by Rich Moreland, August, 2013
Rarely do I publish a precursor to a film review, but this time it’s needed. Look for the movie’s full analysis soon.
The Submission of Emma Marx, an engaging film from New Sensations, is in the vanguard of a budding adult film genre. The movie establishes a style of pornography that is romantic and erotic with a hardcore kick of dominance and submission (D/s) that satisfies a woman’s desires.
Emma presents an updated take on an old theme that was once, by virtue of the delicacy of the female sex, considered to be exclusively a male fantasy. In a 1920s classic stag film called An English Tragedy, a jilted boyfriend captures his ex and ties her spreadeagled for his sexual thrills. It’s a revenge tale and she doesn’t have fun. A decade or so later, a terrified Fay Wray is bound between two pillars in a blockbuster known as King Kong. She’s a sacrificial offering the island natives string up for the big ape. The twist is the “beast” falls in love and gives his all for the “beauty” in a fatal plunge from the Empire State Building. Both films are love stories with strong bondage overtones.
In neither of these productions, one underground and the other legit, is the woman as victim expected to be sexually aroused.
Dancing on the doorstep of the explicit sex era, naked women are tortured for male sophomoric jollies in sexploitation films like White Slaves of Chinatown (1964) and Love Camp 7 (1968). Referred to as roughies and kinkies, these movies are high camp soft core at its most brutal. Nary a girl has fun except when it comes to settling the score.
In 1975, a harsh BDSM tale hit the big screen, the film version of the French novel, The Story of O. Society’s proper decorum insisted that women were not to like this soft core fictional account of abuse for abuse’s sake, sexual slavery under the lash. But it, too, is a love story and O can always walk away. BDSMers call it consensuality, though Webster doesn’t recognize the term. Adult film responds the same year with a Gerard Damiano O knockoff called The Story of Joanna, a movie remembered more for the legendary Jamie Gillis than its combo of bondage (which is pretty tame) and sex. Incidentally, like O, Joanna (played by Terri Hall) emerges as the narrative’s strongest character.
Fast forward to the second decade of the twenty-first century and the print sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey. At long last, female desire is validated, albeit in a semi-desperate “must reform him” setting that finds excuses for the perverted male. Liking BDSM for its own sake, you see, is still troublesome. Nevertheless, Fifty jarred the submission door open for adult film. Women who previously did not buy into the dungeon of discipline and pain are now willing to take a second look at D/s sex in the name of love, sacrifice, and dark pleasure.
Though adult film’s road to the BDSM Land of Oz remains a slogging trek, the horizon is brightening. In this century, Porn Valley’s passable blindfolds and light floggings are now counterbalanced with a rough and tumble niche product from San Francisco’s internet giant, Kink.com. But where does this leave female viewers and couples who like a bit of romance with their soft corded flogger?
Enter a diminutive girl named Emma.
Written from a hetero female standpoint, The Submission of Emma Marx introduces a woman’s take on romance with a powerfully kinky flavor. The movie experiments with the midway point between the psychological tension and passion of sex women embrace and the stark “beat and punish” fantasy of Kink.com.
This new type of porn succeeds with solid storytelling and creative directing. However, the vital ingredient is the female protagonist. She must be vulnerable, assertive, relish her discipline as a prelude to sex, have real orgasms, and never lose the power of her character, a tall order for any girl. This is where Emma Marx shines. The energetic Penny Pax, trained in BDSM performances at Kink.com, is an authentic star in a business that too often proclaims every girl a star. She is superlative in a beautiful narrative.
By the way, Emma Marx is not alone in its exploration of submission pornography. Smash Pictures’ Bound by Desire series adds its voice to the field. But for now, New Sensations leads the pack in this new genre with a finely crafted film that is as much art as it is steamy sex.