This is the first of three movies that have lovingly been restored and released on Arrow video from cult adult film director Radley Metzger. The films including this The Score and The Lickerish Quartet which will also be reviewed here were released between 1968 and 1974 with this being the first at the tail end of the swinging 60’s. Metzger had a very well renowned career in his field but was not simply a director of adult films but also one who had a lot of talent utilising excellent camera direction and driving narrative as well as telling a gripping story in the process. He was perhaps most noted for his films which came after these and ones which no doubt would not do quite so favourably with the censors still today. These were the much more explicit likes of The Private Afternoons Of Pamela Mann, The Opening Of Misty Beethoven and S&M classic The Image aka The Punishment Of Anne.
Metzger was born in New York in 1929 and found himself becoming embroiled in the exploitation world after editing various pictures and co-founding Audubon Films. Some of his films were made in both soft and hardcore versions but Camille 2000 was not one of them and this presentation by Arrow offers the most complete version of the film released in the UK running at 124 minutes compared to the Jezebel / Salvation version at 116.
I guess in 1969 the title Camille 2000 must have sounded a bit on the futuristic side but no, the film based on an updated novelisation written by Alexander Dumas was no Barbarella cash in but is very much set in the age it was filmed. We meet a group of hooray Henry and Henrietta’s racing around in flash cars, swigging pills down with champagne and generally acting like Rome, where this is set, is their playground. They also flirt outrageously, with the women being just as predatory and we find destructive as the men. The film centres on Amand (Nino Castelnuovo) and Marguerite (Danièle Gaubert) who is also known as Camille.
The camera takes in lavish beauty and elegance at every twist and turn as their courtship and romance struggles to take off the ground. On entering a posh boutique the colours vibrantly stand out with somewhat garish vulgarity. The two decedent souls clash in a heady collision at a party complete with jarring psychedelic soundtrack. The camera again acts as voyeur and takes us through the scene with the outstanding décor every bit as elegant as the preening cast. There are some great locations here from the mansion that Camille lives in to the sweeping vistas of Rome. I wondered what the likes of Jess Franco could have done given access to such a place on watching this.
It is much more a work of building up characterisation and drama than anything more exploitative. We are teased waiting for carnality and when it does occur eyes are more directed to the stunning bedroom pad which is totally white apart from a few arty bricks randomly placed about and a massive white clad circular bed. When the two finally get it together it is done with the images superimposed over a carousel of mirrors. These party gatherings become more frequent and it is evident that the pathetically enamoured Amand is being played. I loved one scene as everyone gets loaded around a naked woman writhing on a table when two spaced out hipster hippies respond to a knock at the door. “Someone is knocking.” “Why?” “They want to get in!” “Who doesn’t?” Totally deep man!
Things are beginning to swing and again the camera work is designed to make this a work of arty soft erotica rather than anything else as the orgasmic groans are accentuated with the camera going in and out of focus over a shot of Camille’s face and vibrant white flowers. Very clever and it was scenes like this that no doubt had Metzger considered an Auteur. The camera certainly never gives much away employing literally smoke and mirror trickery.
Plot and title take shape and make sense and even the penny starts to drop to Armand who makes a sudden discovery and takes a tumble of a different kind. At least he gets his own back admirably and yes that is a bad pun that will be obvious on seeing the film. The question remains will love find its way and this is what for me completely engrossed as this unfolded over the second half of the movie?
It is intriguing and infuriating in equal measures as the characters have you wanting to drag them through the screen and give them a good shake (ok perhaps more of a good spanking in Camille’s case). It is very much a film of its time and one that we can only hope is not one that some bright spark in Moneywood suddenly decides deems an updated remake. Particularly enjoyable is a long scene at a dungeon prison themed party / orgy but again although erotic and kinky do not go getting hopes up that this is comparable to the likes of Femmes Des Sade, it is all done in the best possible of taste.
Despite this, it is a film you should probably think carefully before sitting down and watching as a romantic valentine treat rather than on your own but if you like films set in the era this is up there with Russ Meyer deep in the valley of the dolls and well worth viewing.
There are plenty of extras on this double pack Blu-ray – DVD presentation including director with historian Michael Bowen commentary, restoration feature, and alternate discovered and extended scenes, and on set feature.
Next Up The Lickerish Quartet