Irma Vep Review: the HBO series on Sky based on the film by Olivier Assayas

In 1996 the director and screenwriter Olivier Assayas he explored the declinations of the cinematographic language and of the re-proposition of the image with his own Irma Vep. The film, tangible in every sense, on which to scratch, cut and shred, write on it and leave your mark, saw the arrival of Maggie Cheung in France, ready to face an unprecedented version of the 1916 classic The vampires by Louis Feuillade, becoming the exotic face of a fervent and authorial European cinema.

A bilingual work, French and English, with a reflection on cinema that passes through its communicative potential of the sequences offered and the neutrality of the silent, which puts on the same balance the problems of understanding between the actress, in the role of herself, and the production workers, sharpening Assayas’ research on absolute communication. Assayas’ feature film now becomes a series produced by HBObroadcast on Sky and NOW (don’t miss the September Sky and NOW series).

How to fit images

An exploration, that of duality between art and commercialspecificity of the particular in relation to the expansion of the universal, which the filmmaker has continued to pursue in the wake of his pillars, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, in an investigation that in his cinema means the interrogation of frame through the use or not of the word.

A clash that in Assayas’s cinema has always represented the fulcrum of his vision, in constant contrast right where the creative flair is found. The one generated by differences and misunderstandings, by dualities and their finding a meeting point. The blockbuster and the refinement of authorial works they go as far as serialitywhich see the director return to the small screen with the revival of Irma Vep. An operation perfectly consistent with the constant investigation of man and artist, which almost reaches its apotheosis. A serial remake of a film project he himself conceived; an adaptation of one of his creations which brings to the apex the analysis on the continuous and unstoppable reinterpretation of the images, of how they are every time malleable and combinable with their contemporaneity, even when they look to the past. An immersive work that for the author indicates the apology of a theory of cinema that also touches TV, bringing to light the same questions and the infinite potential of the visual story. A creator who works on the same material he initially selected, becoming something else years later, showing an attachment to the past while looking for an outlet in the modernfinding the poetic and scholarly soul of his filmmaker.

The evolution of Irma Vep

Like this Irma Vep at times it follows the trend of the events that the nineties film showed in its narration, detaching itself by adding unexpected branches and deviations on the path of the characters.

The first big change is the protagonist, no longer a Hong Kong star, but a fictional character herself played by Alicia Vikander, intent on delving into the sophisticated side of her career and trying to leave behind stellar box office products and shooting with space helmets and laser guns – don’t miss the photos of Alicia Vikander in Irma Vep. A woman with a more stressed sexuality than it had been for the Maggie Cheung of ’96, this too reflects a changed and more fluid society under a lens that was already progressive at the time of the film, but modified to draw even more on its current reality. In addition, a continuum of grafts, artifacts or truths, of the series that the characters are filming or of that original work of the 10s of the twentieth century that has been able to express the issues and shadows of cinema with intensity. All this on as many devices as possible.

Irma Vepin its serial variant, is an academic path which Olivier Assayas continues to accomplish and sees a further addition to his thesis. A production in all respects authentic in the filmography of an exceptional filmmaker on the European scene, impeccable in his obsession with the image both in the cinema and in the TV series.

Irma Vep Review: the HBO series on Sky based on the film by Olivier Assayas