Anchor Bay gives Just Jaeckin's legendary 1974 erotic drama Emmanuelle
an appropriately sumptuous DVD presentation, featuring uncut prints of the original and its two official sequels, 1975's Emmanuelle 2
and 1977's Goodbye Emmanuelle
, in a three-disc set. All three films, which star Sylvia Kristel in the title role, are handsomely mounted adults-only fare, and their lush photography, exotic locations, and arousing (but not explicit) bedroom couplings not only helped to change softcore features, but also offered an alternative to XXX for mainstream audiences.
Based on a memoir by the wife of a delegate to Thailand, Emmanuelle focuses on the sexual awakening of a naive French diplomat's spouse at the hands of an experienced older man (Alain Cuny). First-time director Jaeckin and producer Yves Rousset-Rouard eschewed going the pornographic route with the story, and instead concentrated on the natural beauty of the Thailand setting and their star, 20-year-old Dutch model Kristel. The film was a runaway success in Europe and America, where it was successfully promoted as an erotic film devoid of porn's misogynistic tendencies. In addition to its box-office impact, Emmanuelle encouraged other softcore filmmakers to showcase travelogue-style locations and less sniggering storylines.
Emmanuelle's success naturally precipitated sequels, and two more adventures followed: Emmanuelle 2 (subtitled The Joys of a Woman in the States), which moved the action to Hong Kong; and Goodbye Emmanuelle, which sent the libertine to the Seychelles in search of a meaningful relationship. Respective directors Francis Giacobetti and Francois Leterrier's efforts were appropriately spicy, but Rousset-Rouard wisely decided to quit while he was ahead after the third picture. The series' worldwide appeal prompted a string of cheap and strange ripoffs, many featuring Indonesian actress Laura Gemser, who appears in Emmanuelle 2. But for cult movie fans, Anchor Bay's set offers the real Emmanuelle in all of her undraped glory. --Paul Gaita
Anchor Bay's Emmanuelle Collection
comes in an appropriately sleek and undeniably sexy package, with a slipcover sleeve that reveals a reworked reproduction of Paramount's American one-sheet poster. Inside, the three discs open into a three-paneled gatefold, with tinted photos of Kristel on display and an informative liner note booklet. The discs themselves offer widescreen versions of each feature, as well as English and French language options and English subtitles. U.S. and international trailers as well as several radio spots are also included with each title, as is an impressive collection of posters, lobby cards and stills, and a well-written bio on Kristel. The extras are rounded out by a 36-minute, three-part featurette titled "The Joys of Emmanuelle," which offers comments by Jaeckin, Kristel, and Rousset-Rouard on the making of the films, their impact on their lives, and the legal and ratings struggles they faced in Europe. --Paul Gaita