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Film Review: The Iron Rose (1973)

The-Iron-Rose-1975-La-Rose-de-Fer-movie-jean-rollin-(12)SYNOPSIS:

A young couple out for a walk decide to take a stroll through a large cemetery. As darkness begins to fall they realize they can’t find their way out, and soon their fears begin to overtake them.

REVIEW:

This was labeled and promoted as a horror movie but the director has said in interviews he meant for it to be taken as an art house film. I don’t find anything horrific or artful about this long walk in the graveyard. The premise is interesting enough, two young adults who have recently fallen in favor of each other go for a stroll in the graveyard, get sidetracked making love in an underground tomb, and end up lost in the graveyard all night, both going mad and turning against each other. Does this graveyard go on forever like the afterlife? Are these stupid kids just going around in a circle like the circle of life? There’s actually a lot of the filmmakers could have done with this plot but they delivered very little.

Let’s start with the films strongest point, some absolutely stunning cinematography throughout the picture with a number of strong surrealistic images. For example, a clown in full make up is shown in the graveyard, visiting the tombstone of a lost loved one. Another scene finds our protagonists making love in in a pit filled human skulls. Sadly these nonsensical scenarios that make things interesting are too few and far between. But the film takes place in a gorgeous old graveyard and if you enjoy this location and the atmosphere it brings you may be able to ignore the films weaknesses.

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The biggest weaknesses being the pace and length of the picture. The film as it stands would have been better off as a short film, at least 20 minutes cut from the 90 minutes we are exposed to. There is a lot of walking back and forth in poorly lit scenes with the camera placed far enough away not to pick up on any subtleties the actors probably didn’t have the chops to show anyway. So what we have attempted here is two characters whose personalities change and worsen the longer they remain lost in the graveyard.

The lack of quality dialogue or any dialogue makes the personality changes appear random and out of place. This is done poorly enough that it could be intriguing to some simply based on the oddness factor. The male lead tends to show a disrespect for the dead and an anger and hostility towards his situation. The female appears calmer, passive, and becoming more and more at home inside the gates.

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If you’re a blood hound you won’t find much hear. T&A? The director was graceful enough to throw in a random scene where the very beautifully built actress imagines herself naked on a beach rambling some nonsense poetry. Which brings me to my next point, the bad poetry in this film. The male lead catches the attention of the girl at the beginning of the film by reading some bland poem during a dinner party. The poem sounds like the stuff Emo and Goth kids in high school creative writing classes all across America write. If the words have any meaning, who cares. Towards the films end the female lead succumbs to speaking only in bad poetry for the remainder of the film. Maybe something is lost in translation. I hope.

Mostly what you have in this picture is just two people walking. They walk to the left. They walk to the right. They walk up. They walk down. They walk some more. They walk some less. They turn around and walk backyards. If you like to see people walking in an awkward silence then by all means watch this film. I have no prejudices against slow paced films, I could watch The Brown Bunny in slow motion and be satisfied, but this walkathon doesn’t provide you with anything to think about while you take the walk. The film is as void of life as the graveyard it takes place in.

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Although this is mostly a negative review it’s worth repeating that the film carries a heavy atmosphere due to the isolated location and that appeal may linger you into enjoying the movie much more than this petty critic did.

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