JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: La nuit des horloges (2007)

Ovidie, who stars in this film, was a “very active militant feminist” when she started her adult career. At first, she thought that porn was filled with injustice for women but was shocked by how the women were powerful sexual beings. Seeing how that worked with her feminist ideals, she started acting and said, “I am interested in these sort of experiences not just because I am perverse, which as you have seen I can be when I want to be. No, it’s because not everyone can achieve them.” After a year as a performer, she started directing movies by women for women, just like the adult store that she owns, as well as crossing over to mainstream in movies like All About Anna, in which she performed explicit and unsimulated oral sex on mainstream actress/singer Gry Bay.

That’s who Jean Rollin picked to play Isabelle, the heroine of his next to last film and this makes sense, so much sense, as so much of his work has been about the juxtaposition and duality of the virginal and the sexual. He’s a man who strove to make fairy tales about vampires, castles and beaches and yet had to pay for them by changing his name and directing dirty movies. Yet no matter what he makes, there they exist, the innocent and the profane.

Isabelle has inherited a home from her uncle, who was a writer and filmmaker. Within that home, she discovers the lost memories of a dead man, a place forever haunted by not only his characters and fantasies but the movies and moments of Rollin.

So while this has a title that means The Night of the Clocks and that sounds vaguely Italian, you should also know that this is Rollin’s very own Cat In the Brain as he brings back the people and times and memories of a man who at the age of seventy is looking back at the struggles of attempting to create myth that can last.

So Ovidie steps into the shoes of Brigitte Lahaie, another actress that Rollin took from adult and found his perfect woman and then brings back so many images and feelings and yet also has so many new things, like the wax sculptures that show how the body decays, surely a fact that was weighing on him. Indeed, Rollin had but three years left on Earth when he made this movie. And that wax museum was to be all that he was to film, but he was so inspired when he saw it that this film came from it, financed all with his own money.

Between the moment when the clock coffin catches on fire and realizing that this was shot in the same cemetery as The Iron Rose, not to mention how much fun everyone seems to be having, I have to confess tearing up a few times. It’s disconcerting to watch someone’s entire film output within just a few days and then have this resolution, although Rollin would make one more movie. I have no idea what the word for this emotion is. It’s sadness mixed with happiness that it happened. Maybe it’s just life.

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