Friday, July 15, 2011

Blu-Ray Review: Camille 2000 (1969)

Marguerite (the stunning Danièle Gaubert) is a girl who seems to have it all. Young, beautiful ,and married to a fabulously rich duke who puts few demands on her time and fewer still on her body, she is free to explore all the pleasures and excesses that late-sixties Rome has to offer.

These, you will find, are considerable.

We watch Camille as she organizes and attends a series of galas, orgies, and freak-out happenings, against some of the most sumptuous settings and clad in the grooviest fashions imaginable. She drinks, shoots up, and pops pills with abandon, floating from one erotic adventure to the next in a haze of altered reality. (When one of her exhausted, tripping friends asks breathlessly, "Marguerite, don't you ever come down?" she replies, "Not if I can help it!") The victim of an unspecified wasting disease, Marguerite has apparently decided to live life to the fullest every day, and to grab all the sexy goodies she can in the process.

Directed by Radley Metzger, the infamous auteur behind art-house classics (The Lickerish Quartet, 1970) and less-respected but no less arty porn flicks (The Opening of Misty Beethoven, 1976), Camille 2000 is a movie with so much style, substance almost doesn't enter into the equation. From the lush cityscapes of Rome, to bedrooms with inflatable furniture and mirrored walls, Metzger delivers one visual treat after another, for which the main story of Marguerite's affair with comparatively stodgy businessman Armand (Nino Castelnuovo) is simply the framework. The new Blu-Ray release from Cult Epics does great justice to Metzger's film, and should have arty-erotica fans standing at attention and saluting.

Nota bene: I do not have screen-capture capability on my blu-ray...therefore I have shamelessly stolen all the images in this review (unless otherwise noted) from Retrocinema by Wetcircuit, an excellent site that everyone should visit immediately. Full credit to Wetcircuit, who I hope will not hate and/or sue me.

About that story--Marguerite's world of carefree, casual sex and drug use is rocked when she meets and falls in love with Armand, the son of a wealthy Italian tycoon in Rome to learn the family business. After some rather stoic flirtatiousness at a couple of parties (including an orgy featuring a Eurobabe in an amazing mesh bikini), Marguerite takes Armand to her bed, kicking off a series of sensual sex scenes and an affair that will change everything for her, and not really in a good way. While Marguerite is a free-love kind of girl, Armand demands faithfulness.


When he tells her he wants her to be his alone, Marguerite sighs, "Are we there already? Measuring love like a coffin? Who loves the most, how do we measure it? In carats, or ducats?" Armand is not to be dissuaded, however, and Marguerite reacts by breaking a date with him so she can make love to a cruel young Count with whom she has a strange sex/power relationship. When Armand learns of the betrayal, he responds as you would expect--by sending a model to Marguerite's bedroom, who then strips nude to reveal a note on her back reading "YOU ARE A WHORE! I WAS AN IDIOT!" 

Okay, maybe you wouldn't expect that. But it does make an impression.

"No, it wasn't the couch...that one was all me."

The rest of the film is about Marguerite's relationship with Armand, how his need for faithfulness and hers for freedom clash. This comes to a head when Armand's father confronts her and warns her off, leading to a break-up, misunderstandings, erotic revenge, and a glittery partner-swapping bondage party with chain-mail dresses and public sex! Finally, Marguerite's strange malady reappears, lending a tragic end that you pretty much had to think was coming.

Except that's not really what the film's about. What it's about is the visual experience of Metzger's imagery, the amazing sets and costumes and compositions, which are usually centered around the act of sticky love. Two long sequences in Marguerite's amazingly appointed bedroom are visually stunning, containing some representations of oral sex (but cunni- and fellati-) that are both artistic and tasteful. (ba-dump) To be honest the story drags a bit at times, but if you give yourself over to the beauty of the images on the screen, it's well worth the trip.

For Mad Movie fans, there is joy to be had in the amazing costumery of Marguerite's hippie entourage, including some that look like they just walked off the set of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Also, though the flick was filmed in English, few of the actors seem comfortable in the language, and Armand's father's mush-mouthed delivery is an unintentionally hilarious highlight. The acting throughout is fairly wooden, but whether that's a directorial decision, or a result of the language barrier, or just how Europeans acted in the 60s, it's still rather secondary. Gaubert is stunning, Rome is beautiful, and the camera drinks it all in. That's all you really need.

Promo Art from Cult Epics

Cult Epics has done a great job with the Blu-Ray presentation, improving greatly upon previous transfers (despite some perhaps inexpungable print damage). The colors and sound are great, and the disc is packed with extras, including behind-the-scenes and restoration featurettes, commentary by Metzger himself, deleted scenes, outtakes, and trailers. A great package for lovers of 60s sexploitation.

Movie: 2.5 thumbs
Blu-Ray:  3 thumbs

And be sure to visit for more great images from this and other films!

Not from the Cult Epics transfer, but it does appear in the film, and was too wild not to show. Credit to Tenebrous Kate for the grab!


dfordoom said...

This was the first Radley Metzger movie I saw. It's not his best, but it may be his most gorgeous movie.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding movie. Now, if they could ever release The Libertine to Blu ray. that would really be something!!!

Much respects to a great blog.


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