Collins' dictionary of everything camp

PETER YORK ON ADS; NO 279: OLYMPUS CAMERAS

Is Dame Joan Collins a secret psycho? Has the thought that she might go tonto from time to time crossed your mind? Would you cast her as a kind of homicidal Norma Desmond, crossed with Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction?

Olympus has had this rather inspired view of JC for their new meta-commercial. The idea's all a bit noir, as we buffs say. It draws heavily on the film Sunset Boulevard - it's shot in LA for the right atmospherics - and it's got thoroughly noir music. Above all it's got a victim-as-narrator in the William Holden role.

Holden is Ralph and he's an amateur photographer. He's snapped Joan using the new Olympus with the ultra-sharp lens - an aggressive-looking little silver thing - and it's picked up her wrinkles. Crazed pro that she is, she recognises the killer camera and must have it. Thereafter the conceit is a) that she goes barmy and b) becomes a reverse stalker and ruins Ralph's life.

Joan throws herself into all this most energetically. She screams loudly; she climbs gates, ladders, tennis-netting, and slashes for England. It's a doddle for her, feisty ex-Dynasty fighter. She turns up at Ralph's workplace, she breaks into his house. More lovely noir music, more lovely slo-mo slasher shots with Joan killing the cushions. She's gotta have it.

Ralph does nice pieces to camera in his humble home explaining how the pictures weren't that bad - look, what's wrong with that - how he meant no harm and how his life has been ruined. His dog is not that sympathetic. But the cross-cuts are delicious. Joan up the gates of his compound yelling her little head off, cut to Ralph copying her. Wardrobe is clever too; Joan in snood, dark glasses and black coat is the deranged-by- grief, mid-period Lana Turner. Joan in black-lace decolletage with fishtail effect tells you how some people maintain standards in this sloppy world.

It's deeply camp, touching on all the classic Hollywood themes and symbols. It uses the Collins mythology to great effect and it's a nice example of traditional narrative product benefit demonstration, cranked up with hyper production values and terrific editing. That said, I imagine Joan's response to the high-concept theme was roughly "self-parody, schmarody ... so what, so long as they double the offer, treble the residuals and give me clearance on everything".

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