August 12, 2005


Was Emmanuelle a real person? Well yes, she was and as far as I know still is, of sorts.

Maryat Rollet-Adriane is in fact the original Emmanuelle. Rollet-Adriane was the wife of a French diplomat at UNESCO. She joined him at his diplomat posting in Bangkok, Thailand.

‘Emmanuelle’ published in 1967, echoes the reality, Rollet-Adrianes’ story is a lavish sexually charged expedition as a young wife Emanuelle, journeys from Paris to Bangkok to be with her husband. When she arrives he encourages her propensity for an erotic odyssey. Rollet-Adriane wrote under the pseudonym Emmanuelle Arsan. The book was so explicit that it was banned in France and consequently because of this became a bestseller.

In 1969, Emmanuelle fever kissed Europe fleetingly and the innovative Italian film industry cast euro scream queen Erica Blanc as the titular femme-fatale in ‘Io, Emmanuelle’ (u.k title ‘A Man for Emmanuelle’). From what I have read about the movie most is indicative that this is just a tepid drama from the director Cesare Canevari he went on to direct the notorious ‘sadiconazista’ classic ‘The Gestapos Last Orgy’ in 1977.

1971 saw ‘Emmanuelle’ first published in America, the simple tale of sexual awakening and heady eurotica meant that after a bit of a hit and miss start Emmanuelle became trendy again. This also fell into place at a time of new liberalisation and freedom sexually and politically, Emmanuelle could not have made a better timed entrance.

France 1973, Just Jaeckin directed softcores answer to hardcores ‘Deep Throat’, ‘Emmanuelle’ became a box office smash. Classic romance met sensual burlesque, Emmanuelle the movie was a liberated view of pure sexual impulse. The cinematography is stunning taking and milking all it can get from the Thai landscapes and the Thai culture from the topaz paradise of fertile vegetation to the sweat and steam rawness of the claustrophobic opium dens, we share all this.

Emmanuelle was massive in Europe and Stateside and boosted ‘porn chic’ to new dizzy heights and made it accessible to the mainstream that lapped it up. It spawned numerous sequels and despite the dampening of hype still continued to chug along proving lucrative. Sylvia Kristel pops up now and again to remind us of the Emmanuelle brands pioneering beginnings with her at the helm.

The video boom of the 1980’s ensured Emmanuelles transition from the big screen to the small one was smooth and lucrative once more. From VCR to cable Emmanuelle gets about a bit.

Maryat Rollet-Adriane re-invented herself by emphasising the erotic and stifling the mundane and became an icon of the cottage industry of soft-core porn.

It’s what was going on in the seedy realms of exploitation that was and is, retrospectively, the most fascinating.....................


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