually follows suit, and asks to visit Emmanuelle at her home the next day.

Marie-Ange is greeted by Jean on her arrival, who allows her into Emmanuelle's bedroom before leaving himself. Marie-Ange wakes Emmanuelle by brushing her exposed chest. The two talk about Marie-Ange's nymphette inclinations (she loves turning on older men by always sucking lollipops,) those erotic pictures Jean had a friend take (no "good ones," as Marie-Ange hoped, to Emmanuelle's disgust) and why Jean at 32 is no "old guy." As the pair sit outside in swinging wicker chairs, Marie-Ange thumbs through a French newspaper, and asks for a photo of Jean for later. Marie-Ange then begins to masturbate to a picture of Paul Newman, Emmanuelle shocked as she watches the girl rub to completion. Emmanuelle is surprised someone so young is so uninhibited, and fends off Marie-Ange's attempt to go further with her.

Emmanuelle confides that she was a virgin when she met Jean at a dinner party her parents hosted. Jean came to her when she was in "a lonely place," asking her questions about herself. The next day, he took her out for a drive, and deflowered her right there in the car, where they had parked in the forest of Fontainebleau. They married, and Emmanuelle found it strange to make love at night. A month later, Jean was gone, though he gave her permission to do as she pleased, which only frightened her. Emmanuelle never was unfaithful in Paris, but did have a steamy encounter with a fellow passenger during the night flight to Bangkok. Emmanuelle began to play with herself as she related the tale to Marie-Ange, of how she lured a handsome man to her seat for a tryst. Yet another fellow looked on, and a while after the first pair finished, he carried Emmanuelle to the restroom for another encounter. As the tale ended, we see Emmanuelle and Marie-Ange, each asleep in their chairs, spent.

At dinner that night, Emmanuelle expresses her boredom with Bangkok to her husband. Jean suggests she take up a sport, sail the canals, visit pagodas, or take on another lover. Emmanuelle continues to resist taking on additional partners, but like Jean, she embraces the notion of developing a higher self through sexuality. Beyond improving technique, one should expand their spirit and capacity for love through open sensuality. "Pleasure can be an absolute." Emmanuelle expresses her conflict regarding Marie-Ange, taken aback by her youth and forwardness, but also admiring her superior sexual sophistication. "I probably need something to become a real woman. Your woman. Marie-Ange is innocent. I mean, she's not guilty. She's so pure. Compared to her, I feel very prejudiced... She's like a teacher." Emmanuelle goes down on Jean.

Emmanuelle plays squash with Ariane, who criticizes her technique, then shows her own by denuding and ravishing Emmanuelle right there on the court. Later, at a party, Ariane and her husband Gilbert joke with Emmanuelle about their open relationship. Emmanuelle is called away by Marie-Ange, but she is introduced to Yves by Jean en route. "I finally meet a virtuous man!" Marie-Ange steals her away to meet elder lothario Mario, just as he's being dismissed by a disinterested prospect. Marie-Ange "lends" Emmanuelle to him, though the borrowed party is immediately put off by Mario's frank speech. "She talked about you and your Lolita games. You should become an adult. Are you happy the way you are?"

Emmanuelle is returned to Marie-Ange, and is less interested in discussing the irritating Mario than meeting Bee, but Marie-Ange refuses to introduce them. Emmanuelle asks Ariane to do the honors. "This sinful woman... Oh no, I won't help you." Emmanuelle finally introduces herself, and is pleasantly surprised to learn Bee actually works for a living, as an archeologist. Bee is leaving Bangkok the next day, and working that afternoon. Emmanuelle gives Bee her bracelet, with the expectation that she will have to return it sometime tomorrow. Bee agrees to 2:00 p.m. in Khlong Wat Sai, along the canals.

The next day, on her way, Emmanuelle receives a note written by Mario making a date for nine that night. She meets Bee, who says she only bothered with the party because her naval officer boyfriend wanted to show off his new uniform. Emmanuelle had caught her eye, however. Bee was dismissive of embassy wives like Emmanuelle, just as concerned with the love lives of others as New Yorkers are about how much a person earns. Emmanuelle didn't care to feel judged, but was still intrigued by how different Bee was from her circle. "We all practice idleness as a fine art." Emmanuelle is often bored, but not in Bee's company, as she rips up Mario's note and tosses it aside. She's fostering a schoolgirl crush, and though Bee clearly doesn't respect her, she remains interested. Emmanuelle pressures Bee to keep her bracelet, though it's her favorite, but Bee refuses. Bee expects she'll have to play with her gorgeous doll later, but Emmanuelle decides she's going to be joining Bee on her trip. Emmanuelle is a free woman, after all.

Jean is uptight about Emmanuelle's not having returned home, while Ariane's husband Gilbert points out Jean was never so much concerned about her freedom as his own. Mario's sending a boy in to fetch Emmanuelle only agitates him further. Emmanuelle and Bee are, meanwhile, horseback riding out in the country. The pair find a waterfall, go skinny-dipping, and cuddle. Bee takes enjoyment in dressing Emmanuelle like a little boy, kissing her lovingly. They moon at one another on a dig. Jean goes to a strip club, and watches a clearly underage girl smoke a cigarette with her vagina. Jean also gets drunk and punched. The cigarette girl joins another girl for some go-go dancing and a bit more. I'm deeply concerned about this turn. Thankfully, consenting adults Emmanuelle and Bee soon engage in less alarming cunnilingus. Though Bee has an orgasm that leaves her shaking her head, when Emmanuelle drops the "L" word (the "love" one,) Bee makes it abundantly clear she's only in "like." Emmanuelle masks her tears in the rain.

Jean pays a drunken late night visit to Ariane, who's equally sauced and pissy. Her husband Gilbert is off with the consul's daughter Martine, and she is uncertain where Emmanuelle is. Ariane assumes she's with Bee, who'll be finished with her soon enough, though not in time for Jean to stop being a joke amongst their friends. Ariane teases Jean for his jealousy after his pretentious speeches, and suggests Emmanuelle be educated by someone more capable, like Mario. Ariane then lifts her dress, and accepts Jean's furious thrusts. Jean returns home to find Emmanuelle crying in a corner. "I don't want to play the adult anymore!" Jean consoles her, explaining that the kind of passionate love and humiliating dependency she felt for Bee was the worst thing for Emmanuelle. The best revenge can be found in the arms of others...

Emmanuelle attempts to return to her routine, joining Ariane for squash. Ariana tries to chastise Emmanuelle regarding her escapade, and claims Jean practically raped her while she was away. Emmanuelle asks for help, ostensibly with her bra, but from her voice much more. Ariana is all over Emmanuelle in the locker room, but is gently rebuked. Emmanuelle is clearly disinterested in Ariana's form, but perhaps not her icy manner. Ariane says, "You're going through life like a baby waiting for her first cold. You have to pay with your person if you don't want to become a statue. If you want to live and forget Bee, you must learn. Go see Mario... He knows erotic science." Emmanuelle remains disgusted by Mario, but Ariane explains that to maintain eroticism at his age is an artform worth her exploring.

Emmanuelle sees Mario as an vainglorious aging Don Juan that represents everything she hates. However, between Jean, Ariane and Marie-Ange, she's pressured to spend an evening abiding Mario's tutelage. Emmanuelle tells Jean as she's being dressed "I feel like you're sending me to the executioner." Emmanuelle learns Marie-Ange is off on holiday with her parents, while Jean is leaving that night for two days in Vientiane. "I leave you alone with Mario."

At dinner, Mario drinks a toast to the law of the future, involving a dark turn on the concept of "free love;" where "chastity is a lack of generosity," and that anyone forming boundaries around sexuality must see them broken. Mario elevates all pleasures, including eating, where Emmanuelle and Jean seem more concerned with frequent orgasms. Emmanuelle seems to warm to Mario, and the pair take a carriage ride together.

Emmanuelle is no longer afraid, which pleases Mario, as he sees fear as a form of "moral slavery." He believes taboos are created by those who fear thought, happiness, and life itself. Mario signals the carriage to halt, then calls over a random drunken pedestrian from out of the night to massage Emmanuelle's legs. She resists at first, but yields, allowing the sailor to remove her panties. Mario snatches the undergarments from the man's hands and shoos him away. Perhaps he was too pleasing to the eye, as Mario signalled the coach to continue. "You musn't give it all to one person. Mario tucked the panties into his breast pocket as Emmanuelle teased him about what part she should reserve for him.

