Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman (1975)

Character Name: Emmanuelle
Actress: Sylvia Kristel
Actual Movie Title: "Emmanuelle L'Antivierge"
Known Aliases: "Emmanuelle II," "Emmanuelle 2," "Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman," "Emmanuelle: The Anti-Virgin"
Country of Origin: France
Character Nationality: French
Character Age: Early-Mid 20's
Occupation: Housewife
Married: Jean
Locales: Hong Kong
Release Date: December 15, 1975 (USA)
Director: Francis Giacobetti
DVD: Emmanuelle 2 - The Joys of A Woman, The Emmanuelle Collection
Stats: Third official Emmanuelle film.

Story: Before I even get started, an explanation is in order-- the original manuscript for the novel "Emmanuelle" was halved for publication and released a decade apart. The second film adaptation of "Emmanuelle;" the most successful, and the only remotely faithful one; combined the two novel releases to tell a complete story, such as it was. The "Anti-Virgin" and a few carryover names were about all there was to be found in common between the second book and film.

Also worth noting in advance is that while only one year had passed between releases, a more significant period of time has lapsed for the characters. The awkward, almost tomboyish young Emmanuelle has given way to a more sophisticated and glamorous model, though still portrayed by the same actress.

Emmanuelle seems to have settled into her role as an aristocrat, which doesn't quite make sense, as her husband is now inexplicably an engineer. Booked first class on a ship, Emmanuelle's attitude was imperious as she protested her ending up in an all-female dormitory bunk. A fair-haired girl with glasses complained of the same incompetent treatment, though blame was spread between the ship's crew and the travel agency. Emmanuelle paid a visit to the overly forward radio operator Igor (Henry Czarniak,) who was asked to send a telegraph to her husband. Igor went for an unbidden kiss, and was slapped in response. Clearly, this is a more assertive Emmanuelle, at least.

That night, the sultry dormitory yields gratuitous nudity (largely posterior) as the girls sweat in their slumber. The fair-haired girl couldn't sleep, and was in an anxious state as she sat on her cot in her underwear and smoked. Emmanuelle asked what was the matter, and after pressing, she confided that the all-girl situation scared her. At sixteen, and still a virgin, she had been raped by three fellow schoolgirls while at boarding school in Macao. The Filipinos took her in the library, and gave their victim her first orgasm. "It was a big scandal in school. Later, when girls came to my bed, I enjoyed it. Do you understand?" Emmanuelle was silent but incredulous, smiling and taking small delight in the tale. Before long, Emmanuelle had her hand between the girl's legs as the two made out. Between this encounter and the flashback, the only nudity was a brief shot of a body double. The sequence was effective thanks to voice over narration, though a bit confusing, as the lighting was inconsistent during the obscured present-day encounter.

Emmanuelle disembarks in Hong Kong, where her lavish home has done without her for sixty-three days spent in Bangkok. So too has "Mr. Jean," who Emmanuelle's servant Chang informers her is on the veranda. The lovely Huang (Claire Richard) was hunched over Jean (Umberto Orsini,) giving him a shave in a tight white dress, when Emmanuelle approached. A towel covering Jean's eyes, Emmanuelle was able to trade places with Huang, then began massaging his chest. Huang seemed to squint in slight annoyance as she watched Emmanuelle work her way lower, and more significantly, affect a mildly offensive Asian accent. Jean finally gives up the ruse with, "It's very pleasant, Mrs. Jean." Emmanuelle complimented her husband's moustache, as she should, since she pushed him to grow it. While Emmanuelle went up to the bedroom, Jean had Huang finish his shave before joining her.

Along her way up, Emmanuelle noticed an airplane propeller lying on a guest bed, and investigating, found a man in the bath. She unplugged the fan he had set near the tub. "I like to bathe dangerously." Jean joined them in introductions, for which the English-American pilot Christopher (Frédéric Lagache) had the courtesy to stand, modesty be damned. As the couple moved on to their own bedroom, Jean explained that Christopher was a pilot and art smuggler friend, staying only a few days. Emmanuelle abruptly turned and demanded, "Fuck me." Jean was unable to oblige, as he had an appointment with Mr. Piang he could not cancel. Emmanuelle joined Jean on the lunch date, regarding a front page newspaper article about his engineering work in Hong Kong. After Mr. Piang left, Emmanuelle smoked a cigar and related the story of the French girl she had slept with on the boat, whose "boring as hell" story Emmanuelle believed was only a ploy to wind her up. The account was interrupted by a visit from Laura (Florence Lafuma,) whom Jean had been sleeping with while Emmanuelle was away. Laura invited the couple to dinner with her husband Peter, and the two women throw a few barbs. Emmanuelle pressed Jean for further details after Laura left, ribbing him about their having frolicked in the ocean.

