Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin – Review
By Roger Crow
I’ve got a soft spot for French directors who like to craft, let’s say, unusual worlds. Luc Besson, for example, is an extraordinary film maker whose movies range from the stunning (Leon), to the visually dazzling (The Fifth Element). Then there are film makers like Jean Rollin – cult directors whose work exists in a twilight world of cult fandom.
Rollin’s offerings never achieved blockbuster status, nor were they meant to, but as a Gallic creator of dreamlike horror, he was in a league of his own.
A few years ago I had a great chat with Francoise Pascale about The Iron Rose, arguably his greatest work when she was at her most stunning. And yes, she was pretty jaw-dropping in Mind Your Language, the UK sitcom which made her name in the 1970s, but TIR is a work of art. Atmospheric, weird, sexy, fascinating with a subtext not apparent at first viewing, and yet thanks to this new documentary, Ms Pascale puts the film, and Rollin’s work in context.
My love of Rollin’s work stems back decades when a mate lent me one of his vampire flicks involving a couple of clowns. It was possibly The Shiver of the Vampires, which didn’t boast at the time the artwork by Philippe Druillet, one of my favourite artists who deserves a documentary in his own right. He’s also mentioned in this rather straightforward tribute to the Gallic horror master. Just a shame it’s all so academic. The talking heads are terrific, offering intelligent, often beautifully phrased assessments of Rollin, and the narrator is pretty good too.
But the whole thing deserves a little more oomph, like one of those late night Channel 4 docs about Eurocult filmmakers which used to appear back in the day.
Okay, not all docs about cult filmmakers need to feature rapid editing and pithy soundbites, but a mid ground between this offering and something with a little more va va voom would do nicely. Merci.