By Chris Hammond
Directors: Dima Ballin, Kat Ellinger
Writers: Dima Ballin, Kat Ellinger
Starring: Howard S. Berger, Véronique Djaouti, David Hinds
Production company: Diabolique Films
There are many filmmakers that have cult status, but none are as overlooked and under-appreciated as Jean Rollin. Co-writers/co-directors Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger’s documentary Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin helps fans of films rediscover Eurocult cinema’s one-of-a-kind visionaries.
Jean Rollin’s films are one part sexploitation and one part horror. The stories were often unusual and dreamlike. This, along with the audience not knowing what genre Rollin’s film falls under, would leave him in a category of his own.
The film follows Rollin’s life starting with his childhood in France. His parents separated early on, and Jean would live with his mother. Rollin credits his mother for his “dada surrealist influence” on his work. Much more than this, the film shows that his mother was the most important influence on how he formed his own views on the nature of life, death and love. Although Rollin suffered from an illness as a youth (which enticed his mother to move them both to the Alps), his love of cinema and comic strips would also heavily influence his future works.
It was Capitaine Fracasse, a 1942 French-Italian historical adventure film that would have Rollin find his career path. At 15, Rollin receives a typewriter which sees him write many short stories and screenplays. Throughout the 1950s, he got familiar with all aspects of making a film, working on sound, editing and poster design.
His own films works incorporate vampires, nudity, horror imagery and a very meagre budget. These films, like Le Viol du Vampire (The Rape of the Vampire) never caught an audience at the time as they were too different. France filmgoers at the time would criticize his films, and he would never be on the radar of an English-speaking audience until the 1990s when the movies would hit home video cassettes. Rental stores surely played a massive part in the discovery of Rollin’s films. Most of my discovery of foreign films began pursuing the International rental aisle at my local store.
Jean Rollin was a visual artist like no other. I am one who never discovered him during his 5-decade career in films. Comic-like props mixed with nude actresses in obscure film locations are psychedelic visually, but they don’t always make a coherent film.
Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin is an in-depth look at a very underappreciated filmmaker. If nothing else, the documentary shows why Jean Rollin is worth exploring. Many films that fall under the exploitation genre don’t get the same recognition as mainstream ones. It is quite a shame because these films are art and still need the consideration they deserve. This documentary celebrates an artist that needs to be celebrated worldwide.
Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin
Color, 1080p HD Widescreen (1.77:1)
DTS HD Master Audio