Emmanuelle is a 1974 French softcore film directed by Just Jaeckin. Sylvia Kristel stars in the title role about a woman who takes a trip to Bangkok to enhance her sexual experience. The film was former photographer Just Jaeckin’s debut feature film and was shot on location in Thailand and France between 1973 and 1974.
The reviews were initially negative but it received a more mixed reception in later years. On its release in France it became one of the highest grossing French films to date. The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures in America making it the first X-rated film released by the company. The film was popular in Europe, the United States and Asia and was followed-up in 1975 with Emmanuelle, The Joys of a Woman.
The Novel and Author
Emmanuelle is an erotic novel by Emmanuelle Arsan and is the source material for the film of the same name. The novel was originally written in French and published 1967 and was translated into English in 1971. It contains a series of explicit erotic fantasies of the author having sex with (often anonymous) men, her husband, and several lesbian encounters. Written in the third person, the reader sees events entirely through the eyes of the sexually adventurous heroine. The book sold widely and had two print sequels.
Emmanuelle Arsan was the pen name of Marayat Rollet-Andriane, a French novelist and actress originally from Bangkok, Thailand. The novel was published and distributed clandestinely in France in 1959, without an author’s name. Successive editions were ascribed to Emmanuelle Arsan, the pen name of Marayat Rollet-Andriane. Though the novel was sometimes hinted to be quasi-autobiographical, it was later revealed that the actual author was her husband Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane.
Following the success of the film, Arsan was credited as the director and scriptwriter of the film, Laure (1976). The film is about the sexual discoveries of a younger “Emmanuelle”, again in an exotic setting. In fact, the film was directed by Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane and Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli. Reportedly frustrated by problems related to his collaboration with the producer, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Rollet-Andriane asked that Emmanuelle Arsan’s name not be associated with the project.