Returning home, Emmanuelle strips down to only leggings. She then engages in auto-eroticism while sidesaddle in a stiff-back chair. Jean kneels to kiss her hand. Emmanuelle mounts him on the floor, until he sits up to meet her. Jean next takes her from behind, as she rests her head on the chair for precarious support, intermittently sucking and biting her thumb. After, they share a smoke, and tell one another, "I love you."

Next morning, Huang brought Jean breakfast at his drafting table. Huang tapped Jean in a familiar way on the shoulder, ordering "You must eat everything. Madame said you lost weight." Madame was in fact working out a few feet away, and enlightened, "The special menu for overworked frogmen... Don't think that I'm jealous, but it does seem that your mermaid has the exclusivity of the rapture of the deep. With me, it's rather the tub and the shower." Jean reminded Emmanuelle his "siren" had invited them to Peter's get-together that night. Emmanuelle would rather stay home, but Jean informed Peter was with UNESCO, in charge of musical research in the Far East. It should be noted that Emmanuelle's author was a member of UNESCO, and most likely Jean in the first movie as well.

Emmanuelle was off to buy a new dress for the party, and took Christopher along for company. Emmanuelle brought up Christopher's preference for Asian women, particularly time spent with them nightly at the sleazy "Jade Garden." Christopher was displeased by his best friend's loose lips, but Emmanuelle explained she had no secrets from Jean, even second hand ones. Emmanuelle began to flirt with Christopher, as the pair entered a curio shop. An old Asian woman sold Emmanuelle on a "good magic" potion to enhance her sensuality, then invited her to visit the accupuncturist upstairs. Emmanuelle confessed first that she was frightened, and then that she loved to be so. After the procedure had begun, Emmanuelle started fondling herself in front of Christopher, while imagining a sexual encounter with him. Between the Asians, the synth music, the limber acrobatics, the cool blue backdrop and the long needle between Emmanuelle's teeth, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an excised scene from "Blade Runner."

Cut to a fan dance performed by the Doan Gong Chanh Ballet at Peter and Laura's soiree. Laura fished for compliments, which begged for more teasing from Emmanuelle, though Laura took it less well than Jean. Laura in fact took Jean to task for those aforementioned loose lips. An important difference between the translations is found here, as when Laura asks Jean if Emmanuelle is jealous, Jean responds, "That's not her style" in English. The original French was simply, "She's smart." Despite her seeming aplomb, Emmanuelle's frequent return to the subject of the oceanic affair makes her seem threatened by Laura, and her interest in Laura's daughter Anna-Maria (Catherine Rivet) might just bear out as an alternative retribution.

Peter and Emmanuelle have a chat, in which he mentions that his daughter had been meant to join the dancers, but "as usual, she let me down... Yes, that's the little idiot over there." Emmanuelle seems to take a dislike to Peter's tone, excusing herself to talk with Anna-Maria, who looks a bit like a young Charlize Theron. Anna-Maria explains that while her father was furious, she refused to make a spectacle of herself for tourists. She notes the mistakes the other dancers had made, imperceptible to the unstudied eye, and invits Emmanuelle to watch her perform at her studio.

Another day, and Christopher is being questioned by police out on the lawn. Jean returns home, and tells Christopher the police had also been by his office, asking about him. Grounded by the investigation, Jean feigns a lack of concern about Christopher needing to stay a few extra days. Christopher presses further, asking how Jean felt about his wife's erotic acupuncture treatments and general screwing around. Jean exlains that no one "screwed" Emmanuelle-- she "chooses." Christopher whistles and calls Jean's words empty. Jean finally removes all doubt about whether he was the same character from the first film by espousing his philosophy about freedoms and rights regading his open relationship with Emmanuelle.

