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June 29, 2011

Movie Review: Camille 2000 (1969, Blu-ray)

2011 has really become a year for the films of Radley Metzger. Three prominent genre companies (Cult Epics, Synapse Films and Distribpix with his Henry Paris films) have spearheaded DVD and Blu-ray releases for the acclaimed cult film director. Cult Epics, who put Metzger's Score out in late 2010 have continued produce his features on the high-def format. Most recently Cult Epics released Lickerish Quartet (1970) and now the extended cut of Camille 2000 (1969).

Buy Camille 2000 (Extended Version) (Blu-ray) or DVD

Naturally, Camille 2000 is based on Alexandre Dumas fil's novel, Camille, which told the tale of two star-crossed lovers - Marguerite and Armand. The names haven't been changed here but the time-frame is now set in the future, the year 2000. Amazingly, much of it does not look too dated, which is a feat other films from the era struggle to maintain through the years. Here Marguerite (Daniele Gaubert) and Armand (Nino Castelnuovo) are a couple of well-to-do folks wrestling with the powerful emotions of falling in love and staying in love within the elegant aristocratic society of Italy. Armand truly has his handful with the stunning party girl but he’s determined to make her his one and only lady. I've really only seen The Image, Score and Metzger's adult film offerings so I can't completely comment on the director's entire filmography but Camille 2000 is in my estimation one of his most thoughtful films.

Metzger's interpretation of Armand and Marguirite's tumultuous love affair is as pleasing to the eye as it is the heart. Camille 2000 has plenty of moments that will please Metzger fans - especially those looking for skin. He is the "Aristocrat of the Erotic" you know. The various loves scenes are so stylistically photographed that you forget you’re watching a film momentarily – instead taking in erotic painting at a gallery (just keep your pants up, mister!). It’s that convincing. One love scene has Margurite and Armand having sex that’s reflected off a series of mirrors. It's baffling to ponder the technique involved in achieving just that one scene.

The performances by Castelnuovo and Gaubert are very genuine. This just makes the story that much more effective than just being routine a soft-core feature. This story is more of a romantic drama than anything - and a well-made one at that. Camille 2000 isn’t as explicit as Score, The Image or any of Metzger’s adult films but it’s still heavy on the eroticism. Some simple touches that I noticed were the VERY “showy” dresses Gaubert and other lovely actresses wore in the feature. These see through numbers left nothing to the imagination.

Cult Epics doesn't skimp in the extra feature department, they really go all out here with a few featurettes, a commentary with Metzger (Moderated by Michael Bowen), trailers and a very interesting restoration comparison. We get to see the original First Run Features release, the new transfer before restoration and then the restored transfer. There's some text to read before the scenes are shown which claim that digital noise and grain reduction were not administered in the clean-up. The difference in quality is remarkably different as the new high-definition transfer is so colorful compared to the washed-out original DVD release.

Bowen seems a perfect fit for the commentary. Cult and genre films are nothing new to the writer as he's done other very good commentaries as well as liner notes. Metzger and Bowen put together a constant flow where wealth of questions are asked to the director about production and filmmaking process of Camille 2000. Metzger brings up some interesting fact about the screenwriting process which he doesn’t appear to be fond of. Metzger preferred to adhere to the talents of Camille 2000 writer, Michael DeForest. The director’s choice to have the film take place in Italy and some of the sound differences between Camille 2000 and Dumas fil's story are also gone into detail. Not to surprisingly, Make-up and wardrobe proved to be one of the more problematic things Metzger had to deal with during production. Keeping the look of the film on par with his vision had to have caused some headaches.

Some of the other notable bonus features provided by Cult Epics on this release that may interest viewers include an On the Set of Camille 2000 and a few bonus and extended scenes from the film - a cut scene titled Syviane's Striptease and an alernate take on the memorable Cube Love Scene.

Camille 2000 is really a lovely piece of cinema that even with the almost expected Metzger touches portrays a different side to the director's talent I had yet to see. Cult Epics has given Camille 2000 the much deserved red carpet treatment in this extended Blu-ray edition of the film. Highly Recommended!


  1. Just got this disc and can't wait to delve into it. Cult Epics always does such a gorgeous job with their releases. Great review, Jeff!

  2. Thanks Heather! You will certainly dig.