Camille 2000

| June 28, 2011

Camp is sometimes synonymous with cult, but camp is also part of what makes cult material. Even If all the right people conspire to make a film with the best of intentions, the end result somehow comes out all wrong but is ironically very enjoyable to watch. This is why we call it camp. An excessively hedonistic end to the 60s allowed much experimentation in independent films and filmmakers took every opportunity to expose the human body and de-sanctify it. Camille 2000 (1969) is updated adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas’ novel “La Dame aux Cammelias” also known as Camille.
In 1936, Greta Garbo played the unholy and self-destructive courtesan who sacrifices her one true love because he squanders his fortune to be with her and his father disapproves of her lifestyle. The story of Camille could only exist among a wealthy class, so when Armand Duval (Nino Castelnuovo) arrives from France to Rome on holiday, his father tracks him down and ruins the romance between he and Margeurite Gautier (Daniele Gaubert). In this world lavish luxury, Armand skates through parties, mansions, and ballrooms full of drugs, booze, sheer blouses, and inflatable furniture.
The cultural taboos in the George Cukor version starring Garbo no longer apply to Metzger’s Camille. Metzger’s background in importing adult motion pictures from Europe didn’t influence him to make pornographic films, but he is motivated by erotica.
The title, Camille 2000, has a pornographic ring to it, however. Metzger straddles the boundary between sex and story, reality and fantasy. The film begins from behind a camera seen filming a crowd stumbling down monumental stairs. We see Margeurite and her raucous friends among the intoxicated crowd in the beginning, but then at the end of the film, it is Armand and a boisterous crowd stumbling down the steps. Metzger appears to be asking his audience, will Armand become a non-committal playboy as Margeurite was a courtesan? Or is Metzger saying that men and women are equally capable of stealing hearts and then breaking them.
UCLA Film & Television Archive honored Metzger at the Billy Wilder Theater with a retrospective of seven of his quintessential films including Carmen, Baby (1967), Therese and Isabelle (1968), Camille 2000, The Lickerish Quartet (1970), Little Mother (1973), Score (1974), and The Image (1975). Many Metzger films were shot in Italy where his creative freedom was obviously greater. They have the appeal of being English-speaking and filmed in a conventional classical Hollywood narrative style. Camille 2000 is now on sale on DVD or Blu-ray from Cult Epics.

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