Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Jean-Loup Philippe)


Writer, actor, director and artist Jean-Loup Philippe has had quite a wild career that has taken him from the stage to the screen and back again. The male star and dialogue writer of Levres de Sang, one of Jean Rollin’s most poetic films, Philippe probably could have had a more substantial film career had other interests not pulled him away.
Born in France after World War Two, Philippe recalled on the excellent interview on Encore’s Lips of Blood set that he fell into acting essentially because he felt he, “wasn’t good for anything else.” A massive understatement at best, Philippe already had a strong literary backbone thanks to his childhood surrounded by some of France’s top post-war authors. Still, acting became an essential part of his life and by the mid sixties he was forging a successful stage career for himself, with his most popular role being opposite none other than Ingrid Bergman in Tea and Sympathy.
Philippe met Rollin in the early sixties and he recalled to Encore that the two initially came together because of their mutual love of literature. Fitting then that it is the lyrical Lips of Blood that remains their major collaboration together.
Rollin’s film marked the first major screen role for Philippe, although he had already appeared in small roles in half a dozen French films, and he is quite good in the part. Projecting a fragile vulnerability and working incredibly well with the exquisite Annie Belle (acting as Annie Briand in her first major role), Philippe is one of the most memorable male stars in a Jean Rollin work.
A few film appearances followed Lips of Blood, including the infamous Le Sexe qui parle (1975) opposite Lips of Blood co-star Sylvia Bourdon but Rollin’s film marks his first and last truly important role in front of the cameras. After the film Philippe would return to the stage, now as a director, and it continues to be his passion to this day. Philippe has maintained a close relation to Rollin though and he worked with him on both Les Paumées du petit matin (1981) and an unfinished project based on a Duras story that he details in Encore’s interview.

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