It's hard to believe it, but he's gone.
He's no longer with us. For the first time in our lives, we live in a world without Jean.
He'd been sick for a long time, but he forged on despite the hardships.
That's how powerful his passion was. Like a priest's calling to God, his devotion to filmmaking was a vocation.
When I was a kid, he was someone I read about. His work was impossible to find, but there were stills in books like David Pirie's The Vampire Film that iced my nerve endings and ignited my sense of wonder. So THIS was cinema???!!!
In a dusty second hand bookshop I discovered a magazine called Midi Minuit Fantastique, an incredible labor of love that often devoted pages and pages to the work of Mr. Rollin.
The magazine would inspire the late Frederick S. Clarke to create the American Cinefantastique, another incredible tome, at least under Clark's watch.
Ironically, Rollin's often maligned (by many) and deeply loved (by a loyal few) work would inspire others to create and re-create and venture deeper into long buried genres in order to unearth treasures as precious as his.
Few, of course, were ever quite THAT precious.
Midi Minuit, to me, was like a shrine to the marginalized films of the imagination, and Jean was one of its gods. He existed in a twinkling twilight to me, a world where creation was not second guessed by a man in a suit or polluted by too much money. His work, finessed on the penny pinching planet of his unique imagination, always stood apart from the rest because its orbit was deliciously unconventional.
Rollin was not a consenting role model to me as a filmmaker, but he was a role model in so many ways. His eternal struggle to make films from his heart made my struggle (also eternal) a little bit easier. If Jean could keep pushing the barrow, so could I. If Jean could persevere, so could I. If Jean could dare to embark on a project driven only by personal faith, so could I.
My film Defenceless was certainly partly inspired by Jean's Living Dead Girl and fueled by a mutual love of the sea.
Already I sense the yawning hole he's left, a hole that can only be filled with sweet memories of first encounters and shared new encounters with his celluloid children.
Mr. Rollin, you came and went and bequeathed us a mint of wonders.
Thank you so much.