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Just Jaeckin, the scandalous success of 'Emmanuel', dies at 82

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Fashion photographer-turned-filmmaker Just Jaeckin died on September 6 in Saint-Malo, France. he was 82 years old.

At a hospital near his home in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, his agent, Marina Girard-Mutlett, confirmed the death, which he said was due to cancer.

Mr. Jekin When producer Yves Rousse Rouard hired him to direct a groundbreaking film in a way that showcased sexual pleasure in mainstream theater, he had no filmmaking experience.

Published under the pseudonym Emmanuelle Arsan and based on the controversial French novel in itself, Emmanuelle follows a young married woman who has a series of sexual encounters with men and other women during her travels in Asia. was followed. (The true author was later variously identified as being a French diplomat stationed in Thailand, his wife, or a combination of the two.)

One of the reasons Jackin was hired was that Rousse Rouard wanted “someone who would respect the book,” Girard-Muteret said in an interview.

Looking for a female lead, and casting complicated by the amount of nudity required, Jaeckin chose Sylvia Kristel, a Dutch model in her early twenties with little acting experience.

When production began, according to Girard-Mutlett, Rousse-Rouard tried to pressure Jekin to make the film more sexually explicit. The director stuck to his original vision, including simulated sex scenes shot primarily in soft focus.

“Emmanuel” was banned by the government of President Georges Pompidou, but was released in the summer of 1974, a few months after Mr. Pompidou’s death. Reuters said it became “one of the biggest box office hits in French cinema history”. Nearly 9 million French moviegoers saw the film in theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database.

“People watch movies and walk away without feeling guilty,” Jekin told Reuters.

A tamer alternative to the fairly successful hardcore sex films Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door, released independently in 1972, Emmanuel was distributed in the United States by Columbia Pictures. . It was the studio’s first adult feature. (United Artists had previously released an adult version of “Last Tango in Paris.”)

“They call her Emmanuel,” the US trailer began. “She is the most controversial woman in France today.” , was also a hit in many other countries.

The box office success came despite mostly negative reviews. AH Weiler of The New York Times called it “sophisticated”, “barely uninspired” and “hardly a revelation for enthusiasts long exposed to the genre”.

Not all critics are so harsh. Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, called ‘Emmanuel’ a ‘silly, classy, ​​fun erotic film’ and said that ‘its genre (softcore skin flicks)’ was ‘very well done’. ‘ said.

Just Jaeckin was born on August 8, 1940 in Vichy, France. His father, Just, died when Mr. Jaeckin was four years old, leaving his mother, his Anne-Marie Desperaux, to raise him and his brother Philippe alone.

Mr. Jekin studied photography and sculpture at an art school in Paris before serving in the French Army in the Algerian War.

After returning to France, he began a career as a photographer, eventually shooting covers, features and advertisements for magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Vogue. He also served as his director of art at the Paris Match in the early 1960s. And he spent his training as a sculptor making his work out of materials like cardboard and plastic.

Feminists denounced “Emmanuel” as a male fantasy, but Jeckin believed it had an empowering effect on women, Girard-Mutlett said. (Christel said in an interview that some Japanese women saw the film as a feminist statement, mainly because of the scene in which Emmanuel climbs on top of her husband during sex.)

The Times, in a 2019 article about revival screenings of “Emmanuel,” which included a rape scene, noted that the film “does not meet modern standards for gender or cultural sensitivity, or consent.”

The film’s success spawned several sequels, but none involving Mr. Jekin. There was also a series of Italian knockoffs that circumvented copyright laws by removing one “m” from his character’s name.

Jackin planned to return to work as a photographer after shooting “Emmanuel,” but advertisers and publishers were reluctant to hire him because of the film’s notoriety, Girard-Mutlett said. said.

Instead, he continued to make films, making many erotic films, including 1975’s “The Story of O” and 1981’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” in which he reunited with Ms. Christel. He has produced seven of his films. Totally; the last “The Perils of Gwendoline” was released in his 1984.

Unable to get support for other film projects, Girard-Mutlett said he returned to sculpting and spent his time racing cars and horseback riding.

Jekin was bequeathed to his wife, sculptor Anne Jekin. his daughter, photographer Julia Jekin; and his brother.

Coincidentally, “Emmanuel” is currently running for a limited time at the Metrograph Theater in Manhattan. During a life of ups and downs, Christel passed away in 2012, during which he made more than 20 films, some of which were leading European directors.