AKA-ROSE OF IRON/NIGHT OF THE CEMETERY/FREIDHOF DER TOTEN SEELEN
REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-JEAN ROLLIN CAST-MIREILLE DARGENT, FRANCOISE PASCAL, NATHALIE PERREY and HUGUES QUESTER. SOURCE-X-RATED KULT (PAL R 2 DVD) 2005
This Jean Rollin film has been an ultra rare find for many years, only really being available through black market sources. Those prints of course were quite shotty at best and really never gave this very beautifully shot film itís due. Finally, through the care of German DVD company X-Rated we are treated to LA ROSE DE FER in full bloom. This though a rare gem, is surely one of Rollinís most complete and hauntingly beautiful pieces of work. Like with many of his other pieces, Rollinís is subtle with dialogue, leaving the imagery and scenery do most of the talking. They do not let him down either, coupled with the haunting beauty of actress Francoise Pascal, this dark gothic piece studies the human condition when driven to extremes. By this I mean with the storyís telling of a young couple who venture into a very old and very large cemetery, eventually getting lost within itís walls. Throughout this time, a mind game between the two arises and begins to battle. Eventually Pascalís character adopts to her surroundings by excepting it.
Warding off her once darkest fears and replacing them with a subtle understanding that the dead arenít really the dead but the living are in fact those who are really the dead. This of course scares and confuses Questerís character, as they fight to find their way out of the cemetery, at least after awhile it only being Quester who wants to leave. Rollin does a wonderful job of switching things around. LA ROSE DE FER is primarily set in a cemetery, one that has ever image and object that would only be dredged up in oneís nightmare and of course with a similar situation of wanted to escape without any luck. Rollinís even incorporates one symbol in particular, one that is heavily associated with French cemeteries, the iron rose. From the filmís opening sequence of Pascalís character walking along a deserted beach finding an iron rose washing up with the tide, to the LA ROSE DE FERís haunting ending.
Of course this symbol is the pinnacle of the film in name as well. Along with Rollinís trademark hauntingly dark atmosphere, painting like settings and surreal situations, this filmís score is also one element that is very important. The Pierre Raphís score adds the perfect amount of darkness and despair, soaking oneís mood with complete and utter helplessness for the filmís two main characters. With all this aside, the one main aspect of LA ROSE DE FER that Rollinís seemingly knew would have a great effect on the viewer was the subtle and haunting beauty of Francoise Pascal. That beauty seems to generate a greater light as the film carries on, especially once she has begun to transform midway through the film. Her acceptance of her surrounds forces her personality to change as does her rough beauty.
With this recent X-Rated Kult release, and now another release of it through Redemption, one has to make better judgment as to which release would be best. I have not yet seen the new Redemption DVD, but judging on extraís alone, it certainly out duels this X-Rated Kult release. In terms of print, I can only comment on this the X-Rated Kult release. The print itself isnít too bad, though it looks like it either cropped improperly or it has a centering issue, either or. Itís been cleaned up quite a bit certainly from old black market transfers. The audio has been cleaned up as well, but sadly there is little in the way of extras on this disc. Holding only that of the French and German trailers for the film as well as a rather extensive stills gallery. Still, this is certainly no match for the Redemption disc which boosts a 40 minute interview with Rollin as well as trailers and a still gallery as well. Still, the most important aspect would have to be the difference in each oneís print, and like I have already mentioned, I have yet to see the Redemption version. For now the X-Rated release is more then enough to satisfy oneís curiosity in this rarely seen Jean Rollin classic.
*Read Sean's review of this classic Rollin film as well!
STORY/FILM-4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-2.5 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-3 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-2.5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3 BITCH SLAPS
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