Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jean Rollin Posters: The Demoniacs (Rare French Version)

Clifford at the always excellent Zines was nice enough to send me this scan of his own rare poster design for The Demoniacs. Thanks so much Clifford for the picture, and now everyone head over to the awesome Zines.

Also, please excuse my recent slowness in posting. I am in the process of moving and am extremely busy with it. Things will hopefully be back to normal speed in the next week or so.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jean Rollin Home Video Designs: The Demoniacs

Here are several different home video designs for The Demoniacs. There are a few others I will post if I can find good scans of them.

Demoniaques DVD 2

Demoniacs DVD 4

Demoniacs DVD 5

Demoniaques DVD 1

Demoniaques DVD 3

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jean Rollin Posters: Les Demoniaques

I hope to post some alternate designs soon but, in the meantime, here is the most commonly known design for The Demoniacs.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Cinema of Jean Rollin: La Rose de fer (1973)

Perhaps no other major production in Jean Rollin's career has divided fans more than 1973's La Rose de fer. The film, known alternately as The Iron Rose and as The Crystal Rose, is seen by some as one of Rollin's greatest achievements, a haunting poetic production that shows the director at his minimal best, while others, turned off by Rollin's abandoning of his usual Vampiric elements, find the film a failure, and at best a bore. Regardless of one's opinion of the work, two things are for certain, The Iron Rose is one of Jean Rollin's most personal projects, and its failure in 1973 changed the direction of his career drastically.

Jean Rollin was looking for a change in early 1973 after a string of films cornered him into being known as just a maker of erotic vampire films. He recalled to Peter Blumenstock in the pages of Video Watchdog and Virgins and Vampires that, "it was very important for (him) to make a very serious, profound film, far away from the softcore stuff" he had become infamous for. He would go onto to recall that The Iron Rose began life as short story he published earlier in a French publication and, like Rollin's best work, the film retains that strong literary backbone throughout its extremely slim running time.

The Iron Rose, which Rollin admitted to Blumenstock was destined to be a "commercial disaster" from the outset, was financed completely by the ambitious filmmaker even though he knew he, "would never get (the money) back." The fact that Rollin was risking complete financial ruin with a project destined for critical and popular failure makes him a brave, admirable and downright inspiring figure in an industry known for its greed and all around obsession on the dollar.

Of course, Jean Rollin is a smart man and a deal he made before beginning the four week production schedule on The Iron Rose eased his financial troubles but it did cause a shift in his filmmaking career. Rollin admitted to Blumenstock that, "with a safety net in mind" he accepted a deal with Impex Films to, "direct six or seven hardcore films in the next couple of years" under the Gentil and Xavier pseudonyms. So essentially, Rollin was willing to possibly sacrifice the next few years of his artistic life for The Iron Rose, which he told Blumenstock was a project he, "loved very much" and that it was far and away his, "most personal effort."

The Iron Rose is among the most minimal modern films one could possibly imagine. Outside of an opening party sequence and a few scattered one scene appearances throughout the work, the film only features two characters. The storyline, centering on two young lovers finding themselves lost in a huge expansive old cemetery, is so spare that it is nearly non-existent. In his introduction to the film in Virgins and Vampires Rollin admitted that what interested him about the film was the notion of, "a woman's dramatic self-destruction", and that ultimately it was, "a dark and desperate film." Less a successful modern narrative film and more of a poignant tragic poetic work more akin to silent cinema, The Iron Rose is a remarkable work that grows more and more resonate with each passing year. Like Lou Reed's Berlin, that also came out in 1973, The Iron Rose is a work made by an artist not looking to satisfy the time it is in, but is instead looking to transcend it.

Shot in the near deserted city of Amiens, production on The Iron Rose was fraught with difficulties. Rollin had problems throughout the shoot with male star Hughes Quester and was never fully happy with female star Francoise Pascal, even though she finally turns in one of the greatest performances in any Jean Rollin film. The cemetery Rollin chose proved to be an inspired choice though and he recalled in Virgins and Vampires that he, "fun shooting in the cemetery. Wherever we put the camera we immediately found an angle" and that, "a sense of depth was created in the environment of tombs and old iron crosses." He also pointed out that the film proved to be perfect for regular collaborator Jean-Jacques Renon who found the work like, "an animated painting."

