Laure (1976)

a.k.a. - Forever Emmanuelle

Al Cliver and Annie Belle star alongside the original Emmanuelle Arsan in this well made softcore erotica . Severin USA R0 DVD.

The Film

In Manila, young Laure (Annie Belle) is running to catch a taxi when she bumps into the handsome Nicola (Al Cliver). With only one space left in the taxi, they share a seat and begin an instant friendship. Laure is the daughter of a local preacher who is hosting a meeting about the forgotten Mara tribe who inhabit an island nearby. Laure and Nicola develop their relationship when it emerges that they both enjoy free love, but in different ways - she loves to explore, but he enjoys only to watch. Eventually, along with Professor Morgan, they head into the remote Phillipine jungle to find the mysterious tribe...

French film Emmanuelle was released in 1974 - based on a best selling book it proved immensely popular and quickly spawned a whole genre of softcore erotic films particularly in Italy. Producer Ovidio Assonitis was looking to shoot his own genre entry and by good luck knew a friend of a friend who was Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane, the French diplomat who actually wrote the original Emmanuelle stories in the 1950s (crediting them to his wife Emmanuelle Arsan to avoid controversy). He was commissioned to write an all new story and to direct it as a film. His initial script was a thematic sequel to the novels, containing some lengthy discourses on free love and sexuality - however the film's producers were quick to remove most of this uncinematic philosophising. With the exception of the Far East setting, the final script bares very little relation to the original Emmanuelle stories, particularly in its eponymous female lead; Laure is not the initially naive figure who is 'taught to love' of the novels, but equally is not the completely independant Black Emanuelle character played by Laura Gemser in the parallel series of the films in the 1970s - she is an assertive woman, but one who will look up to a man on occasion and asks permission to express her free love.

The film is often very slow paced, it is over 20 minutes before the first sex scenes and the jungle expedition only begins after a full two thirds of the film have passed, this pacing is certainly more reminiscent of the sedate Emmanuelle (1974) than the various Italian variences which often moved quickly between the all important sex and sleaze scenes. Fortunately there is enough characterisation to keep the audience interested throughout the first half and by the second half, the film begins to descend into a curious surreality that fits the langurious pacing well (something that would have helped the original Emmanuelle (1974)) with some lengthy purely visual sequences. The script is not without its oddities however - there are a couple of sex scenes (notably between Prof. Morgan's wife and lover) that seem to have been added in to simply up the sex count and towards the end a few of the characters seem to simply disappear from the story.

The direction on the film is left uncredited - Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane fell out with the producers over the toning down of the script and subsequently disowned the production - yet despite his lack of experience and producer Ovidio Assonitis' history in low budget horror schlock (including Beyond the Door (1974)) the film looks amazing with some beautifully shot sequences in Manilla and some superb sex scenes that manage to be both erotic and artistic. The occasional Euro-Cult composer Franco Micalizzi (The Last Hunter (1980)) provides a very solid soundtrack with some good 'native' themes, that suits the film very well.

The unusually beautiful Annie Belle plays the titular Laure and looks very good in the role, both in and out of costume. Lucio Fulci regular Al Cliver plays her film-making lover while Orso Maria Guerrini (Keoma (1976)) plays the Professor. Emmanuelle Arsan herself (an occasional actress previously credited as Marayat Andriane in the 1960s) plays the Professor's lover Myrte and is good in the part, with a well played lesbian sex scene.

Despite the disputes between director and producer, Laure is one of the better erotic films of the 1970s - eschewing the often unnecessary sleaze of the Italian productions and avoiding the interminably slow pacing of many of the French entries, it is both artistic and erotic, with a good storyline - boosted by some strong acting and superb direction. Recommended to fans of cinematic erotica who don't need sleaze or hardcore sex to sustain their interest.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Al Cliver - star of several of Lucio Fulci's horror films, including The Beyond (1981) and Zombi 2 (1979).
Annie Belle - an atypical beauty who co-starred with Laura Gemser in Velluto nero (1978)
Directed by anyone interesting? Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane - the French diplomat who wrote the original Emmanuelle novels. He disowned the film after the producers changed much of his original script.
Any gore or violence? None
Any sex or nudity? Numerous softcore sex scenes and female nude scenes (plus one brief male nude scene).
Who is it for? One for those who enjoy their sex films with a decent storyline and some surreality, but not one for sleaze fans.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
A very good looking picture with almost no print damage or grain and very good colours, some minor artifacting.
Note: a few scenes are intentionally lower quality, shot on a character's 16mm camera.
Audio English mono - sounds fine although the dubbing is quite noticeable on several of the actors.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • A newly shot interview with producer Ovidio Assonitis who goes into detail about the film's origins and production. He speaks strongly accented English, subtitles might have been helpful. (15m)
  • Interviews with Annie Belle (audio only) and Al Cliver, from a different DVD of the film, they talk about the film and their careers in general - in Italian with English subtitles. (15m)
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? Also available on DVD from Japan.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. The print used is French.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 30th May 2007 - updated 14th April 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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