Gaspar Noé, director of the Vortex, talks about crying, death and drugs [Interview]

Gaspar Noé, director of the Vortex, talks about crying, death and drugs [Interview]

I never have a passive reaction to your films, so thank you for that.

Awesome. Thank you. Did you cry watching “Vortex?”

Yes. I appreciated that you never tried to provide catharsis or anything to make the audience feel better.

I was asking because I think it’s totally normal to cry. I made a melodrama and I wanted people to cry. But when people say, “No, I didn’t cry, but it touched me”, I’m always afraid of people who say, “I didn’t cry”.

I cry a lot in my life. I’ve been through similar situations and I know what it’s like to have a mother with dementia. I know how much I cried when she died. You make a film and you try to share some of your feelings, past feelings or whatever, and then when people say, “I didn’t cry”, I didn’t succeed with my film.

Maybe they’ll think about it more and cry down the line, though.

It’s a movie I saw many years ago, but I kept thinking about it. It was “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”. I have never had to deal with abortion myself. The portrayal of abortion in this film, wow. I couldn’t get rid of certain scenes and images for years.

So in wanting an audience to cry, do you think about how you want an audience to react when you’re making a movie?

At least now this movie probably feels like a more serious roller coaster for adult audiences, but I love making movies, roller coasters, to make you scream, cry, love, whatever. Most of the time, my previous films were all about young characters. My audience was very young because I felt attracted by the subjects of the film, a young drug trafficker or a budding young filmmaker discovering passion in France with one or two girls. You can understand why young audiences would go to see these films.

In this case, I wanted to make a film that would still be one of my films, but with characters that would be much older than me. I am very close to my father. I was also extremely close to my mother, who died eight years ago. For me, a film hero or anti-hero can be of any age. You can also make a movie with a four-year-old character. It will be as touching as a movie with an 80-year-old character or a 20-year-old character.

Despite the differences between “Vortex” and your past work, there are still many connections, aren’t there?

Yeah. Even the character of Dario Argento, who is a film critic in the film, an 80-year-old film critic, he’s an extension of the budding filmmaker character played by Karl Glusman in “Love.” He’s a guy who studies cinema. Then at the end of this movie, he ended up having a baby with his neighbor instead of having a baby with his passionate love. Probably the character played by Karl Glusman could become the character played by Dario Argento years later, and the little baby in that “Love” movie could become The Son’s character in that movie, a 45-year-old junkie. There are some similarities.

Do you think about your filmography in a broader sense and what the body of the work says?

I don’t care what my filmography is going to be. People thinking about how the body of work is going to be exhibited in a museum — posterity for filmmakers is very different from posterity for a painter. My father is a painter, and he is very worried about how his paintings will be shown after his death or during his lifetime.

In my case, nowadays VHS are not watchable anymore. Some people have DVD players, but that will go away. Probably tomorrow, a big American company will buy all the rights to all my films through a French company that produced them. They’re going to be swept under the rug because they’re going to be ashamed of being exposed. You do not know. Probably all my bodywork will disappear in five years. You can’t say how movies are going to be exhibited in the future.

If your work was put away like this, how would you feel?

What can you do? At least you know that you are doing your best to exhibit your films, which are not personal films either, they are collective films, as long as you are alive. You can die at any time and you have no control over what happens next. I don’t think today’s films will survive like novels or paintings of the past. Even all these great filmmakers who have made 20 films, where do you see their prints? Probably at the French Cinematheque there are retrospectives, or at the British BFI, but their films wouldn’t play once over a 20-year period. Above all, all cinema is disappearing.

I spoke to Monica Bellucci recently and, oddly enough, she said she hoped the cinema would survive.

Have you seen the new cut of “Irreversible” yet?

I do not have.

It’s a straight cut, all chronological. It was released in Russia and Japan, France and Germany. It was released on double Blu-ray in England. If you can find the UK Blu-ray, there are two versions. The new version for many people is more powerful in terms of emotion, because it’s more sentimental. Also, it’s more cruel because everything goes wrong at the end of the film. When you see this film, this new cut, the character of Monica becomes much more important. You can really tell how daring she was to make the film. Try to grab a copy of the straight cut UK Blu-ray “Irreversible”. You’ll see, wow, the movie is even more shocking than the original.

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