The filmography of world-renowned erotic auteur Just Jaeckin is studded with the most storied gems in the annals of skinternational cinema. Among the French filmmaker's enduring creations are The Story of O (1975) (Picture: ), Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) (Picture: ), Gwendoline (1984) (Picture: ), and, towering above them all, Emmanuelle (1974) (Picture: ).

With his background in photography and fine arts and his classic European sense of style, Monsieur Jaeckin gave an air of class to his erotic films that appealed to a wide audience and gave viewers the chance to gape at the undraped forms of Sylvia Kristel (Picture: ), Corinne Clery (Picture: ), Laura Gemser (Picture: ), and Tawny Kitaen (Picture: ).

In honor of Lions Gate's new DVD special edition release of Emmanuelle, Mr. Jaeckin talked to Mr. Skin from his home in France.

What's new on this special edition DVD of Emmanuelle?

I also do a commentary and there are two behind the scenes featurettes.

Can you talk about the experience of making Emmanuelle?

Well, we filmed in Thailand on a very small budget. We all had to fly there on tourist tickets, and our crew consisted of only about ten or fifteen people. We were all very young and inexperienced, including our lead, Sylvia Kristel, and the producer. When we got there, we worked with a Thai crew, none of whom spoke French. And none of us spoke Thai.

Was that a big challenge?

Not really. We began to understand each other almost immediately through gestures and the international language of film.

You've traveled to a lot of exotic locations shooting your movies. What's your favorite place to film?

The studio. I love to travel, but the studio is the only place you can have complete control over everything.

After Emmanuelle (Picture: )was such a huge international success on such a small budget, you were given a much bigger budget for your next movie, the sadomasochistic fantasy The Story of O. How did that change things for you?

Well, I was given $10 million to make The Story of O (Picture: ) in 1976, but after I made the movie, the critics wanted to kill me. But the novel on which the story is based was written by a woman [Pauline Rage, a pen name for Anne Desclos]. I didn't come up with it, a woman did!

It was the same as with Emmanuelle [based on a 1959 novel by Emmanuelle Arsan]. The success of Emmanuelle was due to the fact that it appealed to women as well as to men. The tagline in America was "X was never like this." Both films were based on books by women.

Had you read The Story of O before you made the movie?

Oh, no! You must understand that my background is not in the erotic. I was a photographer. With [both Emmanuelle and The Story of O], I wanted to make a fantasme [fantasy].

What did you think of the sequels to Emmanuelle (Picture: ) and the success of Black Emanuelle (Picture: ) and its sequels?

Oh, I refused to watch them.

How do you assess the cultural impact of Emmanuelle?

Well, the movie has become a cult film now.

If you were making Emmanuelle today, who would you cast in the lead?

Well, Sylvia was brand new, and I think whoever plays Emmanuelle also has to be an unknown actress. You couldn't cast a Hollywood starlet. You would have to find some new girl.

You think it takes a young ingnue to portray Emmanuelle in her journey from innocence to experience?

Yes, of course.

When you made Gwendoline in 1984, you worked with American actress Tawny Kitaen. How was that different from working with a European cast?

It was very good to work with her. Whenever I worked with actors from the U.S., I told them, no Hollywood shit. No caravans.

You've been retired from making films for quite a long time, but have there been any projects you've wanted to make recently?

Yes. I wanted to make a version of The Seven Samurai with a cast of all children. I had a very good script, but I couldn't get the financing.

Without making films, what have you been doing the last few decades?

Well, I am now a sculptor. In the 1960s I was a sculptor and I have returned to that. At the age of 55, I got married to a wonderful woman, and now my wife and I run a successful gallery and have recently shown in Rome.

Would you return to making films if the right project came along?

Yes, if the right project came along.

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