Camping Cosmos  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Camping Cosmos is the second comedy in the film trilogy The Sexual Life of the Belgians, starring Claude Semal, Lolo Ferrari, and Noël Godin, directed by Jan Bucquoy. The movie's tagline is: Revolution, football, beer and frites (French fries). It is an unconventional movie centered on the sexual habits of Belgians. Cosmos refers to the eternity of heaven in full contrast with this little camp site where so many people live together with their problems and limited view of the world. It also refers to the Russian cosmonauts (Russian national anthem) who explored space but who as communists did not believe in an afterworld. Is there any hope for a better life on this planet at the camping?


We see Belgians on holiday in a caravan park at the beach in the year 1986 with the first danger signals of Aids. The purpose of the campsite entertainer is to bring culture to the common people; but they are not interested when the play of Bertolt Brecht Mother Courage and Her Children is shown. Then he launches a beauty contest, a song contest and a boxing match between the challenger of Cassius Clay and the former European champion... The story goes in a fast tempo because the editor was handling the first digital equipment at that time (so called clip-generation). The first kiss, the first sex goes very rapidly and the camera is harassing the secret life of the habitants of this colourful camping.


The movie is a rare surrealist cult movie which uses the technique of Verfremdungseffekt which means that the spectator is not supposed to feel sympathy for whatever feelings of the protagonists in the movie. Their sex life is of no interest, how peculiar it may be: sodomy, homosexuality, masturbation, rape, sado-masochism, sex with dogs and dolls, prostitution... The illusion is created that it is all far away and not related to us. The only artist never speaks (=the autistic painter). So there is also the idea that common people on vacation do not care about what is happening in the "real world", they live on an island at this period of summertime, isolated from everything and everybody. Their Paradise Regained (= free sex and entertainment, sport, beerdrinking and frites in "abondance", sea & sun, no working schedule; Eve (Bible) being the main character), only lasts for the four weeks of their holidays. After the summer begins the normal life of daily working, monotony and suffering in the grey cities of Southern Belgium: (Charleroi, La Louvière, Borinage etc...).


Camping Cosmos is a parody on the classical beach party films. Lolo Ferrari coming out of the sea as an Aphrodite with the song of Vera Lynn (Land of Hope and Glory: Belgium?) and having her first orgasm with the comic Tintin in the Congo, has been focused as a central figure but the movie handles all characters with the same interest. (In this movie she has the looks of Brigitte Bardot). Camping Cosmos has a correct balance between an astonishing script and the development of the psychology of the different caravanowners. The influence of Jacques Lacan is imminent: Sex is the little Death. Arno Hintjens and Jan Decleir as a homosexual couple are really funny. Noël Godin as the eternal pie-thrower plays a convincing Pierre Mertens. The protest of the younger generation (Eve and her boyfriend) refers to Traité de savoir-vivre à l'usage des jeunes générations by Raoul Vaneigem. The citations of Louis Scutenaire and the détournement publicitaire refer to surrealism (Marcel Mariën).

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