AMORE LIBERO - FREE LOVE (out now on DVD as THE REAL EMANUELLE) is one of those part travelogue, part erotic feature, part mondo films that was a subgenre the Italians crafted on their own, as opposed to borrowing riffs from American, English or German films. (Though one wonders if films like SOUTH PACIFIC and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY had some impact on the consciousness of these filmmakers.) This 1974 film offers up the carefree native life of the tropical islands, where the stresses of the European white male are eased and finally dissipated by erotic meetings with sexually-open, cheerful island women. Euro-cult queen Laura Gemser disposes of her minimal clothing at every opportunity, while another femme turns up (played by Olga Bisera) who gives Gemser a run for her nude money. But it is Gemser who shines in her debut film role with her open smile, friendly come-on manner, and slinky, sexy body.
For the Javanese beauty, AMORE LIBERO represented her introduction to Italy. A model, her photos had piqued the interest of the producers, who contacted her agency with an invite to do an audition for the forthcoming film. Gemser obviously passed the audition, and soon found herself in Seychelles Islands working with such actors as Enzo Bottesini and Venantino Venantini under the direction of Pier Ludovico Pavoni.
The story has young engineer, Francesco Ferraro (Enzo Bottesini), arriving to Emerald Island to conduct tests that will initiate the building of a silver mine. A previous engineer sent by Francesco's employer has disappeared, ostensibly with an island maiden. Francesco tries to continue his work, while staying with an eccentric white inhabitant, Antoin (Venantino Venantini), who seems to be an unofficial overlord of the place. Even before arriving to the island, Ferroro meets Janine (Laura Gemser), a seductive island girl. On the island, she easily coaxes him into being her lover and the pair become a familiar sight among the natives as Jeanine introduces Francesco to the ways of island life and its people.
While things go along at a sunny erotic pace, the film starts turning strangely dark towards the middle with the introduction of black magic acts. It appears that Antoin is adept at the black arts and using these arts to attain control over what happens on the island and with Francesco.
This is where things get really interesting. A Christian mass held on the ocean, with worshippers arriving by boats, is juxtaposed with a rather revolting, though sickly transfixing mondo scene, the skinning of two bats, one of which is used as a mock-Christ on a cross by Antoin. Hallucinogenics come into play, and the island's white woman Katia (Olga Bisera) dances in a midnight voodoo-type ritual, nude and wild with drugged abandon. Antoin appears as a devilish violinist, further descending the film into the hellish weird. This macabre atmosphere is not perpetual, but its insertion into the plot makes for a far more compelling film than AMORE LIBERO would have been otherwise.
AMORE LIBERO - FREE LOVE was later retitled to THE REAL EMANUELLE to take advantage of Gemser's internationally popular "Black Emanuelle" series. This print carries the AMORE LIBERO - FREE LOVE credits.
Mya's presentation is one of their most problematic. Sourced from an obvious video element (there are a couple of tape rolls during the beginning credit sequence), the presentation is of bootleg video quality, with a lack of clarity and too murky for many scenes shot with shadows and darkness in play, hindering the clear representation of the film's frequent nude scenes. Of course, the balm is that this film is rare (even Gemser has apparently not seen it) and has never been available on the DVD market in the States and with English subtitles. The presentation also keeps much of the widescreen ratio, though the sides are still cut off if judged by the credit sequence.
Perhaps one day, some company will bring out this film with the dedication and the more financially expansive pockets of a Severin. Severin's release of BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX Volume 1 and Volume 2 were exemplary. If AMORE LIBERO ever gets this treatment, we can finally see Gemser's debut performance in all its unclothed, crystal clear glory. Till then, this Mya DVD will have to do.
THE REAL EMANUELLE is on sale at Amazon.com.
Below: Mya Blog Bonus. Laura Gemser tries a horse ride in a photoshoot during the filming of AMORE LIBERO. That's a lucky horse, btw. Olga Bisera also rode it bare pussy.
And here's an interview with Venantino Venantini, one of the hardest working men in euro-films, with over 140 credits. Seems quite a character: