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Emmanuelle 5
IMDB Rating: 2.8/10 from 646 votes
Release: 7 January 1987 (France) /

Emmanuelle 5

Genre: Action, Drama
Director: Walerian Borowczyk,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: [American version.] Emmanuelle has a streak of bad luck that starts when she is stripped by a mob of adoring fans at the Cannes Film Festival. Her rotten luck continues when the dictator of a banana republic uses the screening of one of her films as a pretext to get her into his country. Our heroine finds herself admitted into his harem as a slave. [Roger Corman fans may be able to identify stock action footage used in the American version.] Written by Eric Conrad <econrad@magnus.ohio-state.edu>

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Critic Reviews


Emmanuelle 5 is Polish surrealist Walerian Borowczyk's penultimate theatrical feature, a film who's merits are hotly debated among cult and art film lovers. Some see the movie as nothing more than a commercial sell-out, others as an interesting addition to his body of work. It's also the last quality entry of the official Emmanuelle franchise. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there are at least three versions: the theatrical European version, the heavily edited US version (including new scenes produced by Roger Corman!), and a European home video version including extra hard-core scenes that feature none of the principal cast.

This time round Emmanuelle is portrayed by Monique Gabrielle, who is, in a jarring change, a bleach blonde American actress. Never mind that the character is supposed to be French, it kind of works, mainly because Ms. Gabrielle has the sense to play the role with just the right nod and wink. And while no actress came close to Sylvia Kristel's beauty, charm and class, Monique makes the role her own. Since the film dispenses with any previous character back story, here she portrays Emmanuelle as a single, free-spirited woman who makes erotic art- films and runs a dance studio out of her beloved loft in Paris.

The movie opens with a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" style montage of Cannes, with a documentary-like narration giving us an overview of the famous film festival held there every year. It seems Emmanuelle is premiering her latest film, Love Express, in Cannes... causing a scandal in the process. In fact, we first see her in this film within a film, in a beautifully shot sequence on a set of craggy rocks overlooking the roaring ocean. At a press conference later, she must defend her film to close-minded reporters who accuse her of creating pornography. It's all obviously a reference to Borowczyk's own experiences at the very same festival. After the Q&A, Emmanuelle's producer, a smarmy French type, introduces her to Prince Rajid, a wealthy sheik who own's the fictional Arab country of Benglagistan. He's apparently obsessed with Emmanuelle and wants to premiere the film in his homeland.

Outside, an adoring throng of male fans awaits Emmanuelle, all desperate for a touch of the famed beauty. Things quickly escalate and soon the mob is stripping her of every last article of clothing, sending her jumping onto a stranger's departing boat for safety. Her unwitting saviour is Charles D. Foster, a nerdy, but handsome young millionaire who disapproves of Emmanuelle's erotic films. Sparks fly, and before you know it, love is in the air. Is a happy ending in the works? Perhaps, but not before a journey back onto the Love Express and Prince Rajid kidnaps Emmanuelle, putting her in his harem.

The version most people know is the English language American edit (which in addition to the new Corman scenes also utilizes Borowczyk's outtakes), perhaps the reason Emmanuelle 5 is dismissed by some. The new scenes, while amusing, just don't gel with the traditional European style that people expect from Emmanuelle films. While the original release of Emmanuelle 5 certainly doesn't lack a sense of humor, Corman's New Horizon version goes over the top with campy 80s comedy, seeming more like a companion to Bachelor Party (also starring Ms. Gabrielle) and other films of that ilk. It's also clumsily edited - the transition between film quality is jarring. What they attempt is admirable (give the story more cohesion, tighten the pacing), but apparently they didn't even bother doing a final film print edit, it was all put together on 3/4 video with a series of bad fade-ins and bleeds. Apparently they opted for a quick home video release and couldn't be bothered to finish it off right. This version is also only available in a terrible full-screen DVD transfer.

If you can track down a copy of Borowczyk's original theatrical edit of Emmanuelle 5, do so. It's a smart, interesting film well worth owning, and has a lot more going for it than Monique Gabrielle's bare breasts.

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