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Author Topic: The Jean Rollin Thread  (Read 4270 times)

Offline I_Drink_Your_Blood

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The Jean Rollin Thread
« on: July 05, 2013, 10:45:08 PM »

Jean Michel Rollin Roth Le Gentil (3 November 1938 15 December 2010) was a French film director, actor, and novelist best known for his work in the fantastique genre such as the vampire film Le Viol du Vampire (1968) and the first French gore film Les Raisins de la Mort (1978).

He was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine (now Hauts-de-Seine), France to Claude Rollin, an actor and theatre director, who went by the stage name "Claude Martin", and Denise Rollin-Le Gentil, thus being born into an artistically inclined family. His half-brother was actor Olivier Rollin.

He had a passion for cinema from an early age. He saw his first film during the second World War, it was Capitaine Fracasse, a 1942 film directed by Abel Gance. Jean decided he want to make films when he grew up; his father, being a theatre actor, was a heavy influence on him. During his teens, he developed an obsession for American serials and read comic books. These serials were an obvious influence on him as a teenager. When he was 16, he found a job at Les Films de Saturne, he was there to help write invoices, and earned himself some money, and of course wanted to be involved in cinema. They specialized in creating opening and closing credits and short cartoons, but real films were also shot, and industrial shorts and documentaries were also made. Jean was part of the crew in a short documentary about Snecma, a big factory in France which built motors and planes. He arranged the tracking shots, laid the tracks, checked the electricity, and helped the cameraman. When Jean did his military service for the French army, he worked as an editor in the cinema department alongside Claude Lelouch. They worked on army commercials, Lelouch directed, and Jean did the montage, and also did two films, Mechanographie, a documentary, and La Guerre de Silence (The War of Silence), a real film with actors and a story. In 1958, he directed his first short film Les Amours Jaunes (The Yellow Lovers), which he directed after he left the army. He shot it on a 35mm Maurigraphe camera, and used a beach in Dieppe as his location, the same beach that was used in his later films. In 1960, Jean decided to direct his first feature film, but later abandoned the project as he had no money to finish it. His next short, Ciel de Cuivre (Sky of Copper), was directed in 1961, and was quite surreal, it told a sentimental story. He did not finish the film because he ran out of money and because it was not very good. The footage is now lost. In 1962, he was as an assistant director on the film Un Cheval pour Deux (A Horse for Two), which was not a great experience for him, and he decided to approach cinema in a different way. In the early sixties, Jean became interested in politics, and made a short documentary in 1964 called Vivre en Espagne (Life in Spain), it was about Generalissimo Francisco Franco, thirty minutes were filmed and it wasn't very good, but he risked a lot to get it made. Jean and the crew found themselves pursued by the police and just managed to make it back into France. Jean also directed a short film in 1965 called Les Pays Loins.

In 1968, Jean directed his first feature Le Viol du Vampire (The Rape of the Vampire). At the time he was still not known in the world of cinema, having only done a few short films and documentaries. The film was shot on a low budget, and consisted of two parts because it was originally supposed to be another short film, the second part was later added so that it was released as a feature film. The release of Le Viol caused public scandal and outrage, his strong inspiration of American serials did not attract viewers. It was released during the events of May 1968, and due to the riots, it was a rare theatrical production at the time. Jean himself was also threatened due to this scandal, because of this, Jean briefly decided to give up making films. His second feature La Vampire Nue (The Nude Vampire) was his first film in colour. It was mostly inspired by the 1916 film Judex, and also surrealism in general. Jean wanted to do something a little more temperate than Le Viol, a traditional mystery film. It is exactly the same kind of film as his first feature, it also has the same spirit. Le Frisson des Vampires (The Shiver of the Vampires) was heavily influenced by the trappings of the hippie movement. The film was his most successful and commercial film to date, it was made on a shoe-string budget and was a dreamlike fantasy film, a theme his films are known for. In 1971, Jean directed Requiem pour un Vampire (Requiem for a Vampire), which became one of his most successful films, and it was another low budget production, which almost took no money to make. There was no dialogue in the first forty minutes of the films, this was to simplify the story, direction and cinematography.

During his lifetime, Rollin never shot his films on video but reverted from 35mm to 16mm.

In the mid '70s, lack of regular work led the director to direct mostly pornographic films under various pseudonyms, a process he kept on going up until the '80s.

Rollin died in December 2010 after a long illness. He is buried at cemetery Le Pere Lachaise in Paris, where his second son Carel also rests.

Director Filmography
Writer Filmography

In my experience when discussing Rollin, it is apparent that he is a very 'love him or hate him' kind of director, mainly due to his trademark style, which inhabits and flows through all of his work, but none more so than his vampire-horror films. As you can probably guess, I fall into the former category, and am someone who loves his work as a director, editor, and writer. For me, Rollin was a true artist and his unique style and flair will be sorely missed.

As far as personal favourites go, Fascination, The Grapes of Death, The Iron Rose, The Nude Vampire, and The Shiver of the Vampires are some of my highlights.

I also have unashamed love for Zombie Lake (despite Rollin only being brought on board to direct at the last minute, and it therefore not really being a 'Rollin' film). It's the pure definition of cheesy trash, but I can't help but find it an enjoyable experience.

Offline woodenheart

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Re: The Jean Rollin Thread
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2013, 06:51:20 AM »
The Grapes of Death was the first film I ever saw by him. I fell in love with it.There are so many more I want to see.


Beautiful thread.

Offline splat

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Re: The Jean Rollin Thread
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2013, 08:33:12 AM »
The Living Dead Girl was mine.

Offline CountOrlok

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Re: The Jean Rollin Thread
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2013, 09:51:08 AM »
Jean Rollin - dreamlike atmosphere, naked vampire chicks, eurotrash galore.  Love it. 

Offline splat

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Re: The Jean Rollin Thread
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2013, 10:13:50 AM »
...and Zombies...with naked Euro 70s bush women  :gum:

Offline Renacimiento

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Re: The Jean Rollin Thread
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2013, 01:40:23 PM »
Excellent thread Blood. Rollin never made a big budget film, leaving us some "learning" on how to produce without economic power to be prepended over creativity. The same topics appear constantly in his films, revealing his little obsessions, but his film poetic, erotic, full of muses, always worked for me.

As preferred I have to Grapes of the dead a movie that I chosen in a past draft, Fascination and La rose de fer, but I still see many more.