Emmanuelle visits Anna-Maria at her dance studio, though her instructor Naim insists that Emmanuelle has to wait in his study until after class. Emmanuelle found an animated nickleodeon, which depicts a ballerina having her clothes ripped off by a fetish queen. The black instructor enters the study, and Emmanuelle gives him silent approval as he lifts her dress and fondles her. The cartoon progresses to oral, until the ballerina is taken at both ends by the fetish queen's strap-on and a male member (unclear as to whether he too was black, or covered in leather. The member was rather pale, you see.) Really nice musical accompaniment, a hallmark of the Emmanuelle films.

Anna-Maria was left to wait patiently after class, indulging only in a panty shot. Emmanuelle talks with Anna-Maria for a while, learning she's the only girl in class not in love with Naim, and that she has a boyfriend named Sam. The girls have tea on a yacht where a male body-building tournament is taking place. The well-oiled Asian boys flex while the girls chat in a sparsely filled dining hall. Contradicting what she told Marie-Ange in the first film, Emmanuelle claims she lost her virginity to a clumsy but sweet boy. She lied to him in an effort to make him feel better about his performance, and only did it to relieve herself of virginity. It was six months later before she tried again, with another, who made her come for the first time. The girls left the yacht, and Emmanuelle invites Anna-Maria to the house, but she is tired. On the boat trip back to shore, Emmanuelle learns Anna-Maria had only gone so far as kissing. Emmanuelle doesn't buy it, and works the truth out of the girl that Sam was imaginary, an ideal boy to masterbate to.

Emmanuelle and Anna-Maria attend a polo match Jean was playing in, where Emmanuelle took a phone call for her indisposed husband in the locker room. A jockey (Venantino Venantini) who had been injured enters and begins to strip obliviously. From an obscuring corner, Emmanuelle takes in the jockey's tattoos, which cover much of his body. She approaches the polo player, who was at first stunned to see her while tending his injury. As she began to caress and lick his illustrated form, the player turns forceful. The player tugs at Emmanuelle's head by the hair, grinding his bearded lips against hers. Laid across a bench, the player's forearm pistons under Emmanuelle's dress. Emmanuelle pulls at the straps across her breasts, exposing them to the player's mouth. The jocky starts to ride Emmanuelle, accompanied only by her sighs and the sounds of the polo match outside. Emmanuelle bunches his flesh in her fist, causing the geisha on his back to writhe.

Jean finds Anna-Maria, who confirms Laura is also present. Anna-Maria asks if Jean loves Laura, which he denies. Anna-Maria explains that she likes Emmanuelle, "But there's a side to her and to you which I can't accept. You're playing with love." Jean explains that sleeping around was not so dangerous as falling in love. Besides, Jean and Emmanuelle like risks, which might have compelled Jean to launch into another free-love lecture and naked attempt to seduce the daughter of his lover. Emmanuelle interrupts, whispering details of her latest conquest in Jean's ear.

Back home, Christopher is concerned about an incoming typhoon grounding him further, as he's hot to make a trip to Australia. The house is sweltering as Christopher heads for the hanger. Jean, Emmanuelle, and Anna-Maria are lethargic on the couch, when Emmanuelle cons the girl into go with them to the bath house. This leads to the most infamous sequence in the film, as Anna-Maria is asked to choose her favorite of three gorgeous Asian masseuse: a long, lean girl with flowing raven hair, and delicate fingers. This masseuse was played by one Laura Gemser.

Because of the longer lead time on this higher quality production, "Emmanuelle 2" was released after Gemser had already filmed and released the first installment of the most famous Emmanuelle knock-off series, "Emanuelle Nera," a.k.a. "Black Emanuelle."

The titular Emmanuelle looked up at her husband and growled, "As a matter of fact, she's the one I would have chosen." The actresses Gemser, Eva Hamel, and Christiane Gibeline lay the three customers on individual tables, running their nude bodies against their backs. Soap is applied liberally and massages administered. Positions and degrees of friction varied. Anna-Maria enjoys her time, and is glad both Jean and Emmanuelle were present.

Later, Jean has to insure the drilling station is secure in the face of the incoming storm, leaving Emmanuelle to her own devices. She decides play dress-up as an Asian with the help of Huang, making sure to be culturally insensitive by making with Chi-a-nese-if-you-please eyes and voice at her. Emmanuelle receives a call for Christopher, urging him to contact Mr. Ming. Emmanuelle asks Huang where he might be, and Huang suggests the Jade Garden. Emmanuelle tries to send Huang there, but the servant is afraid to go to a house of such ill repute. Emmanuelle is far from averse to such affairs, and makes the trip herself.

