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Watch This: Immortel (ad vitam) (2004)

Watch This: Immortel (ad vitam) (2004)

Directed by Enki Bilal - Produced by Duran Entertainment. Cert 15

Weird as all hell.

There's your review.

Obviously heavily influenced by the work of Moebius (also see this editions' review of Time Masters), French comic-book artist and writer Enki Bilal created a world where a future New York is dwarfed by a mysterious gigantic alien Pyramid and an attractive, mysterious, beautiful young alien woman is running around having escaped it and is trying to thwart the machinations of those in the threatening structure.

Pyramids, Egyptians with alien connections, alien heroine - sound familiar?  It's telling that before the release of The Fifth Element (1997) its director Luc Besson had been at great pains to make it known that his film was based on a story he had made up when he was 12 years old. Bilal's Nikopol Trilogy (Immortal is only the first part of the story - Nikopol was adapted into a well-received videogame a few years later), predates The Fifth Element by YEARS. Coincidence?  Two French writer/artist/film-makers and all those coincidences?  Fine.

Immortel is as weird a film as you could hope to see.  French, but English-language, characters dubbed for no discernible reason, characters that have no business being CGI are CGI (and this being 2004, they don't look great).

But it has a distinctly odd vibe to it and there's nothing else quite like it in cinema - a sci-fi actioner that is strangely contemplative and quiet much of the time, some of the effects are hindered by the budget and strange production decisions, but the design and scale of Bilal's vision is something to behold.  Perhaps something got lost in translation - the story is a mess and ultimately unengaging (particularly since we've seen much of this already, but told better), but there's something to be said for a film that is completely unique, unworldly and legitimately unlike anything else around.  So, not one to watch for the tale being told, but one to marvel at when it comes to just how ambitious one man and his vision can be.

Chris Coates

All promotional material Duran Entertainment.
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