While the film features basically only Quester and Pascal, a few familiar Rollin actors pop up. Michele Delesalle can be briefly seen and Requiem for a Vampire co-star Mireille Dargent appears playing what very well might be the ghost of her character in Requiem. Rollin himself also pops ups in a cameo as does regular behind the scenes collaborator Nathalie Perrey, delivering a performance Rollin recalled as very 'moving'. Regarding Nathalie's tearful performance, Rollin pointed out that the tears were apparently for real as she, "had just learned of (French actor) Rene Chauffard’s death" and the film's dedication to him reflects this fact.

Rollin completed his masterful film within the four week shooting schedule and decided to present it to the public at the 2nd Annual Convention of the Fantastique in Paris in mid 1973. Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs wrote on the film's disastrous reception in their essential book Immoral Tales. The film historian's wrote, "The place was packed with French Horror fans" and that Rollin knew he was in trouble when, "The film had hardly begun before the walk-outs commenced. Pretty soon it was obvious that he had a disaster on his hands." The problems didn't end with the intital screening as the critics had their knives sharpened for Rollin and that, "Cinematographe recounted how both he and his film had been roundly booed by the audience, in a way that the writer had never seen a director booed before." Tohill and Tombs went on to write that, "Rollin was devastated" and, "for the next few years Rollin was unable to find backers for any of his personal projects."

I must admit that the more I revisit The Iron Rose, the closer it comes to becoming my favorite Jean Rollin film. It is technically the most imperfect of his early works, with several continuity problems plaguing it, but despite these relatively minor issues I find the film to be an extraordinary and powerful work fueled by Rollin's unbelievable dedication and artistic skill, Jean-Jacques Renon's bold lighting, the eerie and striking score of Pierre Raph, and the strange and quite majestic leading performance of Francoise Pascal. Rollin's film of, "a passionate love that can not be found" is one of his most daring and is admittedly not for everyone. I suspect though that the absolute heart and spirit of Jean Rollin as an artist can be found in the sequences of Francoise Pascal alone in this film, deliriously lost and entranced by something from the past...something that we perhaps cannot see, but that Jean Rollin is able to make us feel.

The Iron Rose has unfortunately not been given the special edition treatment awarded to many of Jean Rollin's other key works. It is available from Redemption in the US in a fairly solid if unspectacular print, and several European versions are out as well, although none of them to my knowledge feature any real film specific extras.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Françoise Pascal, Part Two)

Francoise Pascal 3

The career of one of Jean Rollin’s most beguiling leading ladies has been an adventurous one that has taken her from being in the center of Swinging London in the mid sixties, to cult status as a model and actress in the seventies, to finally finding solace as a humanitarian dedicated to helping the under-privileged and elderly.
Françoise Pascal was born on the Island of Mauritius in October of 1949. Educated first in Paris and then later in London, Françoise’s striking and distinctive good looks began to get her noticed as a teenager in the mid sixties. She landed a gig dancing on England’s famed Top of the Pops soon after, and became a favorite of the BBC’s and many viewers who tuned in each week to watch the show.
The Top of the Pops gig led to a blossoming modeling career and interest from many film producer’s for the young Pascal and in 1968 she made a brief appearance as herself in Jean-Luc Godard’s ferociously original Rolling Stones feature, One Plus One.
Françoise’s first narrative feature arrived at around the same time Godard’s docu-drama was shocking and alienating audiences in 1968 and it couldn’t have been any different. Pete Walker’s School For Sex gave Françoise a small but memorable role that highlighted both her sex appeal and comedic skills, two gifts she would continue to use to great effect throughout her carrer.
After an appearance in Norman J. Warren’s Loving Feeling in 1969, Françoise had a banner year in 1970 when she appeared in a scene-stealing role in Roy Boulting’s funny There’s a Girl in My Soup opposite Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn. Françoise also turned many a head when she appeared on the cover and as a Pet of the Month in a 1970 issue of Penthouse Magazine, where Amnon Bar-Tur photographed her. The tasteful spread became one of the decade’s most popular for the controversial Bob Guccioni publication, and it solidified Françoise Pascal as one of the most memorable beauties of the early seventies.
After an injury sustained in 1971, Françoise took a break from the big screen and returned to British television throughout the next few years. In 1973 it was rumored that Kirk Douglas personally offered her a part in an upcoming project he was working on, but Françoise turned him down as her interest had turned her to an intriguing film set almost entirely in a cemetery.

Producer Sam Selsky is reportedly the person who introduced Françoise Pascal to Jean Rollin for The Iron Rose, and while Pascal was initially not what Rollin had in mind for the leading role, the collaboration would turn out to be an inspired one. As the nameless girl who becomes lost in and then entranced by the seemingly endless cemetery in one of Rollin’s most peculiar and brilliant films, Françoise Pascal is absolutely inspired and it is hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Working with a seemingly total abandonment, and with a poetic grace, Françoise would help make The Iron Rose one of the dark horse candidates as Jean Rollin’s best film for not a small number of fans.

