Reviewed by Lauren Taylor
Simplistic and ominous is how Jean Rollin’s 1997 Les Deux Orphelines Vampire (Two Orphan Vampires) begins. Based on Rollin’s novel of the same name, the simplistic plot follows Henriette and Louise, two young blind girls at the Les Glycines Orphanage who are adopted by an eye specialist, Dr. Dennary, that hopes to cure their blindness. Add in deep and powerful, but sometimes cheesy, dialogue and you’ve got a good little movie.
Of course, the two girls are not truly blind. At night, they see well and sneak out, hunting unsuspecting dogs, men and hookers to get their nourishment. These girls, who are said to be like two sisters of the baby Jesus, are actually vampires. However, the orphans are not sure of this and they continuously do research through the film to try and discover their origin that they have forgotten.
Rollin’s long drawn out scenes of the orphans on adventurist hunts, or simply gazing upon various sights, seem silly but flow with the movie like the dialogue. The dialogue between the two girls is like poetry as they finish each other’s sentences. It can be viewed as goofy but the amount of information about their history given in such scenes is bountiful. The insight of their tortured day life, and triumphant transition at night, is rewarding if it can be heard.
‘Our day for us is blue.’
‘The light for us is black.’
‘And other people’s sun has made us blind.’
‘ But when it is hidden.’
‘ Our dream begins.’
‘They’ll never know.’
‘The two blind orphans can see at night…’
‘Like the cats.’
Watching Les Deux Orphelines Vampire is all about being in the right mood. The movie will simply not work for the ADHD generation. The film is both aesthetically and intelligently satisfying, and captures the loneliness of not fitting into the world around you whilst showing the power that can come with such isolation. Though the film may not carry the same weight as Rollin’s output from the 1970’s, it is dynamically sound and worth watching.
The film is mastered from the original 16mm negative. Sadly, it is very obvious at times that the film was simply captured and not cleaned for Blu-ray. While for the most part it looks good and colors are vibrant in their own way, the amount of dust and scratches that appear can be distracting. The blue ambiance of the night scenes appears to have the most disruption, but it is better than the alternative could be dark and unwatchable. Even though it looks dirty in some scenes, the surreal nature of the movie is captured and shown. The sound quality is great with a perfect blend of the score, dialogue, and background noises.
Extras include Memories of a Blue World, an incredibly insightful featurette about the film’s series of setbacks and eventual production after the novel was written. The 40 minute documentary from 2012 includes interviews with the cast and crew, and gives great background including how Jean Rollin felt Isabelle Taboul was perfect for the role of Henriette because of her beautiful hair.
The 2008 interview with Jean Rollin is far different than most interviews that are included on DVDs these days. The questions asked of Rollin result in the filmmaker discussing overcoming political influences, persuasive cinematography techniques, and funding what he truly loved and wanted to make. A tour of props from films and memories of writing his films completes the 20 minutes piece.
A 12 page booklet is included with the Blu-ray as well. The Depth of a Sister’s Love written by Tim Lucas covers the tradition of Jean Rollin. A great read, the booklet focuses of The Living Dead Girl and Two Orphan Vampires, and states that Jean Rollin’s filmography can be summarized as ‘a poetical consideration of death, termination and unreality’. It’s the truth as long as you are in the right state of mind.