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Irma Vep (1996): Agile Women & Silent Film Spectacle

by Brett Service

In this clip from 'Irma Vep' (1996), director Rene Vidal (Jean-Pierre Leaud) attempts to cast Maggie Cheung (playing herself) in his remake of Louis Feuillade's silent film serial 'Les Vampires'. For Vidal, the physical versatility and magnetism demonstrated by Cheung in her Hong Kong action films is the perfect corollary to Musidora's erotic appeal in the original serial. In this comparison, we can begin to appreciate the contemporary influences of early silent film innovations in later film traditions -- seven decades and multiple continents separate the traditions that Vidal attempts to synthesize. Assayas also encourages us to appreciate the magical or elemental appeal of motion pictures, both in HK action films and silent crime thrillers. He enables us to revisit the spectatorial awe experienced by early filmgoers on similar terms to contemporary film spectacles of agile women moving through onscreen space.

Irma Vep (1996): Feuillade Meets Hong Kong

In this clip from Olivier Assayas' 'Irma Vep' (1996), director Rene Vidal (Jean-Pierre Leaud) makes his pitch to Maggie Cheung (playing herself) to have her play the titular Irma Vep in a remake of Louis Feuillade's silent film serial 'Les Vampires'

from Irma Vep (1996)
Creator: Olivier Assayas
Distributor: Fox Lorber
Posted by Brett Service