Friday, January 06, 2006

Forever Franco

Okay before I say another word I have to say it. I admire Jess Franco and his films. True the films are sometimes hard to take, but most often then not Franco hits one out of the park, and it really sticks with you. Who is Jess Franco you say? Jesus Franco is a European filmmaker whose made such classics as "Venus of Furs", "The Awful Dr. Orloff " and "Vampyros lesbos". These are only three films of his out of 186. Yes that's right you read right Franco has completed over 186 films and at almost 76 years old he's still churning them out. Franco has shot many films under many different aliases.

You either hate Franco or love him. There is no in between with him. Some of his films have had problems during production, and yet Franco has always pulled through and completed them. Maybe that's why I like him. Sure his films are usually relegated to B-movie type fare, but there is some sort of intelligence behind it. Some may just laugh, and call Franco more of a pornographer then a filmmaker, but after reading several interviews that he's given, and actually meeting the gentleman I am more inclined to see him as a true filmmaker, and not a hack that some label him. His films are an acquired taste and sometimes the films seem to be difficult to understand, but this is due to editing that Franco never did. You see Franco's films have been butched by distributors and producers who only try and market the exploitive parts of the film. One market would cut the film one way, while another market would cut it another way. Maybe that's why there is so many critics out there who don't like Franco's work.

As I've said always filmmaking is a co-operative endeavor, and sometimes the director does not have control of his films, and he is at the mercy of others who know little except the bottom line, which is all about the money. With the advent of DVD and the hunger for more product it is my hope that more distributors like anchor bay will release films by such directors as Franco with the filmmakers input. Maybe then the critics will be silenced and finally these films can be seen in their original version. Already films from such filmmakers as Mario Bava, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jose Benazeraf, and Jean Rollin are being unearthed, and restored.

A whole decades worth of films have been lost to unscrupulous distributors, and maybe it's not too late. I've always admired the European way of filmmaking. Smaller crews, and interesting story lines have been a staple of European directors. New World conservatism was absent in these films and many of them pushed the envelope in taste, and in subject matter some would say, but these films always had an exploitive element, and it's creators knew what they had to do in order to pull in it's audiences.

Jess Franco is one director who has made many different types of films, but always with a passion. In some of his restored work you can see this. So yes I like Franco, and his work. It's a hit and miss with me, but I always come away from one of his films and see a bit of genius in them, and I hope that someday I can have the energy and the passion Franco has in making films.

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