Soft at the Core: “Emmanuelle” (1974)

UNDER WRAPS: In the age of the burgeoning explicit sex film, how was it possible to reengage the audience appetite for eroticism rather than gynecological exhibition? Was it possible for soft-core to succeed in the face of the pornographic evolution of trendy “porno chic”?

    In the world of cinema sex, Just Jaeckin’s 1974 film “Emmanuelle” holds a rather special position between the then newly popularized concept of “porno chic” and the continuing exploration of sexual politics within the framework of the artistically inclined cinema; while in Hollywood, newly liberated from the moral chastity belt of the Production Code, studios were blindly inching their way through the cultural ether, succumbing to the infantile predilection of admitting to the very existence a sexual nature in the human experience by flashing a bare buttock or a pair of breasts in the most sniggery manner possible.

   That the porno end of the spectrum quickly made it’s limited aesthetic intentions clear by the ceaseless procession of gynecological “tunnel shots” and ejaculatory excesses had the curious effect of anti-eroticism as the continuous depiction of coitus interruptus necessary for the seemingly important evidence of male climax, lending the supposed celebration of heterosexual carnality an unintended and certainly curiously unrecognized concession to the homoerotic. This ironic disengagement of intimacy at the moment of satisfaction rendered an ironic impotence toward the illusion of the sought completion of the  any genuine immersive (save for either base curiosity or prurience which are themselves exhausted by the numbing repetition inherent in the porn genre) erotic charge (thus with emmanuelle10explicit sexuality, film lost one of its most stimulating characteristics: the sensorial excitement of the imagination (the brain being the most sexual organ in the body) nullifying one of the key elements of judicial guidelines warning about the dangers in pornography- that it results in sexual stimulation or arousal -when in fact, artistically successful material of a sexually charged nature would naturally lead to such physiological or stimulated psychological responses. To expect an aspiring work of art to fail in its stimulative value based upon destructively misinformed standards encouraged not by critics or educated cultural canon but by myopic judiciary creates qualitative void advanced, not by aesthetic but moral evaluations.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in books, erotica, Film Reviews, French cinema, movie reviews, Movies, Porno Chic, Reviews, sex, Sylvia Kristel, women and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Soft at the Core: “Emmanuelle” (1974)

  1. Hard core porn is definitely a guy thing and an acquired taste at that. Never did much for me. Pity, too. Getting turned on is such a personal thing.

    • beetleypete says:

      You are correct Marylin. It is acknowledged that pornography is accessed predominantly by men. As a man I cannot explain why this is, but it is also a thing of youth, of discovery and exploration. Especially for young men who can get no positive female companionship. Everyone has their personal turn-ons, that’s for sure. Fetishes and the like are also mainly the habit of men.
      There is no hope for us!

  2. beetleypete says:

    I have to say that I found it very erotic at the time, and far better than conventional Blue (Stag) films that I had seen. But then I was only 22 years old back then, and easily pleased. Some years later, I bought the film on VHS, and found myself fast-forwarding through most of it, just to get the Lesbian scenes! Looking back now, as an ‘elderly gentleman’, I find Ms Kristel far too thin, and nowhere near as attractive as I recalled.
    Best wishes from England, Pete.

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