"People don't assume John Wayne shoots people and rides a horse on weekends," she told a Dutch interviewer. "People think I'm a nymphomaniac." - Sylvia Kristel
Sylvia Kristel famous for starring in the erotically-charged, but very soft-core porn “Emmanuelle” films died on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 in the Netherlands at age 60. She died of cancer.
Before becoming the face of soft-core porn, Kristel was a secretary, model and sometimes actress. Her being cast in the title role of “Emmanuelle” was purely accidental. She was working in a casting agency in the Netherlands when French director Just Jaekin saw her; he was taken in by her features. After much persuasion, he was able to cast her in the lead role.
“Emmanuelle” was released in 1974; it follows the story of a young woman married to a French diplomat. Bored with being the trophy wife to a man who is more interested in international intrigue than sexual ones, Emmanuelle sets out on a journey of sexual self-discovery through the society life of Bangkok, Thailand.
The films where beautifully photographed and set in exotic locations. Using simulated sex scenes, the films focused more on the sensual than the sexual. The sex was more implicit than explicit. They ran counter to the hardcore movies of the times which unabashedly showed it all, in sharp focus, in color and extremely close-up. Some of these hardcore films felt more like an experiment in macro-photography than a sex film. They shocked more that stimulated.
The “Emmanuelle” series became a cult classic. While it did bring a lot of fame and fortune to Ms. Kristel, it did typecast her into mostly sex-related films. Most of her mainstream films were duds and most directors sought her out when they wanted to do a sexy film. However, “Topor et Moi”, a film she directed about Roland Topor, a French illustrator, received a prize during the the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
I did not see all the “Emmauelle” films, but I did see “Emmanuelle 2: The Joys of Woman”. Its soft-core approach while not very sexually stimulating made the films more appealing to mainstream audiences. With the introduction of VCRs in the home and Video Stores (remember them?), films like “Emmanuelle” made their way into the living rooms of most homes and helped re-kindle many a sexless marriages.
When these films started making their way into home video, I found them to be extremely useful as a form of warm-up to foreplay and beyond whenever I was having a Video Night date (read: cheap date) with a woman.
Soft-core porn does have its place in the bedroom. Thanks to people like Sylvia Kristel for adding a new dimension to sexual adventurism; soft-core pornography helps couples enjoy a little naughty viewing without the hardcore.
Tot Ziens, Slyvia!