Les Vampires (Motion picture serial) -- Drama, Motion picture actors and actresses -- Hong Kong -- Drama, Motion picture producers and directors -- France -- Drama, Motion picture serials -- France -- Drama, Motion pictures -- Production and direction -- France -- Drama

Irma Vep


Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler,

Olivier Assayas inserts his passion for visual, chaotic Hong Kong action movies into the verbose, yet equally chaotic, landscape of the French art film in this “remake” of the silent French serial Les vampires. Pop-culture icon Maggie Cheung, as both “Irma Vep” and “Maggie Cheung,” tiptoes through the wreckage, her latex-catsuited presence triggering as much anarchy, confusion, and sexual disruption as did her silent equivalent. Where the original serial featured Irma Vep wreaking havoc upon Paris’s alienated ruling elite, Assayas has Irma/Maggie preying on that most alienated of elites, a French film crew, complete with overwrought director (Jean-Pierre Léaud in classic irascible mode), high-strung artists, and bickering hangers-on united by a shared sense of hopelessness, bile, and thwarted lechery. Simultaneously a bemused look at the neuroses of creative French filmmaking and a spellbinding valentine to the giddily surrealist and sensual cinemas Irma and Maggie each represent, Irma Vep creates a filmic identity that’s decidedly jagged, vibrant, and fascinating.

Jason Sanders
  • Olivier Assayas
  • Eric Gautier
  • French
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 99 mins
  • Zeitgeist Films

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Irma Vep documents  

The films of Olivier Assayas (program note), Anthology Film Archives, 2008

Irma Vep (program note), Harvard Film Archive, 2004

Irma Vep (distributor materials), Tournées, 1998

Life intimidates art (review), Reader (Chicago, Ill.), Jonathan Rosenbaum, 1997

Irma Vep (program note), San Francisco International Film Festival, 1997

Re: Vamp (article), San Francisco Bay Guardian, Chuck Stephens, 1997

To catch a thief (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 1997

Irma Vep (review), Time Out New York, Stephan Talty, 1997

Irma Vep (program note), Vancouver International Film Festival, Françoise Maupin, 1997

Irma Vep (program note), Rotterdam Film Festival, 1997

Displaying 10 of 15 publicly available documents.

View all Irma Vep documentation on CineFiles.

Preceded By

Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung

Olivier Assayas, France, 1997

Olivier Assayas’s silent Super 8mm portrait of Maggie Cheung was made as a commission for the Fondation Cartier.

Print Info
  • Color
  • Digital
  • Silent
  • 5 mins
  • Olivier Assayas