Henry Chapier is a noted French journalist, film critic, and television personality. During the late 1960's and early 1970's, he also had a brief stint as a filmmaker, producing a total of four films. Two of these, Un été américain and Salut, Jerusalem, were documentaries, while the other two, Sex Power and Amore, are abstract allegorical works. In addition, three of these films (Sex Power, Salut, Jerusalem, and Amore) are notable in part for their soundtracks, which were early efforts by noted composer Vangelis, best known for his scores to such films as Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner. Unfortunately for Chapier, none of his films were given a very wide release or much promotion, and soon faded into obscurity. It was not until around 2009, when the French National Audiovisual Institute, or INA, located copies of the films and re-mastered them for general release, that any of them saw the light of day again. Nowadays, Chapier's entire filmography is publically available on DVD, with Un été américain and Sex Power being released in 2010, and Salut, Jerusalem and Amore being released in 2012
Un été américain
Chapier's first film, released in 1969, was Un été américain (French for "An American Summer"), a documentary on a group of young Californian militants affiliated with the Black Panthers. In his film, Chapier evocates solidarity for the militants, and while he does not directly question the group's goals, he questions their methods. The documentary features footage of the protests that accompanied the trial of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, as well as examinations of the militants' lifestyle intercut with interviews with the group's members.
Chapier's second, and probably best-known, film was Sex Power, released in 1970 and starring Alain Noury and Jane Birkin. Despite the title, Sex Power is not a soft-core porn film as was frequently believed by film historians prior to its rediscovery, but rather an abstract allegorical drama about the peace movement of the late 1960's and why it was doomed to fail. It was Chapier's first collaboration with Vangelis, and as such was the director's only film to include an official soundtrack album. When shown at the 1970 San Sebastian Film Festival, at which Fritz Lang was reportedly one of the judges, the film won the Silver Shell prize. These two factors may have prevented it from falling into total obscurity like Chapier's other features.
For his third filmmaking effort, released in 1972, Chapier directed Salut, Jerusalem (French for "Hail Jerusalem"), a documentary on the people of Israel and in particular the titular capital city. Using a technique employed in his other films, Chapier makes the location essentially the main character, while the interview subjects serve an almost symbolic purpose in the film. Due to its short length of under 30 minutes, it is unknown if Salut, Jerusalem was ever shown theatrically, or whether it was only broadcast on television.
Chapier's final film, Amore, was released in 1973 and stars Daniel Quenaud and Sonia Petrovna. Much like Sex Power, Amore is also an abstract allegorical drama, this time about the decline of the city of Venice and the various attempts throughout history to "rescue" it. Perhaps the film's most striking feature, aside from Vangelis' soundtrack, is its opening and ending credits sequences, which are presented over a series of surrealist paintings of Venice. Not much is known about Amore's release history aside from it being made available on DVD in 2012.