Jan Kounen dives us head first into the heart of the multifaceted « vape » universe with a journey around the globe to discover the on-going cultural revolution against the traditional tobacco cigarette. Between fact and fiction, you find a film engaged and energized.
Jan Kounen was born in Ultrecht on the 2nd of May 1964. He studied at the school of Art Decos in Nice, where he directed his first advertising movies and short films, including le Dernier Chaperon Rouge (1996). He then directed Dobermann (1997), Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009) etc.
When he made his debut with Doberman (1997) 20 years ago, many audiences were fascinated by the dazzling sense of speed created by Jan Kounen, a com- mercial film director. And his strength on visual creations became his trademark. The same goes for Vape Wave. The film is about looking back the history of tobacco, fo- cusing on electronic cigarettes, but it is different to the educational documentary of National Geographic. Vape Wave is a massive compilation that combines many var- ious elements. Chaplin’s silent films, Hollywood classic films, animations, promotional footages, record films, and many other materials are transformed into quirky graphics through collages and montages. And the back- ground is created combining computer graphic images and staged screens, and the stories of interviewees are flowing over it. It is interesting to see that the elements of genre film frequently intervene in this documentary. Maybe it is the style of the director, showing up on the screen puffing out cigarette smoke, and it could be the reason that the story of cigarettes could be this refresh- ing. The first half of the film lists the history of tobacco and the love-hate relationship with the human; the second half focuses on electronic cigarettes, followed by a large number of interviews. Is electronic cigarette an alterna- tive to cigarettes or another harmful stimulant? The film does not deviate to one side, but it shows various ar- guments about electronic cigarettes and surprisingly broad cultural aspects about it. The documentary with an interesting subject is completed with even more in- teresting style. There is no time to be bored. If the viewer thinks that the existing documentaries are stagnant on the beauty of styles, this is a work that must be seen. (KIM Hyung-seok)