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Published by Film Fanaddict on 2009/1/15 (2754 reads)
Directed By: Jean Rollin
Review By: William P. Simmons
Released By: Redemption USA
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: French/English Subs
Region Code: Region 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1:66.1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Trailers & Still Gallery
Trailer Online: No
One of Rollinís more poetic and accomplished films, FASCINATION also remains one of his most accessible, paying more attention than is his custom to a well-structured story. While the initiated appreciate Rollinís non-linear plots and penchant for disregarding standard plot elements for dream works of self reflective fetishes, those new to his work will do well to start here. Visually and thematically the trademarks are all present, including lesbians, gorgeously captured surroundings, and kinky sex. More powerfully felt is his attention to characters who long for loves and sensual pleasures long denied them. Brigitte LahaieĎs descent into a world reminiscent of Elizabeth Bathory is both disturbing and attractive, with Rollins finding pain, betrayal, and meaning in both loneliness and decay.
Satisfying in structure, pace, and denouement of theme, FASCINATION is also crammed full of voluptuous chills, paying admirable attention to characterization and a tone that alternates between elegiac and erotic. When a thief betrays his fellows and runs off with their gold, .he demands refuge in a close by chateau, where he finds two young ladies hiding. Elisabeth (Franca Mai) and Eva (Brigitte Lahaie), employees of the estate, have stayed behind in the large building while the other domestics are on holiday. The young women are rather too accommodating to the thief, obviously eager to delay him until sundown. The thief, thinking with the wrong head and captivated by the mystery and sexuality of his hosts, discovers that a gathering is set for midnight, with someone deadly as the special guest . . . In true movie logic, Elisabeth is head-over- heels with the thief, and struggles to warn him of the danger he is in, urging him to flee before night. Regrettably, the other thieves and malicious Eva arenít going to make their escape easy.
FASCINATION is lovely to look at and easy to submerge oneís mind in. Visually stunning, Rollin uses gothic architecture, the beauty of his women, and a compounding sense of isolation to cement his themes of devotion and betrayal. His voyeuristic camera captures the funeral wonder and mysterious beauty of the macabre, loneliness, and time with typical brooding romanticism. The theme of discovery and its price is paramount, as is the contradictory nature of romantic relationships. Two people in love yet fascinated by death and its mementos both toy with, and in turn are used by, not only mortal death but the extinction of love itself, of the spirit, of changing perceptions. Here again Jean Rollin proves to be a poet whose sensuous flesh -scapes of death, desire, and derangement are at once both operatic and erotically intimate. Using as his canvas the paradoxical human fear of (and fascination with) sensuality and death, his films are similar to dream ballets. The directorís obsession with vampires is well served here, but fleshed out with startling intimacy.
FASCINATION was released by Image Entertainment about nine years ago. Redemption USA, the genre fanís friend, releases it 1.66:1 widescreen. While there are some instances of grain and faded imagery, this fault appears to lie with the source copy not the transfer. The picture is still rather clean and enjoyable, with nothing overly distracting, and the price and very fact that this treasure is available again is reason to celebrate. Colors are vibrant and solid, contributing to the decadent and fantastical setting and mood. Audio is featured in the original French with optional English subs. The track is smooth and without muffling, and the dialogue easy to understand. Extras from include the Theatrical Trailer (in French), a Still Gallery, and Trailers of other Redemption offerings.
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