La Rose de Fer
Reaching deep, I set out to find a list of obscure horror movies on the Internet. To my distress, I found many lists. Few of these lists held titles that I had not already watched. Eventually, I stumbled on a reference to a French film called ‘La Rose de Fer’, translated ‘The Iron Rose‘. Jean Rollin directed this film in 1973.
Apparently Rollin famously directed many horror films, mostly vampire movies, that I have never seen. I love finding a treasure trove of new material! This film does not concern vampires, but does deal heavily on the topic of death and its cold embrace.
The Iron Rose – A Date in a Cemetery
The movie begins with a strikingly attractive woman, played by Françoise Pascal, finding an iron rose on the beach. There is no explanation of its significance. After a moment of inspection, it is thrown back to the sea. From there, the plot moves briskly. The beautiful woman meets a handsome man at a wedding.
They decide to meet again. Two lovers go on a walk in a train-yard, but eventually they happen upon an old cemetery. Momentarily they feel apprehension, but quickly fall victim to their want for adventure. They decide to talk a stroll through the cemetery, losing track of time. Eventually, night falls and things get very strange.
The director clearly has artistic intent that reaches beyond the standard horror movie formula. Every shot takes full advantage of its peculiar setting. Long cinematographic sequences take the viewer on a journey into a strange world beauty, mortality and morbidity. The over-grown graveyard effuses darkness and mystery that permeates the viewers experience.
They are not alone in this unusual world as they glance tangentially off of strange figures that wander the cemetery. The figures wisp in and our of frame as if to become a living part of the background. Rollin clearly wants to juxtapose our apprehension of death against the disquieting beauty of the ivy covered tombstones.
This proves to be a terrible idea for a first date. In a moment of young lust, the couple makes love in an open crypt. When they emerge from the crypt, the trail is gone and they are lost in labyrinth of stone. They wander the graveyard while becoming increasingly paranoid and disoriented. Over time, the woman becomes more and more at ease with their situation as she becomes aware of the beauty of the death that surrounds her.
A Grim Conclusion
Tension between the couple continues to build. He becomes more disoriented and erratic. She mellows into a peaceful calm. They come across the crypt where they first made love. The man goes back into the crypt to retrieve something that he left. The woman calmly closes the crypt behind him and fastens the latch, suffocating him.
She lovingly places the iron rose on the crypt before dancing through the graveyard. When the morning comes, she opens the doors and climbs down to her lover, closing the door and meeting her own death by suffocation.
The Iron Rose – Excellence in Art-House Horror
The Iron Rose is as beautiful as it is powerful. It is more of an art film than a strict horror movie. It leaves the viewer with both a sense of dread and wonder. Françoise Pascal absolutely stuns in her role as the nameless woman. Every expression, every tear and every move demands attention. She can only be described as wonderful in her role.
Considering the minimal plot and lack of action, I am astonished at how fulfilling this film is. Accordingly, I highly recommend this movie.
The Iron Rose (1973) - A Dark Love Letter from France - Malevolent Dark
Director: Jean Rollin
Date Created: 1973-01-01 00:00