Emmanuelle is refused entry unescorted, so she joins a party of American sailors to gain access to the Jade Garden. Despite the name, crimson is the color of choice inside, as Asian prostitutes and johns cover a massive floor level saloon. Dancing, heavy petting, fornication-- all fair game. Emmanuelle makes her ay upstairs, where an overview shows a variety of debauched activity partitioned by wardrobe screens for those wishing for greater privacy. Unable to locate Christopher amongst the mass of writhing bodies, Emmanuelle starts calling his name. Christopher, annoyed, answers immediately. He could care less about Ming, and is more concerned with giving the tarted-up Emmanuelle the bum's rush. Emmanuelle accuses, "Is it this virility circus that has this effect on you? Is it forbidden to be excited? Is that reserved for men, or what?" Christopher returns fore with, "The ladies are paid to give orgasms, not to get excited themselves." Emmanuelle is rightly disgusted. "Poor jerk! The ladies! For you, women are screwing machines. You think you have contempt for them but, in fact, you're scared." A random john moves in to try to pay for Emmanuelle's services with casino chips, the coin of choice here. Irritated in more ways than one, Emmanuelle chooses to stay at the Jade Garden, but refuses Christopher's limp interest. "Too late, Christopher. I wanted you very much. I make love with whom I want and when I want. Goodbye."

Christopher bows out, returning to Jean and Emmanuelle's home in preparation for his departure from Hong Kong the next morning. There he finds Anna-Maria smoking on their couch, and announces, "Well, if it isn't the beautiful immaculate virgin." Anna-Maria couldn't handle her father anymore, and had come to stay with her friends. Christopher made additional snide comments about Jean and Emmanuelle, as well as confessing he would have liked the chance to give Anna-Maria a tumble. On learning Anna-Maria is still afraid to be with a man, Christopher shows rare signs of decency, giving her a pep talk about frogs and princes before driving off.

Emmanuelle found Anna-Maria asleep on the couch the next morning, and tells her she was right to come there. Finding Anna-Maria miserable, Emmanuelle invites her along on vacation to Bali. With Jean away, Emmanuelle invites Anna-Maria to sleep in her bed, but she prefers to remain on the couch. Later that morning, Jean returns to catch Emmanuelle after her bath. Emmanuelle tells him of her adventure at the Jade Garden, where three men paid to have sex with her... en masse. Flashbacks trade places with Emmanuelle and Jean indulging in one another.

The movie drops anchor in Bali for an extended travellogue. Emmanuelle, Anna-Maria, and Jean take a ride with a truckload of singing grade schoolgirls in knee socks to some sort of ceremonial dance exhibition involving dozens of chanting topless men. It's over five minutes of "wha?"

Anna-Maria takes up with some blond guy named Michael brandishing a porno moustache,

Emmanuelle has some fun with Jean while he showers, having him explain how excited Anna-Maria makes him while she was, unbeknownst to him, in earshot. "Little bitches," he wryly says upon exiting and finding the pair were making sport of him. Anna-Maria kisses Jean, and the game is truly on. Emmanuelle and Jean trade meaningful glances while Anna-Maria is distracted. Emmanuelle takes her turn, French kissing the novice and pulling her down into bed. Emmanuelle's mouth then travels further south, while Jean's hand massages Anna-Maria perineum. Anna-Maria hovers over Emmanuelle as Jean removed the girl's bikini top. On all fours, Anna-Maria is mounted, while Emmanuelle continues to kiss her lips, breasts and body in general. Later, Anna-Maria on her back, Jean offers a loving hand and Emmanuelle a willing tongue. Anna-Maria is ecstatic, shaking her head in a callback to Bee from the first film. Jean kisses Anna-Maria upside down from the edge of the bed. He then props her legs against his shoulders, and plunges in. Emmanuelle assumes his role at the head, kissing Anna-Maria and Jean in turn. Emmanuelle looks up, heavenward, and then through the fourth wall, staring at the audience as the camera closes in on her eyes.

Notes: Text relates to the 83 minute U.S. cut of the picture, but represents both the French and English language translations.

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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