Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, ‘Irma Vep’ tells the story of Mira Harberg (Alicia Vikander), a Hollywood actor who has recently completed the superhero film ‘Doomsday.’ Although the film is a success, Mira seeks something a bit more rewarding from her professional life. So, she signs on to work in the remake of the 1915 French silent-era serial film ‘Les Vampires.’ However, what she has hoped will take her career in a new direction becomes a surreal experience as she completely immerses herself in her character, Irma Vep. Here is everything you need to know about the title of the series.
What Does Irma Vep Mean?
As a show, ‘Irma Vep’ is based on Assayas’ 1996 film of the same name. Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung portrays a version of herself in the original movie. The film version of Cheung is cast in ‘Les Vampires’ to play Irma Vep. After arriving in France, she witnesses the utter dysfunctionality of the French film industry from the perspective of an outside observer. As the focus largely remains on that dysfunctionality and the satirical elements that stem from it, Maggie remains a mystery. In the newer project, Assayas corrects this by exploring various facets of Mira’s character.
“Here, we are with Mira,” the ‘Wasp Network’ director told Vulture. “Everything is seen from her point of view, but she’s also the active engine. She is the one character that makes the story go forward and what we are interested in simultaneously is her adventures in filmmaking and her search for her own identity, her sexuality, made possible by the fact that she was on her own in a strange world.”
‘Les Vampires’ is a real film, and Irma Vep is one of its important characters. The phrase “Irma Vep” is an anagram for Vampire. In the 1915 film, Irma Vep is portrayed by French actress Musidora. Written and directed by the early French auteur Louis Feuillade, ‘Les Vampires’ revolves around a notorious group of criminals and the reporter protagonist pursuing them. Despite what the name suggests, the vampires here aren’t the supernatural beings that drink blood. Instead, they are a powerful and violent criminal organization.
Irma Vep is a cabaret dancer and member of the Vampires. In the course of the serial film, she becomes the mistress of multiple succeeding Grand Vampires or vampire leaders. ‘Les Vampires’ was a massive success and turned Musidora into a star.
Asked in an interview about the difference between Irma Vep in the 2022 show and the one in the 1996 film and the one in Feuillade’s 1915 film, Vikander noted in an interview with the W magazine that she is portraying an actor portraying the character. In contrast, Cheung plays a version of herself playing the character.
“I think René [Vidal] in our TV series is telling Mira that he already did this modern take of ‘Les Vampires,’ but now he’s trying to make [a version] going back to the roots and honoring filmmaking as it was in the beginning,” the Ex Machina actor added. “So I guess it’s more of a traditional, classical take on Irma. Because the Maggie Cheung character did a version of Irma that was much more modernist, and this seems like a more traditional way of trying to adapt ‘Les Vampires.’ It’s period. When you see the film that they’re making, it’s set in 1915.”
Read More: Is Irma Vep Based on a True Story or a Book?