Mario and Emmanuelle enter an opium den, which unnerves her greatly. Emmanuelle says she's not ready for this, and offers to bed Mario, but is refused. Mario says Emmanuelle's boundaries must be destroyed. Emmanuelle defines eroticism as "the cult of sensual pleasure." Mario disagrees, feeling it must go beyond the senses to move the soul. "It's the refusal of subterfuge... The effort to break with everyday life. It's the victory of dreams over nature... Destroy established values. Fill your head with sensations that no one can give you... My empty head has become so scared and greedy... Death is the only way out." Mario believes that sentimentality must be crushed, and eroticism defined outside of marriage and conception. Emmanuelle prefers to remain an animal, focused on pleasure. The pair smoke. Mario signals a fellow junkie, an Asian who rapes Emmanuelle while others pin her down. As she cries and grits her teeth, Mario puffs and watches leasurely.

The morning after, Emmanuelle and Mario take a boat ride, where she tells him about her heartbreak with Bee. Mario cast the affair as an illusion, something Emmanuelle made up in her idle time in this foreign land, a common problem throughout history. All seems to be forgiven between them. Mario claims "I'm a great and respectable collector. I collect situations." Emmanuelle asks for Mario to take her, be he wishes to guide her... to take such an ordinary thing and make it unforgettable.

Mario leads Emmanuelle to a hut, expounding on his philosophy. "Real love is always against nature. Love is erection, not orgasm. The couple should be outlawed, and a third person introduced by force." Inside, Emmanuelle finds a Thai boxing match set to begin. "This will be one of those frontiers I promised to take you across." Mario chooses the combatants. Emmanuelle favors the one with the long sideburns. The fight excites her, and Emmanuelle's man wins. She licks the sweat from his brow, but as she tries to recede back into the crowd, Mario takes hold of her. Emmanuelle was unaware she had been promised as the fighter's prize, but kneels at Mario's beckoning, and is sodomized while the audience watches. Emmanuelle enjoys herself this time, watching Mario as he stares down at her grimly from against a wall.

Mario remained in place as Emmanuelle slept on the floor. As she awoke, she confessed "I'm proud as the day my blood flowed. It was my twelfth birthday. I hate idiots and inhibited persons. All those laughing as if they were tickled. I'm a woman now." Mario hugged her, and took her with care elsewhere-- a densely decorated bedroom. "Daylight is not for us," Mario claimed in English as he pulled the drapes. "Let us borrow darkness, for the night is not over." The original French was more direct. "We're not done yet. You have to spend the night here." Emmanuelle is tired and wonders what more he could want of her-- surely not to make love? "I desire somebody else. Another Emmanuelle. The one I don't know yet. The one you don't even know yourself. You must reach the unknown and upset all the senses." Mario departs with words about moving "beyond the looking glass of reality," looking more like "The Tall Man" from "Phantasm" than a sensual mentor. Harrowing horror music upsets the softer sounds that preceeded and continue alongside it.

In Mario's absense, Emmanuelle rises, removes her dress as Mario asked, and sets the new one he left for her in a wicker chair. Emmanuelle rests her nude bottom on it, and teases her hair in the mirror. Snippets of Mario's philisophical musings ring in Emmanuelle's ears, and she recites his words as she "hears" them. Emmanuelle envisions a man zipping down the fly on her new dress, and joining him and Mario in a ménage à trois. The terrible droning pitch returns with the swell of music. Emmanuelle paints her face in a garish fashion, a boa drapped over her chest. The frame freezes, the Emmanuelle theme returns, and the screen goes black for the credit roll.

Notes: Text relates to the 95 minute U.S. cut of the picture, but represents both the French and English language translations.

The name "Emmanuelle" appears 102 times in my synopsis for the first movie. Being a long name, I began cutting and pasting it with each usage from the first paragraph onward. Shame I didn't catch that I had happened to mistype "Emmaeulle" that one time, and had to correct the error about 100 times thereafter.

Summation: Right off the bat, there is so much to say, and already well said at 1000 Misspent Hours, I'll direct you there. More from me next week.

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