Emmanuelle 5  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Emmanuelle 5 is Polish surrealist Walerian Borowczyk's penultimate theatrical feature, a film whose merits are hotly debated among cult and artfilm lovers. Some see the movie as nothing more than a commercial sell-out, others as an interesting addition to his body of work.



In 1985, ASP films (owner of the Emmanuelle franchise since the first official feature) approached cult director Borowczyk (notorious for his heavily erotic art films) to helm the latest Emmanuelle feature, and he accepted, excited by the idea of giving a fresh new spin on the series. He was to be in conflict with his producers soon after though, first over the casting of his lead actress, and later for his abstract imagery and "too arty" script.

Some Borowczyk fans consider Emmanuelle 5 an inferior work, and claim he didn't actually direct anything but the "film within a film" Love Express sequence. This was mostly due to the fact that he utilized a series of assistant directors for certain exteriors, namely the Cannes and Middle-Eastern segments. The film, however, contains his trademark lighting, the handwritten notes and drawings, themes of censorship and hypocrisy.

After the critical backlash and failure of the project, Borowczyk would distance himself from Emmanuelle 5.


This time round Emmanuelle is portrayed by Monique Gabrielle, who is, in a jarring change, a bleach blonde American actress. Like most Emmanuelle films, the fifth installment dispenses with any previous character back story. Gabrielle portrays Emmanuelle as a single, free-spirited woman who makes erotic arthouse 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 and is causing a scandal in the process. In fact, we first see her in this film within a film, in sequence on a set of craggy rocks overlooking the ocean. Later, she defends her film at a press conference to reporters who accuse her of creating pornography. This parallels Borowczyk's own experiences at the same festival.

After the Q&A, Emmanuelle's producer introduces her to Prince Rajid, a wealthy despot who owns 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 young millionaire who disapproves of Emmanuelle's erotic films. The couple quickly fall in love after a night of exciting sex on his yacht, and Emmanuelle learns about Foster's late father, a power-hungry business man who built and flew planes as a hobby. The Heron, the world's largest carrier-plane was his boldest creation, and harshest failure... driving him mad.

After an argument with the concerned Foster, Emmanuelle travels to Benglagistan to promote her film, and meets Eddie, an Indiana Jones style danger-seeker who befriends her. Prince Rajid kidnaps her for his harem. Eddie helps her escape. Charles send an army helicopter to help Emmanuelle. Eddie dies in the shootout but she escapes with the helicopter and finally goes back to Charles and they are united.

Emmanuelle encourages Charles D. Foster to fly the Heron and rid himself of the demons of the past. The plane quickly falters and crashes into the mountains near Las Vegas. After being rescued and returning home to mourn her dead lover, she receives a note and flowers and realizes Foster is alive... and loves only her.


There are at least three versions:

  • The theatrical European version (dubbed into French, Italian and German), known as "the Borowczyk" version. Released in 2006 by Lionsgate UK on DVD, fullscreen. Also available in Greece from Arcadia Digital, in a widescreen, letterboxed version.
  • The US version, including new scenes produced by Roger Corman, and directed by Steve Barnett. Members of the original cast, as well as new actors, were brought to Los Angeles a year later to shoot the additional footage. This version was completed in 1987, and also utilizes Borowczyk's out-takes. The new scenes are quite different from the traditional European style that people expect from Emmanuelle films, and are more in the vein of 80s sex-comedy in the style of Bachelor Party (movie). The attempt was to give the story more cohesion, and tighten the pacing, making it more commercial. No final film print edit was done, it was all put together on 3/4 video with a series of fade-ins and bleeds. After a few years, Corman's New Horizon imprint opted for a home video release in 1992, only available in a full-screen transfer. It never screened theatrically. Available on New Horizons DVD in the US.
  • The French home video version, including hard-core sex scenes that don't feature any of the principal cast. This version is trimmed of several minutes of footage found in the theatrical European version. Released in France by Carrere Video on VHS, dubbed. Out of print, never released on DVD.


French popstar Pierre Bachelet returns to score his second Emmanuelle film, following his hugely successful soundtrack for the debut feature film in 1974.

The Emmanuelle 5 soundtrack is more lush Europop, this time featuring 80s style synth in addition to the guitars and vocals (by Sandy Stevenson and Bachelet himself). There are also exotic middle-Eastern sounding tracks, in keeping with the film's harem sub-plot.

It was never released on LP or CD, unusual for a Bachelet score. It remains highly coveted by his fans, and those of the Emmanuelle franchise.


Erroneously referred to as Emmanuelle V on sites such as IMDB, although the original theatrical promo posters (French, German, UK, Italian, Turkish and American) all call it Emmanuelle 5. Subsequent video/DVD releases also call it Emmanuelle 5. The opening credits read Emmanuelle 5, in the trademark curling script font that has been used for the logo since 1974.

The film was released in 1986 theatrically, not 1987 as commonly supposed.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Emmanuelle 5" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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