Gaspar Noé's "Irréversible" is a film that is twisted, confused, appalled, or all of the above. It started with a rape-revenge narrative backward to the events prior to a horrifying crime in a red-lit tunnel in Paris, and was later made a Cannes Critics' Week film.
The re-release of "Irréversible" will be available for the first time in a "Straight Cut," which began as a bootleg DVD special that was discovered at Noe's desk before he completed a complete remake for the 2019 Venice Film Festival. The film, which was a worldwide box-office triumph at the time, loses none of its power but retains a different perspective: it follows Marcus (Cassel) as he seeks his girlfriend's rape and
After a near-death experience resulted in the directorial direction of the end-of-life drama "Vortex," which was released by MUBI last year, IndieWire spoke with Noé about the new theatrical release and his musings on cinema as a whole. He was sober after years of being high and drunk on set and in the writing of his screenplays.
“When a DVD or Blu-ray was released in some countries, they added extras, and one day I received a DVD from Korea, and it was announced as an extra, ‘The chronological recut of 'Irréversible,' and so I was surprised and I checked it, and it was so badly made that I didn’t go through it after three scenes, four scenes, and I stopped [watching],” Noé said.
Later, he was forced to revisit the film and create a more formal version of the bootleg recut, resulting in the version that was shown at Venice, which will soon be on screens in the United States and in the hands of Blu-ray collectors.
The almost 10-minute-long rape scene that strikes in the middle of the film, unfolding in an unbroken sequence, is inseparable from the actors who, as he explained in our interview, were strangely laughing about the setting's construction — and outlines what's next in his controversial career.
IndieWire: Are you surprised by the longevity of "Irréversible," and what prompted you to return to it?
Gaspar Noé: Most people who have seen "Irréversible" believe that they'll never want to see it again. One of these is Pasolini's "Sal," the other is "Cannibal Holocaust," and my film is always among the top three or top five. Even in the press, when the film was released, the film was largely limited to those scenes.
Aber were you so inspired that you could recut the film yourself?
When I decided to do a chronological re-edit of the film, I was not rewatching it. I was just making other films. Every year, people told me, "Your film impressed me so much, I can't get rid of that film that I've only seen once." When StudioCanal, which owns the rights to "Irréversible," asked me to supervise the remastering of Blu-ray and 2K screenings on DCP, we received all the information, we provided the
The answer or the answer to a puzzle I created 20 years ago has arrived after 20 years. I thought it was a joy to do it, and I thought it was fun to make it available on television in many countries. In this new version, the main heroes are the characters of Monica Bellucci and Albert Dupontel, and you kind of dislike, from the beginning, Vincent Cassel's character.
What's interesting about this version is how you perceive the act of vengeance very differently when the film moves in sequence. The changes are minor. When viewing the film, did you notice anything you didn't want to do differently?
I hate to watch my own films, and since I suffer, I want to reorganize the film, remix the sound, and recut the scenes. In this instance, I was remastering the film and watching it all over again. The new one is the director's recut, but the recut is far more simple and more cruel than the old experimental conceptual cutting.
Courtesy Everett Collection
When you married Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, on the same level as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton, you made this film. Did it affect them or their reputation?
Before mine, they had already made two films together: "The Apartment" and "Dobermann." My film was a specific film in which they were playing the main characters together. They were so in love with each other that they were almost asking people at that time, "Do you have an idea for us to play in a movie together?" They were always separated, and they were already planning to have children at the time.
The good thing about them is that they felt more secure [on 'Irréversible'] than they did when I proposed the film to Monica and not to her husband. Probably, the scene of nudity [which opens the re-cut] I would have rejected it because I wouldn't have known Vincent Cassel had a girlfriend, so [Cassel and Bellucci] made the film a reality. They wanted to be their own [version] of the tough films of the 1970s.
So it wasn't like you were attempting to interrogate the "Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci the Couple" image, as someone like Stanley Kubrick might like to do with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on "Eyes Wide Shut."
Vincent and Monica were very kind and generous people that I would meet in parties. I suggested they play in a project called "Danger," which later became "Love," which was directed by Noé. It had a lot of explicit scenes. They were very ecstatic that I had another rabbit to pull out of my hat.
When the financiers said "no," they were ready to put the money on the table... [Vincent and Monica] were really on my side of the movie to make something that would engage the audience. It's very difficult to engage an audience, because most people sleep in front of the screen.
Have you ever been frustrated by how little attention has been paid in the press to the rape scene in 'Irréversible,' which is almost ten minutes long and shot in one take?
Because I walked out in the middle of the film during the rape scene... It took me ten years to rewatch the film on VHS. Violence generates adrenaline, and adrenaline fixes the memory. Women have more problems with the murder scene than the rape scene. Most men are not shocked by the murder scene.
"Irreversible" is the term used to describe it.
Collection of Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett'
Monica Bellucci, with you controlling the camera, has been said to have more or less directed this interaction between her and one other actor.
I was not directing her playing; I was actually operating the camera. When it came to her behavior, I said, "OK, you're responsible." At the end of every sequence of the film, the actors were very happy of how they played the scene, but also they were laughing between the takes. "The audience is gonna scream!" As the actors play her rapist, both Monica and Jo Prestia said, "We're on the other hand."
This film would not be released today.
It is now unthinkable to get a film funded [...] People are afraid of being accused of misconduct or whatever.
And you'd have a set-up for intimacy.
In France, this does not exist.
In March 2003, Lionsgate released 'Irréversible' in the United States, almost a year after it premiered in Cannes.
All major distributors agree that the highest rating they can afford is a R rating, which, of course, my film would not have been able to obtain.
With the release of "Climax" from A24 in 2019, you found a bit of a new audience. What was your experience like, and would you repeat it?
I'm extremely glad they did a fantastic job, but they're more interested in reaching out to a younger audience, and the film I saw after, 'Vortex,' was a real melodrama of old age and dementia, so it's unlikely that they'll release it often.
Now that you've completed "Vortex," you've discussed wanting your next project to be a documentary or something about young children. Any of these projects are coming to fruition?
Because the [latter] film had to be restored on 35 for its theatrical release, right now, I'm taking care of getting the negatives to release it on Blu-ray. I can't promise you what my next film will be about whether or not I'll direct a narrative or documentary film.
Just before the epidemic hit, you suffered a brain hemorrhage, which pushed you not only to a more ascetic lifestyle — you became sober and stopped smoking — but you almost developed "Vortex," which is a term for dying and old age.
The good thing about being more sober than before is that you get to dream more. It’s very difficult for you to remember your dreams when you go to bed drunk or wake up in the morning. Now, every morning, I remember my dreams, and sometimes too many.
On February 10, the "straight cut" of "Irréversible" will be presented at New York's IFC Center and Los Angeles Landmark Nuart, followed by a nationwide rollout.