Thursday, September 18, 2008

Outside Submissions on Jean Rollin: Jeffrey Allen Rydell's "The Transfigured Night, a Trip to the Beach"

One hope I have for Fascination is that I might get some outside submissions from other Rollin lovers that I can post here. The lovely piece below was emailed to me from Jeffrey Allen Rydell, and he has given me his kind permission to post it here. This can originally be found here at The Mobius Film Forum and the incredible photos Jeffrey took (some of which can be seen below) can be found here at his Photobucket account.
A great big thank you to Jeffrey for allowing me to use this, and I hope it will encourage more fans to email me their thoughts, memories and reviews for possible posting here.

"The Transfigured Night, a Trip to the Beach"

Night Tide

"It’s the end of November and, as the train moves toward Normandy, it grows cold.

I arrive in Dieppe by 2pm and check into the Hotel du Plage, one of many maritime-themed accommodations sprinkled throughout the small fishing village. Backpack tossed to the bed, I head for the sea.

I’m expecting to find the familiar forlorn rows of stakes, the pocked and chalky cliff-face, the churning pull of the surf I know so well, yet have never seen. After unsteadily making my way down the rocky surface of the beach, close to the water as I can get, I realize that this is all wrong. As far as I can see, in either direction, it’s too populated, too maintained, too valued. Even the fact of the castle overlooking the town, while arresting, is wrong. This isn’t the place.

This is not Jean Rollin’s beach.

I double back to the office of tourism I had passed while looking for my hotel. There, I adopt my usual outsider affect: utterly clueless. It isn’t much of a stretch, and I find it helps with the language divide. Also helps to have plenty of things to point at. Unfortunately, I only have the map of Normandy I’ve just taken off the rack on my way in. “A beach near Dieppe”, Rollin said in Immoral Tales. How hard could it be?

The French really don’t know much about this Jean Rollin guy.

The very patient and pretty tourism lady does her best to understand what I’m after, calling superiors to ask if they know what the hell a ‘Rollinade’ is. One vaguely remembers sex-horror films like this, but had no idea any of them had been shot anywhere near here. We narrow it down to a couple of beaches (none of which turn out to be the right one in the end), and I ask for an Internet cafe – I need to re-research this.

There is exactly one place in Dieppe where the beer and bandwidth flows: the Art au Bar Cybercafe. I cold-contact Mark Jason Murray, Webmaster of Virgins & Vampires: The Official Website of Jean Rollin, to plead his assistance, and also print out some screengrabs of Rollin’s beach in hopes that someone will recognize it. The man working the Internet café thinks that it looks like the beach at Quiberville, or perhaps Varengeville …

While waiting for Mark’s reply, I head out to take stock of the town, and to find some dinner. Till now, I’ve stuck to the periphery of Dieppe, bordering the harbor and the oceanside. Now that I descend into the heart of the village, I’m surprised to find a bustling shopping vicinity, which looks just a bit like the back-streets of the Latin Quarter of Paris. There are people everywhere, and though the shops are of little interest to me, they too are plentiful. The young man at the video store (which incidentally, stocks no Rollin) thinks the beach at Pourville is what is pictured in the charcoal-contrasted printouts I show him. No one I ask has heard of Jean Rollin or his films.

I leave the crowds behind and decide to sample one of the scallop-based dishes that are said to be Dieppe’s specialty. There’s certainly no lack of brasseries, so I choose one and set to tucking in.

Upon emerging from the restaurant full and satisfied, I immediately notice the change.

It’s now nearly dark, and the happy throngs of shoppers have vanished. There’s no sign that these shops were even open recently, much less healthily patronized. The only movement on the empty, unlit streets is the slow prowling of a single police cruiser, a searchlight to the side seeking out signs of unwelcome activity. It’s all of 7pm.

I make my way back to the Internet hub, suddenly unconfident that it will be open. The cruiser paces me for a block, and concluding I present no threat, turns down a dim alley and disappears. Now there is nothing moving on the street but me. It’s become quite cold. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see two blonde twins, draped in diaphanous flows of color, appear out of the gloom and drift toward me. Maybe there’s a curfew in place to ward off just such encounters…

I reach the “Art au Bar” regrettably unmolested. It’s surprisingly still open, though empty save for the attendant. I am warned upon entering they are to close at 8. Film Fanaddict Mark has emailed me back with the answer, gleaned from an interview featurette on the recent French DVD of Lips of Blood: Pourville - an even smaller town further down the coast. A follow-up search reveals that Rollin is neither the first nor the most famous admirer of this stretch of beach. Claude Monet was very fond of the cliffs here and painted them often.

I know what I must do. In the late afternoon, I will be on the beach at Pourville as night falls all around me…"

by Jeffrey Allen Rydell, 2007.


Steve Langton said...

Beautifully written piece which takes you straight into a Rollin film. You have a real gem with this one.
I had very high hopes for this Rollin tribute but it's even better than I imagined.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Steve,
Glad you enjoyed Jeffrey's piece. I think it's really a splendid piece of work and was excited he let me post it here...thanks again.

Soukesian said...

Wonderful article! Jean Rollin's magical sense of place is a key element of his work - and a not inconsiderable advantage to a genius on a budget! I've often wondered about the ruined castles and chateux in his films. I'd love to take a tour of these locations. The fact that they are obviously real places, rather than sets or models, adds so much depth and texture. You feel that the marvels Rollin shows us might actually occur in places such as these.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much for the continuing comments on this very special piece Jeffrey wrote.

The King Of Cool said...

That was a very well written work. It definitely transports one into one of his films. I really am enjoying this blog. It would be wonderful to take a tour of the locations used in his films. I love the beauty of his films. Great job you're doing with this blog.

Will Errickson said...

Ha ha--with a little tweaking this could be a Lovecraft or Thomas Ligotti story. Excellent stuff.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith and Will...Jeffrey did a great job with this and I am happy it keeps getting such terrific reactions.