The poster for Emmanuelle showed an elegant, short-haired woman sitting topless on an elaborate wicker throne, coolly regarding the viewer while holding one of the strands of a pearl necklace against her lips. For impressionable young British men in , the watchful gamine with the golden flesh was the last word in sexiness. The film that bore her name gave itself airs as the first of a new genre: the mainstream soft-porn movie. Everything was filmed in gauzy slo-mo, the camera languidly tracking across pastel furnishings, softly-blowing curtains, diaphanous night attire and twining bodies. Whatever ointment was present on set during filming, there was a ton of Vaseline on the lens. Emmanuelle drifts around Bangkok in a semi-erotic trance, experiences girl-on-girl fondling, joins the Mile High club, is raped in an opium den and licks the blood from a wounded boxer's forehead.
There can be few film actors so closely associated with one role as was Sylvia Kristel, who has died of cancer aged This was not surprising, as the Dutch star did play a character called Emmanuelle, with few variations, many times over. In the original film, Kristel portrayed the bored wife of a French embassy official in Bangkok, urged by her libertine husband to explore all the possibilities of sex. Directed with some grace by Just Jaeckin, this glossy soft-porn package, dressed up as art-house erotica, was a huge international hit, becoming the first X-rated film to be released in the US. The success was also put down to Kristel's underestimated performance. According to the critic Roger Ebert: "She projects a certain vulnerability that makes several of the scenes work.
She is best remembered as the eponymous character in five of the seven Emmanuelle films. Her parents divorced when she was 14 years old, after her father abandoned the family for another woman. Kristel began modeling when she was 17 years old. In , before becoming famous, she took part in an audition for the female lead in the film Last Tango in Paris She entered the Miss TV Europe contest in and won.
By Mick Brown. Sylvia Kristel has died at the age of She starred in a series of notorious s soft-porn films beginning with Emmanuelle Mick Brown met her in - and here is his moving interview:.