Thursday, October 18, 2012
RIP: Goodbye, Emmanuelle
From Amsterdam comes the sad news that Sylvia Kristel, soft-core superstar of the 1970s, has returned to Fabulon. Kristel occupied an uneasy place in films, neither an outright porn queen, but even so, never quite respectable. She had a bumpy private life (a too-colorful childhood, the usual range of addictions, followed by the concomitant financial straits) and only limited success in later years in finding something to do outside of tawdry films.
Today, Kristel's brand of knowing naughtiness seems as far away and downright quaint as anything in the careers of either of this week's two earlier ladies, Misses Gish and Shearer - Emmannuelle was marketed as "a film that won’t make you feel bad about feeling good,” a quintessentially '70s sort of notion. Her kind of exploitation picture may have been supplanted by, in turn, hardcore, home video, and most recently the pornucopia that is the Internet; still, she was a lovely woman in her way and an influential figure in the shadier regions of film history. If nothing else, she has delighted vast audiences of lonely businessmen in cable-subscribing hotels around the world for many years, and that deserves a nod.
As for her most famous character (although she also took on both Lady Chatterley and Mata Hari at various points)? Emmanuelle has taken on a life of her own, in variations from Black Emmanuelle to Emmanuelle in Space. I suppose it's just a matter of time until Zombie Emmanuelle, but Kristel fans know the truth - accept no substitutes. Fire up the Cinemax time machine, and return to an age of soft focus, cheesy string-heavy soundtracks, synthetic fabrics and simulated coitus; for a good time, call Sylvia...