Many artists are not appreciated till after they have long passed away or society catches up with their ideas. Dying is not a prerequisite to fame since garbage is still garbage. In the case of the singular Jean Rollin, you have a double-edged sword which in documentary Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin (2022) tells well.
Jean Rollin was one of the later to become Eurocult cinema’s most misunderstood personalities. These creators imbue their personalities in their work, unlike mainstream directors. Mainstream will say they create unique stories or camera angles with the full knowledge that it all comes down to one from a studio. The Diabolique films team of Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger who Directed, Wrote & Produced this roughly two-hour documentary has done a solid job without being academically dry.
Orchestrator of Storms (2022) features lips and interviews with key people in Rollin’s past. The fact that he was raised among French intellectual elites, thanks to his mother Denise’s friendship with figures such as Maurice Blanchot, Georges Bataille, Jean Cocteau, and others who would go on in the world of theatre, film and art. Interestingly the aspect of the more worldly palatable French New Wave film movement is put in perspective as an opposition to the surrealist element that was going at the same time plus pepper in the social upheavals such as the 1968 student strike that evolved into something more. The atmosphere was ripe with new ideas to be formed and Jean Rollin was in the middle of this,
The film works well blending interviews with Jean’s family, including son Serge, and close family friend Véronique D-Travers. Rollin had to constantly fight for funding over the dominant French New wave which itself had to battle for money. Later Jean Rollin fell into ill health and was forced to take jobs beneath one yet for the money as in the case of working in the more, new permissive world of legalized Porn.
Jean Rollin was also a writer of books as well in the grand tradition of French literature and subversive tales. These and other factors plus interviews with stars like Brigitte Lahaie and others bring together the forgotten lonely world that Rollin worked. The drive to be recognized even within his own country was strong and now Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin (2022) brings it to perspective.
Rollins’s various vampire films along with what was known La Morte Vivante (1982) or the English: The Living Dead Girl which at the time were done in the genre world dominated by Hammer studios were in their decline. The symbolism, the eroticism that was only hinted at by Hammer due to censorship is shown in its full glory of evil, blood and sex. The Vampire becomes not unlike the sensual work of another French sensualist, the subversive figure Roger Vadim who produced a print anthology and the films Spirits of the Dead (1968) and Blood and Roses (1960).
Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin (2022) is a brisk tour of the work of Jean Rollin and the people who fell within his orbit. Not to be missed at all for the sumptuous detail in visuals, and interviews with some genuine potent moments of the human side of an artist who was misunderstood. A very different and refreshing look is brought out in this film that will pull you into its narrative of the singular world of Jean Rollin.
Review by Terry Sherwood
ARROW have released Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, to its subscription-based platform available to subscribers in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland.