The Stray Dreamer, directed and written by Damien Aimé Dupont and Yvan Pierre-Kaiser, is an attempt to tell the story of Jean Rollin and to create “the portrait of a real artist, the last surrealist, a poet who created his very own dreamworld.” The best part of this is that so much of the story of Rollin is told by the artist himself, even revealing that at times, he would shoot all night and have an ambulance called to take him to the hospital for kidney dialysis in the morning. He also says what makes the most sense about his films, which often makes viewers struggle to make sense of them: “My vision, either good or bad, is personal.”
As many talking heads speak about what makes Rollin essential, it is Rollin who proves it, discussing the struggle to find his voice and tell his stories. Over the last week, I’ve written of each of his films and the themes they explore and I still feel that even with as many watches as I’ve watched, I am only at the surface level of his work and my understanding of it.
I did love getting to hear from Pete Tombs, whose book Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies, 1956-1984 introduced me to Rollin. I don’t know if I was ready for him in the late 90s and early 00s, as most of the movies I loved were fast movie Hong Kong gun fights or gore-soaked effects-driven blasts of wildness. I did not yet understand the way that movie drugs worked, that you didn’t need cocaine highs all the time and could find a much better high through long droning passages of vampire women wandering ship-strewn beaches and iron-gated cemeteries.