Jean Rollin

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Jean Rollin
Jean rollin at his home.jpg
Jean Rollin
Born Jean Michel Rollin Roth Le Gentil
(1938-11-03)3 November 1938
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Died 15 December 2010(2010-12-15) (aged 72)
Paris, France
Occupation Director, actor, writer
Years active 1957–2010
Spouse(s) Simone Rollin (?–2010) (his death)

Jean Michel Rollin Roth Le Gentil (3 November 1938 – 15 December 2010) was a French film director, actor, and novelist best known for his work in the fantastique genre such as the vampire film Le Viol du Vampire (1968) and Fascination.[1] His films are noted for their exquisite, if mostly static, cinematography, off-kilter plot progression and poetic dialogue, their playful surrealism and recurrent use of well-constructed female lead characters. Outlandish denouments and abstruse visual symbols were trademarks throughout his 'dark fantasy' career. He was the first French director to recognise the acting capabilities of former porn actress Brigitte Lahaie, who took important roles in a number of his movies after appearing in Les Raisins de la Mort. Remarkably, in spite of their seeming high production values and precise craftsmanship, his films were made with very little money, and often under crushing deadlines.

Early life[edit]

Jean Rollin was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine (now Hauts-de-Seine), France, to Claude Rollin, an actor and theatre director, who went by the stage name "Claude Martin", and Denise Rollin-Le Gentil, thus being born into an artistically inclined family.[2] His half-brother was actor Olivier Rollin.


Early career and short films[edit]

Jean Rollin at the premiere of La Morte Vivante (1982)

Rollin had a passion for cinema from an early age. He saw his first film during the second World War, it was Capitaine Fracasse, a 1942 film directed by Abel Gance. Jean decided he wanted to make films when he grew up; his father, being a theatre actor, was a heavy influence on him. During his teens, he developed an obsession for American serials and read comic books. These serials were an obvious influence on him as a teenager. When he was 16, he found a job at Les Films de Saturne, he was there to help write invoices, and earned himself some money, and of course wanted to be involved in cinema. They specialized in creating opening and closing credits and short cartoons, but real films were also shot, and industrial shorts and documentaries were also made. Jean was part of the crew in a short documentary about Snecma, a big factory in France which built motors and planes. He arranged the tracking shots, laid the tracks, checked the electricity, and helped the cameraman. When Jean did his military service for the French army, he worked as an editor in the cinema department alongside Claude Lelouch. They worked on army commercials, Lelouch directed, and Jean did the montage, and also did two films, Mechanographie, a documentary, and La Guerre de Silence (The War of Silence), a real film with actors and a story. In 1958, he directed his first short film Les Amours Jaunes (The Yellow Lovers), which he directed after he left the army. He shot it on a 35mm Maurigraphe camera, and used a beach in Dieppe as his location, the same beach that was used in his later films. In 1960, Jean decided to direct his first feature film, but later abandoned the project as he had no money to finish it. His next short, Ciel de Cuivre (Sky of Copper), was directed in 1961, and was quite surreal, it told a sentimental story. He did not finish the film because he ran out of money and because it was not very good. The footage is now lost. In 1962, he was as an assistant director on the film Un Cheval pour Deux (A Horse for Two), which was not a great experience for him, and he decided to approach cinema in a different way. In the early sixties, Jean became interested in politics, and made a short documentary in 1964 called Vivre en Espagne (Life in Spain), it was about Generalissimo Francisco Franco, thirty minutes were filmed and it was not very good, but he risked a lot to get it made. Jean and the crew found themselves pursued by the police and just managed to make it back into France. Jean also directed a short film in 1965 called Les Pays Loins.


Rollin prior to receiving the Life Time Achievement Award at the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival on 15 July 2007

In 1968, Jean directed his first feature Le Viol du Vampire (The Rape of the Vampire). At the time he was still not known in the world of cinema, having only done a few short films and documentaries. The film was shot on a low budget, and consisted of two parts because it was originally supposed to be another short film, the second part was later added so that it was released as a feature film.[3] The release of Le Viol caused public scandal and outrage, his strong inspiration of American serials did not attract viewers. It was released during the events of May 1968, and due to the riots, it was a rare theatrical production at the time. Jean himself was also threatened due to this scandal,[4] because of this, Jean briefly decided to give up making films. His second feature La Vampire Nue (The Nude Vampire) was his first film in colour. It was mostly inspired by the 1916 film Judex, and also surrealism in general. Jean wanted to do something a little more temperate than Le Viol, a traditional mystery film. Anyways, as he himself stated, it came to be the same kind of film as his first feature, it also has the same spirit. Le Frisson des Vampires (The Thrill of the Vampires) was heavily influenced by the trappings of the hippie movement. In 1971, Jean directed Requiem pour un Vampire (Requiem for a Vampire), which became one of his most successful films, and it was another low budget production, which almost took no money to make. There was no dialogue in the first forty minutes of the film, this was in Rollin's words to make the "ultimate naive film", simplifying the story, direction and cinematography.

During his lifetime, Rollin never shot his films on video but reverted from 35mm to 16mm.[5]

In the mid-70's, lack of regular work led the director to direct mostly pornographic films under various pseudonyms, a process he kept on going up until the 80's.


Rollin died in December 2010 after a long illness. He is buried at cemetery Le Pere Lachaise in Paris, where his second son Carel also rests.[6]


Selected works as director[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Virgins & Vampires: Jean Rollin, Contains essays by Jean Rollin, edited by Peter Blumenstock; Includes CD soundtrack from Les Deux orphelines vampires – Limited edition of 300 copies, autographed by Jean Rollin (Crippled Publishing, 1997, ISBN 3-9805820-0-0)
  • Video Watchdog, Edition 31; Peter Blumenstock interviews Rollin (1995)
  • Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984 (1994) by Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs – Dedicates a chapter to Rollin
  • Jean Rollin: cinéaste écrivain (2002) by Pascal Françaix (ABC Films Editions, ISBN 978-2-915160-05-5)


  1. ^ "Jean Rollin Biography, Film & Books". Myspace. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "Jean Rollin Full Biography". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Lawrence P. Raffel"The Rape of the Vampire (1968)". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Simon Strong (March 2004) "Sous la páve, le pláge!: Lesbian Vampires Vs Situationist International". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ RIP Jean Rollin Fangoria, 16 December 2010

External links[edit]