|Sylvia Kristel in the mid 1970's|
For a generation of schoolboys Sylvia Kristel was probably their introduction to sex on the silver screen. Prior to the emergence of Emmanuelle in 1974 the closest a British audience got to seeing some naked flesh on the big screen was if Barbara Windsor's bra came off in a 'Carry On' film or if you were lucky enough to see a Hammer film from the early seventies which featured the likes of Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith or a pair of European sisters with dodgy dubbed accents. Sylvia Kristel changed all that simply by having sex in an aircraft on its way to Thailand, sitting topless in a high backed wicker chair and by lifting her dress and inviting the husband of her best friend to 'take her' over the office furniture.
I saw the film three or four times when it came out, this despite being four years under the age limit for an 'X' rated film. A mate and me tried to persuade two female friends to come with us, when they asked us what the film was about we told them it was a story about nuns in Africa. They didn't buy it, although they did come with us to see Papillon, a film about two convicts, probably a better film but a lot less sex!
I have a friend whose husband worked in the diamond mines in South Africa through the 1960's and 1970's and when he returned to England, and they met, in 1974 she asked him what he would like to do on their first date. He said he'd like to see Emmanuelle because under the apartheid regime the film had been banned and he wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
On a more serious note Sylvia Kristel died in her sleep from cancer at the age of 60. Knowing from first hand experience how cancer can destroy a persons body I hope she slipped away peacefully and without too much pain.