Marguerite (Daniele Gaubert) is a party girl, first seen living it up with two guys all through the night and into the next morning, by way of a heady mix of pills, booze and fast cars.

"Do you ever come down?" one fellow reveller asks her. "Not if I can help it," comes the reply.

While they’re busy partying, they don’t notice the private plane flying over their heads. It’s carrying Armand (Nino Castelnuovo), travelling into Rome for the first time since he was a kid, to do business with his incredibly wealthy father (Massimo Serato).

The first thing Armand wants to do upon his arrival is meet up with old pal Gastion (Roberto Bisacco). They hotfoot it into the city centre for an afternoon of fun. This entails whisking a woman out of her convertible car and arranging to go and see her perform at a local opera later that evening.

In the Opera house foyer, Gastion announces his intention: to find a woman for his friend. He points out a few eligible femmes in the audience, but only one catches Armand’s eye – Marguerite. Gastion warns Armand away, advising that she is bad news. But Armand is well and truly smitten.

Gastion finally agrees to introduce his pal to this good-time gal, and they attend an afternoon social gathering for this very purpose. While Gastion busies himself trying to get laid by anything that moves, Armand enjoys a relaxed walk around the party with Marguerite on his arm, slowly but surely falling in love.

Armand gets a first taste of what Marguerite is all about when he goes back to her hippy pad to attend a party she’s staging. Cue brilliant white interiors, mirrored walls and lots of drunken dancing to trippy music.

And still, he wants to see more.

The pair grow closer even though it’s apparent that Camille is trying desperately to retain a level of emotional detachment. She claims to have never been in love, and seemingly wants to keep things that way. And yet, she’s certainly spirited away when it comes to the pair’s elongated bouts of love-making, amplified by their naked flesh reflected through her several mirrors ...

The appearance of Armand’s disapproving father upsets the apple cart, despite Camille’s actions (pawning jewellery to keep her beau comfortable in her residence) suggesting she truly does care for his son.

But the father is not all Camille has to worry about. Her wild lifestyle covers a dark secret, one that ties her to an inevitably tragic fate ...

Keenly photographed and exhibiting attractive production values throughout, CAMILLE 2000 is always good to look at. The attractive cast suit their impressively designed sets perfectly, and director Radley Metzger films with a stately elegance at all times.

The sex scenes are soft-core, and decidedly tame by today’s standards. But they retain an erotic quality which is missing from a lot of contemporary cinema. And Gaubert has a great body.

The plot is simple enough, and is adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ novel "The Lady of the Camelias". Anyone who’s familiar with that will know that there is no happy ending. However, Metzger retains an upbeat energy throughout, despite a sprawling running time and occasionally leisurely pace.

Performances are likeable and spunky, especially from the leads. The real stars of the show though are Ennio Guarnieri’s gorgeous cinematography and Piero Piccioni’s iconic score.

Overall, CAMILLE 2000 demonstrates Metzger’s qualities as a director of stylish, arty erotica. It looks understandably dated now (it was released theatrically in 1969), but is by equal turns sexy, surreal and handsome enough to engage throughout. Whether it stands up to his later works, be it THE LICKERISH QUARTET, SCORE, THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN or beyond, is debatable – but it’s a highly enjoyable watch regardless.

Arrow are giving the film its domestic release debut in the UK. To celebrate this belated occasion, they’ve furnished it with a very welcome dual format release – a 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. The Blu-ray was made available to review.

It contains the uncensored director’s cut of the film, running at a complete 130 minutes in length. It’s presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and has been 16x9 enhanced. There are minor specks and damage on the print used but this is understandable considering this film’s age and the fact that restoring something of such niche interest (especially for the UK market) would prove to be commercial suicide.

Having said that, the 1080p HD transfer – an MPEG4-AVC file on the disc - is a very good one. The print is generally clean and despite noticeable grain we get strong detail throughout. Colours are at times alarmingly bold, contrast is satisfying, flesh-tones seem accurate: it’s a noticeable step-up from the DVD Cult Epics released a couple of years back (I never saw their Blu-ray release, but I suspect the feature presentation is identical to what I saw here).

English audio comes in an equally agreeable LPCM stereo mix. Optional English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing are easily readable at all times.

The disc opens to an animated main menu page. Even this is hot. Pop-up menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the film via 12 chapters.

Extras on the disc are the same as those provided on the aforementioned US Cult Epics release:

They begin with an audio commentary track from Metzger, moderated by Michael Bowen. It’s an informative and engaging chat, benefiting from an obvious rapport between the two. Metzger has a great memory for detail and huge respect for his cast, while Bowen prompts well with all the right questions. From discussing the source novel to shooting locations and pointing out the newly restored footage, this makes for a great listen.

Metzger also commentates through 30 minutes of enlightening "On the set" footage, interspersed with brief clips from the film. It’s another fascinatingly detailed account of the film’s making, complete with exact dates etc.

"The Restoration of Camille 2000" is a 6-minute featurette containing screen comparisons between the original DVD transfer, the new transfer before it was restored, and the final new restoration. The difference is remarkable, both in terms of video clarity and audio (no lip-synching issues in the new transfer!).

"Cube Love Scene" is a ‘newly discovered’ 2-minute alternate scene that plays in 16x9 widescreen.

"Sylvia’s Complete Striptease" is a soft-focus behind-the-scenes recording of the film’s sexy strip dance routine in full. It runs for 3 minutes.

The film’s original 2-minute theatrical trailer follows: a scratchy affair which plays as a slide show set to Piccioni’s charming theme tune.

Finally, we get trailers for two other Metzger titles also available from Arrow Video: THE LICKERISH QUARTET and SCORE.

This set also comes with reversible sleeve artwork and a booklet containing liner notes by Robin Bougie. Unfortunately, neither were made available for review purposes.

An enjoyable film then, which also finds its place as a historically important chapter in the story of erotic cinema. It gets treated to a nice presentation here. A fine set from Arrow.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Arrow Video
Region 2/B
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review