This week, I’m looking at a movie from director Radley Metzger. “Wait, Radley Metzger, the pornographer?” you ask. Yes, the very same. Metzger did make several straight-up porn movies in his career, but he also directed many that were not. Camille 2000 is one of his that definitely isn’t porn but it is most certainly one of the most interesting and beautifully photographed erotic films you’re likely to see.
Based on the 1852 Alexandre Dumas fils (the son of author Alexandre Dumas) novel and play La Dame aux Camélias, Camille 2000 tells the story of Marguerite Gautier and her doomed love affair with Armand Duval. Marguerite (Danièle Gaubert) is a beautiful young woman, living the high life in Italy. While she, herself, isn’t rich, she has been given a huge villa to live in by one of her lovers, as well as money for whatever she wants. What she wants, to quote Ian Dury, is “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”. The parties she throws at the villa include all three of those things in staggering amounts. She moves through life doing whatever she wants, whomever she wants, whenever she wants. One night, she meets Armand Duval (Nino Castelnuovo), son of a wealthy businessman. Armand is smitten with her from the moment he claps eyes on her. Marguerite, well, not so much. She has more men than she knows what to do with. Eventually, the two get together and sparks fly. After they become a couple, Armand demands that she give up her other lovers, and she does because she loves him. All is well with the lovers until it isn’t. If you know the story of Camille, then you know there isn’t a happily ever after ending. Something or someone always comes between the couple and this story is no exception.
As mentioned earlier, this is a piece of erotica. There is copious amounts of nudity (mostly female) on display here. The sex scenes are extended and are pretty goshdarn hot, if I say so myself. Both Gaubert and Castelnuovo are very easy on the eyes. When Gaubert’s on screen, you can’t take your eyes off her. She’s mesmerizing. Metzger’s direction of the sex scenes stands out because he takes great pains to shoot them in different and interesting ways. He uses mirrors, lighting, and unusual textures during these scenes that elevate them from just an ordinary sex scene.
It’s not just the sex scenes that are filmed with this kind of attention and care, the whole movie is gorgeous. The production design is absolutely stunning. The sets are very psychedelic and are definitely of the period. The costumes are to die for. There are several party/orgy scenes, so the amount of costumes they had to use is staggering. Metzger and his cinematographer, Ennio Guarnieri (The Cassandra Crossing), really managed to make the most of their low budget because what’s on screen looks so lush and decadent.
Another stand-out in the movie is the music. The score from Piero Piccioni is remarkable. Once you hear it, you’ll have that lush main orchestral theme in your head for days. It’s hard to describe Piccioni’s music here, it’s like a mash-up of a bunch of genres including jazz, funk, lounge, and about ten more genres. It’s really something special.
With Camille 2000, the planets aligned just right for Metzger. What could’ve been just another softcore retelling of the Marguerite story is, instead, one dazzling piece of filmmaking. Some might call him a smut peddler but what Metzger’s peddling here is anything but. It’s lush, sexy, and something you should be watching soon.
Camille 2000 is available on Blu-ray from CultEpics. It includes an informative commentary track with Metzger himself. It’s also available for rent on Amazon Prime. I cannot attest to which version Amazon is streaming so it could be a censored version of the film.
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