Gaspar Noé: A soulful adventurous filmmaker of our time | Sunday Observer

Gaspar Noé: A soulful adventurous filmmaker of our time

10 October, 2021

Gaspar Noé  is an Argentine filmmaker based in Paris, France. He is the son of Argentine painter, writer and intellectual Luis Felipe Noé. He has directed seven feature films: I Stand Alone (1998), Irréversible (2002), Enter the Void (2009), Love (2015), Climax (2018), Lux Æterna (2019), and Vortex (2021).

Over his relatively short career, Noe has garnered a disproportionate amount of press for his controversial films. First, he made I Stand Alone, then Irréversible. Both provocatively deal with violent men in violent situations; in the first case, incest, and, with the second, brutal rape.

Then he made the mystically-infused Enter The Void featuring the ever-seductive Paz de la Huerta (now starring in Boardwalk Empire). Though it is rife with violent scenes, it is not a violent film like the others. Based on a reading of the Tibetan Book of The Dead, Enter The Void takes the audience through a man’s first few minutes after his death. As his spirit, essence, or whatever you want to call it, travels through the city, over rooftops, we see a series of flashbacks until his ‘soul’ reincarnates in the next vessel that will emerge as another life takes shape in a graphic sex scene.

Noé was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father Luis Felipe Noe is of Spanish, Italian, and French-Basque descent while his mother, Nora Murphy is of Irish and Spanish descent. He lived in New York City for one year as a child, and his family emigrated to France in 1976, to avoid the tense, dangerous political situation in Argentina at the time. Noé graduated from Louis Lumière College in France.

His work has been strongly associated with a series of films defined as the cinéma du corps/cinema of the body, which according to Tim Palmer share an attenuated use of narrative, generally assaulting and often illegible cinematography, confrontational subject material, a treatment of sexual behaviour as violent rather than mutually intimate, and a pervasive sense of social nihilism or despair.

Noé often breaks the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience through the use of confronting, and sometimes strobing, typography that aims to ‘disrupt and disturb’ a viewer, similar to the typographical methods practised by Jean-Luc Godard.

Three of his films feature the character of a nameless butcher played by Philippe Nahon: Carne, I Stand Alone and, in a cameo, Irréversible.


The films of Stanley Kubrick are one source of inspiration for Noé, and he occasionally makes references to them in his own works. Noé stated in the September 2012 edition of Sight & Sound magazine that seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey at the age of seven changed his life, without which experience he would never have become a director.

Noé also cites the 1983 Austrian serial killer film, Angst, by Gerald Kargl, as a major influence.

In an exclusive interview with the international press, Noe once said, “I’m not Buddhist. I don’t believe in religion; I don’t even believe in the survival of the mind after death. I believe that there are forces and connections between humans in their lifetimes but I don’t think they will ever exist on another dimension. I don’t believe in good and evil, I don’t believe in positive and negative energy. There is an energy of life or course that fights for the survival of the species, so whatever keeps you alive is good for the survival of the species. There is a meaningful energy which is the sexual energy.”

Personal life

He is married to filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilović. Though an Argentinian and Italian citizen through his parents, Noé has spent the entirety of his professional career in France. However, contrary to some reports, he is not a French citizen.

Noé suffered a near fatal brain hemorrhage in 2019, which partly inspired the plot of his film Vortex.