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(Credit: Olivier Strecker)


The film that changed Gaspar Noe's life


There is no filmmaker quite like Gaspar Noé, the Argentine director who has crafted a filmography characterised by vibrant colours, electric soundtracks and visuals that make you sweat with anxiety. With little interest in keeping to the boundaries of good taste, Noé is far more focused on pushing to an altogether more profound corner of filmmaking where he can question the limits of art itself. 

As a result, in a cinematic landscape where any cinematic surprise is unveiled long before the release of its corresponding movie through an all-too-revealing trailer or a bitter online troll, Noé has become one of the only truly revolutionary filmmakers, presenting bold ideas and filmmaking strategies with audacious weight. 

This has been true ever since his debut feature film, I Stand Alone, released in 1998, a project that won the filmmaker the International Critics’ Week Award at Cannes despite starting with a provocative message on screen that gave viewers a countdown and an offer to “leave the screening of this film”. 

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A creative flurry of music videos followed before his follow-up feature in 2002, with the shocking drama Irreversible, centred around a distressing rape sequence, resulting in 250 people walking out of the Cannes premiere. 

Noé wasn’t always so transfixed on such provocative filmmaking, however, with the Argentine naming Stanley Kubrick as one of his most influential filmmakers, citing in particular his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Speaking to the BFI about the classic, Noé stated, “This is the film I’ve seen more than any other in my life. 40 times or more”. 

Gushing over the movie’s transportive quality, he adds, “My life altered when I discovered it when I was about seven in Buenos Aires. It was my first hallucinogenic experience, my great artistic turning point and also the moment when my mother finally explained what a foetus was and how I came into the world. Without this film, I would never have become a director”.

A favourite of many filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was a game changer of science fiction upon its release in 1968 and remains a bastion of the genre to this very day, with the likes of 2014s Interstellar merely wishing to reach its majesty. 

Noé touched on Kubrick’s film somewhat in his trippy 2009 movie Enter the Void, where the filmmaker tried to replicate a DMT trip and life after death, depicting the spirit of a man who travels around his past life and mistakes in contemporary Tokyo. Using Kubrick’s ‘stargate’ sequence from 2001 as inspiration, Noé constructed a similar scene of visual dazzle, where vibrant colours and strange shapes pop in quick succession. 

No doubt, the Argentine filmmaker is a showman, with his brand new movie, Vortex being no different. Telling the story of a married couple who are both experiencing devastating symptoms of dementia, Noé splits the screen in half throughout the film to separate the mental states of each character, yet keep them inextricably in unison at the same time. Check out the trailer, below.