Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Action, Animation
  • 2004
  • 99 mins




Enki Bilal brings the mannered universe of his own comic books to life in a hybrid mix of real and virtual action


New York, 2095. On the eve of an election, a giant stone pyramid has appeared, hovering over the cityscape, while Central Park has transformed into an icy gateway to another world. The falcon-headed Horus (Pollard), condemned by his fellow gods for acts of rebellion, has been granted seven days to revisit the earth that he helped to create before he will lose his immortality forever - but he has other plans.

Meanwhile, after legendary freedom fighter Alcide Nikopol (Kretschmann) is accidentally released from the airborne prison where he has been frozen for the last 30 years, corrupt Senator Allgood (Sheridan), and the even more corrupt biomedical multinational that backs him, take unorthodox measures to ensure that the fugitive dissident is prevented from revealing their past secrets. At the same time Inspector Froebe (Collette), whose face was once half-devoured by a mutant 'Dayak', is investigating a grisly series of murders whose victims appear to have exploded from the inside; while the alien physiology of amnesiac Jill Bioskop (Hardy) is undergoing a peculiar metamorphosis, overseen by both the sympathetic, if confounded, Dr Elma Turner (Rampling) and the otherworldly John (Pierrot) - and others, too, have their eyes on Jill...

Made at the same time as Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004) and Casshern (2004), Immortal can claim to be among the first films to have immersed flesh-and-blood actors into fully computer-generated backgrounds, creating a world both recognisable and infinitely strange, where mutant sharks ride the city plumbing system in search of their prey, where people are made up of body parts purchased from all over the world, where deities take over the bodies of compatible human hosts, and where, as in Brother From Another Planet, illegal aliens really are aliens. In the over-medicated melting pot that is writer/director Bilal's Big Apple of the future, humans, mutants, extraterrestrials and gods all go drinking in the same bar, and form is married to content as 'real' characters (Nikopol, Elma, Jill) mingle with CG-rendered 'virtual' characters (everyone - and everything - else) in a compellingly perverse union.

Immortality may be crammed with visual references to works of urban dystopia ranging from Metropolis to Brazil, from Blade Runner to The Matrix, from Q: The Winged Serpent to Stargate, and from The Fifth Element to Twelve Monkeys, but although its converging storylines are never difficult to follow, together they defy easy summary or categorisation.

Sure it is SF, but is also a theanthropic buddy flick, a bizarre love triangle, an immigrant's assimilation tale, a psychosexual mystery, a creation myth, an elegant piece of futurist noir, and a good old-fashioned monster movie, all rolled into one beautifully stylised package; and although Bilal has concentrated on only a few characters and narrative arcs from his comic books 'The Carnival Of Immortals' and 'The Woman Trap', he creates a fantasy metropolis so dazzlingly expansive that the film, far from being the mere sum of its plots, offers a template for a multi-layered universe in which the viewer could become lost forever.

The characterisation is not always as three-dimensional as the computer artwork, the dialogue occasionally dips into cheesiness, and the quality of the digital rendering varies from scene to scene, but nobody could accuse Immortal of being short of ideas, or failing to inspire awe.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Charlotte Rampling, Thomas M Pollard, Joe Sheridan, Frédéric Pierrot, Derrick Brenner, Linda Hardy, Thomas Kretschmann, Yann Collette, Corinne Jaber
  • Director: Enki Bilal
  • Screen Writer: Enki Bilal, Serge Lehman
  • Writer (Comic book): Enki Bilal
  • Producer: Charles Gassot
  • Photographer: Pascal Gennesseaux
  • Composer: Goran Vejvoda

In a nutshell

Bilal's adaptation of his own comics offers an exquisitely realised digital map of the future. Rarely is dystopian cyberpunk so inventive, so multi-faceted, or so strange.

by Anton Bitel

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Carry On Jack

    Bernard Cribbins, Juliet Mills and Kenneth Williams star in Gerard Thomas's 19th-century high-seas romp, the first of the Carry On comedies to adopt period costume.

  • Film4

    Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon

    Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Lionel Atwill star in director Roy William Neill's Second World War spy adventure.

  • Film4

    Youth on Film4

    Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz star in Film4s first play of Youth, from acclaimed director Paolo Sorrentino

  • Film4

    Young Adult on Film4

    Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson star in Young Adult, playing on Film4 for the first time.

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register