Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Night of the Hunted (La Nuit des Traquées) (1980)

The Night of the Hunted begins, as many of Jean Rollin's films do, in the forest. A young woman is wandering in a nightgown without memory of how she got there. A man gives her a ride back to the city, and it is here that the film takes a different turn for Rollin. A victim of amnesia, she resides in a modernist high-rise building populated by others similar affected by memory loss. As the young woman's memory problems increase, she begins to question whether she and the rest of the building's inhabitants are suffering from the same disease or whether they are victims of some experiment.


Like The Grapes of Death, The Night of the Hunted uses the zombie narrative to explore the potential impact of science and modernization on the human body.  Unlike Rollin's typical dichotomy between a timeless natural environment and more gothic, castle/dungeon-ish interiors, Rollin here explores a more modern, urban setting. There is a dehumanizing and sterile emptiness to the interior shots.

So many of Rollin's characters are lost in their environments. In the case of The Grapes of Death and Lost in New York, they are searching for their companions. The need for a partner, someone with whom they can complete the journey, is a recurring motif. Here, in The Night of the Hunted, there is some particularly poignant about its expression. As the characters lose their memory, not only of themselves but of others, they still exhibit an emotional need for human companionship, as though it is a deeply rooted need that cannot be erased.

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