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Blue hair and pyramids
by Asa Butcher
Issue 8
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Immortal (Ad Vitam)
Enki Bilal
“Enki Bilal! We must go and see his film!” gasped an excited Thanos a few weeks ago. I nodded in that uncommitted way that usually accompanies an outburst of his Greek enthusiasm and then stupidly asked, “Why?” Rapidly, I discovered that Bilal is from the world of comic books and is simply fantastic. Silently cursing Bilal under my breath, I agreed to watch Immortal (Ad Vitam) at a showing in Helsinki’s Love & Animation Festival.

My prior apprehension proved pointless because the film was ‘simply fantastic’. Even though the film was part of an animation festival, it used two real actors acting on a digital set. The backgrounds and the remainder of the cast were computer-generated and the overall effect was excellent. I have yet to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Casshern or Sin City, which also employed this technique so sadly I can’t compare.

The plot certainly mixed a number of plots and sub-plots that were almost all resolved by the closing credits, although I can’t say for sure. The film is set in New York 2095 and a strange pyramid is floating in the sky, in which the gods of Ancient Egypt allow Horus one week on Earth. A eugenics scientist takes a young woman with blue hair into her care, a man named Nikopol is prematurely released from prison and the story unfolds from there.

It appears that Bilal adapted the film from his Nikopol Trilogy (La Foire aux Immortels, La Femme Piège and Froid Équateur), for which he does the artwork and the text. As I have said, I was thoroughly impressed by the visual aspects of the film, but the dialogue was painful. Perhaps it was Linda Hardy, a French actress, and Thomas Kretschmann, a German, speaking English that damaged the script:

Nikopol: You piece of shit! Your objectives are shit, your filthy rapist god ambitions are shit! You are so full of shit, Horus!
Horus: Coming from a human, remarks like that don’t carry much weight.

Ouch! Despite the screenplay being poor, the two lead actors (the only actors) were great. Kretschmann as Alcide Nikopol had a hardened appearance that captured my imagination and the best prosthetic limb in any movie, while the make-up on Linda Hardy was breathtaking, especially her hair and the blue tears. It was strange that the computer-generated characters were so poorly done when they were obviously going to be stood next to real people.

However, the CGI characters did have charisma and the imagination behind the eugenic humans was stunning. In addition, Bilal’s backgrounds, futuristic technology and locations must have inspired the Bladerunners, Stargates and Fifth Elements of the movie world. I read that Producer Charles Gassot, who’s a fan of Bilal’s work, invested over twenty million euros in this film and I believe he made a wise investment.

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