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Emmanuelle: L’antivierge (1975)

After a dalliance with another passenger on an all-girl cruise to Hong Kong, Emmanuelle (Sylvia Kristel) is reunited with her husband once again (This time the husband is played by the very different-looking Umberto Orsini). Although the reunited lovers are quick to give into their animal lust for one another, the film involves Emmanuelle embarking on a variety of other sexual adventures, some with her husband in tow (including a sensual group massage in a bath-house), some not (such as a rendezvous with a tattooed polo player seemingly just for the hell of it). She also befriends young dancer Anna Maria, whom Emmanuelle discovers is a virgin. Emmanuelle thinks it’s her duty to change that. First she boinks Anna Maria’s dance teacher, of course.

I wasn’t much impressed with the 1974 original, it hasn’t aged well and is incredibly tame. However, this 1975 sequel from director/co-writer Francis Giacobetti is a massive improvement on just about every level. So long as you know what kind of film this is, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with this one.

Things don’t start off so great, though. Sure, Sylvia Kristel has thankfully grown her hair out, but it looks like someone played a prank on cinematographer Robert Fraisse (“Emmanuelle”) and left the lens cap on for the opening scene. And early on it feels like the only difference between the two films is going to be the mode of transport Emmanuelle takes to meet her husband. Meanwhile, watching a bunch of Filipino women basically rape another woman doesn’t really rock my boat. The subsequent lesbian scene with Kristel and the aforementioned woman is shot too close-up and has no nudity, which is a shame. But after the early darkness, Fraisse’s work exponentially improves, it’s a much better-looking film than the previous film. The scenery is certainly a major improvement, looking rather cut-rate in the original.

I also warmed to the title character much more in this film as she is far less of a prude, and much more experienced in sexual pleasure now. Best of all, whether the film is any more explicit than the first film or not, it’s certainly done in less arty fashion, and all the more erotic for it. The first film’s idea of eroticism was a bit disturbing to me, and aside from that early scene, this one is much sexier, even managing to make acupuncture seem sexy. I’d never considered that before to be honest, and for a 1975 softcore film, this is pretty damn sexy. It’s perhaps a little too obsessed with masturbation (insert joke here, followed by a joke about inserting something) this time around, but at least the film is doing its job. All of the sex scenes are pretty steamy, but there are two standout sexual set pieces. The first features Kristel, a masseuse played by the one and only Laura Gemser (star of her own cheaper and more explicit series of films with a similar name), and two other chicks having one helluva sensual massage, along with Emmanuelle’s husband and another masseuse. Despite not really being a sex scene per se, is one of the most genuinely erotic scenes in cinematic history. The scene, the most well-known in the entire franchise, is stunning, if a little silly when you think about it. But why would you think about it, stupid? But the film really hits its erotic heights during the climactic three-way between Emmanuelle, her husband, and dancer Anna Maria, who despite looking to be in her mid to late 20s, is really the equivalent of the teenaged Marie-Ange character from the first film, this time paying it off, however. It’s pretty damn explicit all things considered, and even hotter than the massage scene. The most explicit moment in the film actually comes from a hilariously naughty animation Emmanuelle views at one point.

If there’s a problem with the film, it’s that it’s essentially the same damn plot as the previous film, just with a more experienced title character. People don’t watch these films for plot, sure, but it still needs to have one, and this one’s kinda plagiaristic. But this is a film that basically suggests the height of intelligence is to not care that your husband fucks around. So let’s not do much thinking or over-analysing here, OK?

Overall it matters not whether this is a great piece of storytelling, what matters is that it is an absolutely outstanding example of its chosen genre. It’s one of the greatest softcore erotica films of all-time (Small praise perhaps). If you see any “Emmanuelle” film from the first four in the series, this is the one to see. Co-written by Bob Elia, the film is based on a novel by Emmanuelle Arsan.