Emmanuelle: A Hard Look is a Documentary programme.

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Emmanuelle: A Hard Look

In Emmanuelle: A Hard Look director Alex Cox and producer Tod Davies examine the film that achieved world-wide success, with its narrative-driven tale of sexual exploits finding favour among consenting adults who saw it as a date movie. The documentary traces the genesis of the film that became the first in what was to be a hugely successful franchise - with over 40 Emmanuelle-related titles following the original film.

This programme focuses on the early part of the series, from the original to the fourth film, and the successful spin-off Black Emmanuelle, combining interviews with stars Sylvia Kristel and Laura Gemser (lead actress in Black Emmanuelle) and clips from several of the films as well as the spoof Carry On Emmanuelle.

The winning formula for Emmanuelle was a heady combination of exotic locations, high production values and a narrative story line that gave cohesion to the sex scenes. The result was a box-office success that launched a previously unknown Dutch actress, Sylvia Kristel, as a fully-fledged, internationally recognised star. Yet it was also to change what was acceptable for filmmakers to feature, removing the stigma of sex from cinema and taking adult themes out of the backstreet private cinema clubs and into the high street cinema. Cinema had come of age.

In the UK the film attracted the attention of James Ferman, the head of the British Board of Film Classification. Ferman was an admirer of the film, describing it as "the first film (of its genre) that did not play to the raincoat brigade" yet he did insist on one cut - that of a rape sequence. Ferman attests that "Emmanuelle made sex respectable in cinema" and expresses surprise that it did not seek to go further in what it depicted on screen. The argument concerning freedom of expression and the role of the censor is explored with the both Ferman and Nadine Strossen the President of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The film was an incredible international hit and in Paris it was to run for 13 years with over 4 million admissions in just one cinema. Emmanuelle had opened a door as to what was permissible in mainstream cinema, redefining what was acceptable to depict on screen. Love it or loathe it, Emmanuelle was to be a benchmark in contemporary cinema.

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 55 minutes (approx)