Francoise Pascal 4

Françoise Pascal would all but abandon the big screen after The Iron Rose, with just a few exceptions, and worked almost exclusively in British television before her retirement in the mid eighties. Her most famous role for British audiences is her two-year stint on Mind Your Language, and her memorable work on the cult comedy continues to bring her new fans each year.
Reportedly very happy and currently living back in England, Françoise Pascal has worked within a charity organization for the past decade or so designed to help the elderly and other people in need. While her career in film is behind her, one would hope that if ever approached for a special edition DVD of The Iron Rose, Françoise Pascal might share her memories on what stands as her most mysterious and beguiling performance.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Francoise Pascal Part 1)

I will be posting a full tribute to The Iron Rose star Francoise Pascal in the next day or so. In the meantime, I thought fans of Pascal and the film might get a kick out of looking at some screen shots from Francoise's second film, Norman J. Warren's Loving Feeling from 1969. Warren's odd film features Francoise in a few scenes as a character only referred to as 'the model' but she proves to be quite unforgettable.

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Hughes Quester)

In a career covering nearly four decades, prolific French actor Hughes Quester has tallied up an impressive sixty or so films with directors ranging from Eric Rohmer to Krzysztof Kieslowski. For Jean Rollin fans though Hughes Quester will always be known best as actor Pierre DuPont, the young man who co-starred with haunting Francoise Pascal in The Iron Rose.
Quester was born in early August of 1948. His first film role came as a bit part in 1969 with William Klein’s Mr. Freedom, an ambitious film starring Delphine Seyrig and Serge Gainsbourg (a man who would play an important part in Quester’s career down the road).
Quester would continue working as a bit player in films throughout the next few years before landing his first substantial role in director Yannick Bellon’s Quelque part quelqu'un in 1972 (a film finally released in the United States in 1979 as Somewhere, Someone).
Some television work would follow for Quester before he would land what has turned out to be one of his most memorable roles, as the nameless title character in Jean Rollin’s Le Rose de Fer. Sadly Quester and Rollin did not have a good working relationship, a fact detailed by Rollin in this interview with Peter Blumenstock that can be found in Video Watchdog 31 and Virgins and Vampires:

“I had a lot of problems with the lead actor, Hughes Quester. He didn’t like me, which was quite a problem, because there are only two persons in the film, so we had to work together all the time. This eventually led him to taking his name off the film, so now, Hughes Quester is credited as Pierre Dupont.”

Regardless of the problems behind the scenes, Quester is fine in his role as the doomed nameless young man, although few would argue that The Iron Rose is talented Francoise Pascal’s film all the way. Perhaps this is something Quester sensed while shooting the film. Whatever the problems were between Rollin and Quester, The Iron Rose has survived much longer than most of the other films the young actor shot in this period.
Quester continued to work steadily after his time with Rollin, including a solid turn for Serge Gainsbourg in 1975's audacious Je t’aime moi non plus opposite Jane Birkin and Joe Dallesandro. Many films and television roles followed before Quester struck cinematic gold in 1990 with his role as Igor in Eric Rohmer’s masterful A Tale of Springtime.
Quester would continue his late period resurgence with a role in Kieslowski’s incredible Three Colors: Blue in 1993 and in 2006 he would be awarded the distinguished Commander of Arts and Letters title from France for his long and noteworthy career.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jean Rollin Home Video Designs: The Iron Rose

Here are a few DVD designs for The Iron Rose.

Iron Rose German DVD

Iron Rose DVD 1

Iron Rose DVD 2

Iron Rose DVD 4

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jean Rollin Wallpapers: The Iron Rose

These are the sharpest quality wallpapers I could make for The Iron Rose with the DVD I have. My apologies that they are not as sharp as the ones I have been posting here.

Iron Rose Wallpaper 1

Iron Rose Wallpaper 6

Iron Rose Wallpaper 7

Iron Rose Wallpaper 8

Iron Rose Wallpaper 9

Iron Rose Wallpaper 11

Iron Rose Wallpaper 13

Also, a quick note as someone asked me the best way to access these. Click on them and this will take you to Zooomr's site where I keep my photos. From there you will have to click a couple of more times to get to the wallpaper size version (just select the largest size option in the right hand corner) and from there just set it as your background. Thanks!