Monday, May 25, 2015
Flash forward nearly six years later and Redemption (partnered with Kino Lorber) has re-released The Escapees on Blu-ray in a terrific new HD print remastered from the original 35 mm negative that trumps that original DVD in every way. Finally we can see one of Rollin's most distinctive and unique films the way it was intended and the results are, at times, startling.
Few filmmakers used colors the way Jean Rollin did, and now with this new HD print we can see that this fact carried through with The Escapees. Whereas Redemption's original DVD had a flat and greyish look about it, with this new disc the colors really pop the way we know that Rollin intended. The improvement is apparent from the get-go (look at the way the dewy green grass present in the opening moments draws the viewer in immediately) and the disc's color palette stays wonderfully consistent throughout. The film's haunting and marvelous ice-skating sequence feels especially alive and vibrant now on this new disc. While I still have issues with the film and don't consider it among Rollin's finest works, I enjoyed it much more via Redemption's new Blu-ray than I ever have before. Back in 2009 I wrote that it is, "Stylistically as far away from his early dazzling Jean-Jacques Renon lighted works as possible, The Escapees is a cold and somber film" and, while I still agree partially with that, this new release shows that The Escapees is a much more electrifying and vibrant work than I had previously realized. There are still major problems with the film's final act, that not even this sharp print can help, but it isn't the "disaster" that Rollin once called it all. He was much more on point when he noted in Virgins and Vampires that “certain scenes emerged” amidst the flaws as there is an undeniably hypnotic and haunting quality about the film that is unique to Rollin’s work.
The problem's with the films soundtrack have no also been corrected in this new HD version and this greatly benefits the fine if spare piano based score from frequent Rollin composer Philippe D’Aram. The Escapees remains a frustratingly inconsistent picture but it has moments of greatness. As Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs noted in their wonderful Immoral Tales, "what is good in (The Escapees) is very good."
This exciting new Blu-ray of The Escapees (which thankfully ports over the wonderful "One Day In Paris: An Interview With Jean Rollin" from the older DVD) can be ordered at Amazon. More information can also be found here.
-Jeremy Richey, 2015-