The Origins Of “Irma Vep”
The 1996 movie “Irma Vep” was a tribute to the French silent film classic “Les Vampires” by Louis Feuillade released in 1915, which told the story of Irma Vep, a thief working for a gang of Parisian criminals called “The Vampires.” By the way, the name Irma Vep is an anagram of the word vampire, a word composed using the same letters as another word.
Olivier Assayas’ 1996 movie “Irma Vep” follows French director René Vidal as he embarks on the filming of a new version of the movie “The Vampires.” Maggie Cheung, a Chinese actress, has been cast in the title role of Irma Vep. After a while, Vidal is struggling to make any progress on the film. As the production spirals out of control, it becomes increasingly clear that Vidal is in over his head. Ultimately, “Irma Vep” is a fascinating glimpse into the behind-the-scenes chaos of filmmaking. Despite its chaotic atmosphere, the movie is funny and insightful.
Discover The New Series
The new eight-part series follows the same premise as the movie and is also directed by French director Olivier Assayas. But this time, the story is set in the present day and stars Alicia Vikander in the lead role.
Fall In Love With The Sapphic Character Of This Mini-Series
Mira Harberg (Alicia Vikander) is an American movie star disillusioned by her career who is in France to play Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film “Les Vampires.” While she is there, she is also recovering from a recent breakup with her former assistant Laurie.
Just as in the film, Mira Harberg begins to fully inhabit her role before losing touch with reality and becoming obsessed with the character she plays. And as she begins to lose herself between her character and herself, the film’s production is hit by several setbacks.
Watch The Trailer For “Irma Vep”
Here’s the trailer for this new tv series:
Alicia Vikander is accompanied by a prestigious French cast that includes Vincent Macaigne (The Innocents), Jeanne Balibar (Les Misérables), and Vincent Lacoste (Les Beaux Gosses, Lost Illusions).
The series also stars Byron Bowers (No Sudden Move), Nora Hamzawi (Non-Fiction), Hippolyte Girardot (Munch), Antoine Reinartz (BPM (Beats Per Minute)), Devon Ross, Maiya Sinclair, and Tom Sturridge (Good Morning England).
Carrie Brownstein has also a small role in episode 2.
A New Perspective On An Iconic Film
In this serialized version of his cult film, director Olivier Assayas entrusts the lead actress, formerly played by Maggie Cheung, to Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of trans artist Lili Elbe’s wife, Gerda Wegener, in “The Danish Girl”.
Vikander delivers an excellent performance here, bringing new energy to the character. The supporting cast is also excellent, and the overall aesthetics of the mini-series are impressively faithful to the original.
By juxtaposing excerpts from “Les Vampires” with footage from the 1996 film and rushes from the film that René Vidal’s character (Vincent Macaigne) is shooting, Assayas creates a dizzying mise en abyme that allows us to see in a new light the relationships between actors and directors, fiction and reality.
In doing so, he reminded me of the power of art to shape our perceptions of the world and challenge our assumptions about what is real and what is not.
By offering us this glimpse into the creative process, Assayas invites us to see the world through the eyes of an artist and to reflect on how art can help us understand our own lives.
“I am immensely grateful to Alicia, A24, and HBO for giving me the incredible opportunity to explore and expand Irma Vep in a series format,” Assayas said in HBO’s press release for the series. “This is a comedy that will try and catch the zeitgeist the same way the original Irma Vep did, in a very different world, a very different era, that right now feels light-years away.”
The director had already tried his hand at the series format in 2010 with “Carlos”, which was a huge success and won a lot of awards. This is definitively a welcome return to form for Assayas, who has not directed a project since his film “Cuban Network” released in 2019 on Netflix after his huge successes “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014) and “Personal Shopper” (2016).
Watch “Irma Vep”
Mini-series “Irma Vep” had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and began airing on HBO and HBO Max on June 6, 2022. Here’s the link to the show: hbo.com/irma-vep.