Roll Film with Irma Vep



Maggie Cheung as Irma Vep

Charlie Barron, Reporter

Back to where it all began, Irma Vep first appeared as a character in the 1915 serial “Les Vampires”. Played by famous French actor Musidora, the part quickly became iconic among cinephiles. The bare bones of the character are that she is a villainous woman who sneaks around wearing a catsuit. This performance proved so enthralling that it went on to inspire a hit cult film in 1997, and later was remade as an HBO show in 2022

Irma Vep (1997) is a fascinating look into the process of movie making and the chaos behind it. The film centers around real-life movie star Maggie Cheung, who plays a version of herself cast in a remake of Les Vampires as Irma Vep. Maggie is the most important character in this story as both the star of the film and the host of the Irma Vep character, the audience sees the troubled production through her eyes. In the film, fictional French director Rene Vidal is meant as a stand-in for the actual director Olivier Assayas. The film ends with Maggie eventually abandoning the production, as the process has been too hectic to produce anything of value. The film exists somewhat as a critique of French filmmaking in the 90s, as the filmmakers in the movie are characterized as exceeding stubborn and hard to work with. The film is an odd watch, as it balances a weird tone with an admittedly strange premise, however, it is no doubt a success.

Irma Vep (2022) is an interesting comment on the landscape of movie making in the modern day, just as the predecessor was for the 90s. This time instead of a film, the remake takes the form of a modern streaming show, as so much else has in the past few years. The story has now lead in Mira played by Alicia Vikander, as she is the new host for the Irma Vep role. This adaptation builds on the last one in extremely interesting ways and shifts more around so Rene Vidal is even more similar to director Assayas. The show has much more time to spend on the actual production of the fake mini-series, so this show offers more time to breathe in the world than the film.