Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Willy Braque)


There is very little information online on wild man Willy Braque. The IMDB for example contains no biographical information of any kind, not even a date of birth. It also contains no information on the films Braque made himself. All that is there is a listing of nearly thirty films and television shows Braque appeared in from 1962to 1989, including the half dozen that he collaborated with Jean Rollin on.
One of the best extras on Encore's box set of The Demoniacs is a twelve minute interview with Braque from 2005. Still looking good with that same mischievous look in his eyes, Braque comes across as a straight forward man with many fond memories of his career and a good sense of humor.
Braque recalls that the first part he ever had in a film called on him to play a schizophrenic and indeed that "served (him) very well." Rollin himself would remember that Braque was "completely crazy" to Peter Blumenstock in Virgins and Vampires and Video Watchdog 31 and that "as soon as the camera's began rolling, he freaked out and couldn't go on."
Of course Braque did manage to go on and along with Rollin he worked with many splendid directors including Jose Benazeraf, Robert Hossein, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Lasse Braun, and Jess Franco. It would be his work with Jean Rollin that would be the most memorable though and in regards to the iconic director, Braque recalls in the interview that he "was sold right away" after seeing Rollin's earliest films.
Braque first worked for Rollin in Jeunes Filles Impudiques and Tout le Monde il en a deux in 1973 and 1974. He would continue working for Rollin in these more 'hidden' films throughout the seventies but it is his roles in two of Jean Rollin's major works (The Demoniacs and Lips of Blood) that are most fondly remembered.
Braque obviously cares deeply about the films of Jean Rollin and the man himself,
and this comes out in Encore's interview. Calling Rollin, "a great filmmaker" who will still be discussed, "fifty years from now", Braque also speaks of his admiration for his two time co-star Joelle Couer, his love for Jean-Jacques Renon, and calls The Demoniacs a, "classic". In fact the only reservation Braque seems to have about his time with Rollin is that the director didn't make more films like The Demoniacs as he loved the "structure and concept" of it.
Willy Braque's final film credit comes fittingly for Jose Benazeraf, the director who gave him his first job in the early sixties. A truly fascinating man, Willy Braque's work with his maverick and highly individualistic directors will be remembered for years to come.

1 comment:

Keith said...

I know so little about so anything you post about him is informative.