Friday, October 1, 2010
Film Review : Enter The Void
Gaspar Noe’s groundbreaking visionary masterpiece takes us where no film has gone before. The film centers around the heavy psychotropic chemical Dimethyptamine, a drug used ritually for ages world wide by everyone from curious intellectuals to South American tribesmen. The fact that Gaspar is putting such an important yet underground practice on the world stage for the first time is a monumental achievement in itself. DMT can be extracted from naturally growing plants or made in a lab. When you smoke it, it is one of the most powerful encounters of any sort one can have- just ask anyone who has done it. It's indescribable but something like a serious dimensional trip to the inner realms of consciousness- all ecstatically displayed in fractal beings growing around you as you melt through them. The drug also is stored in the frontal lob of the human brain, and it released a little when you sleep and a lot when you die. That is why it has such mystical qualities. Many say the DMT is trip the death experience. And that is what Mr. Noe’s film is about, among other things, - the relationship between the psychedelic experience and death. Enter the Void. Is the Void life? Is the Void death?
The story contains two major DMT trips: In the first, already high on acid, the main character, Oscar, smokes some alone in his room and for a good five minutes the film drops into the most incredibly realistic hallucinogenic visuals I have ever seen- outside actually smoking DMT or dropping acid. An extremely deep song by Coil plays over this sequence. Note: This film demands to been seen in a theater for the full effect. The second trip is later when Oscar dies and DMT is released from his brain. That is a very disturbing scene as we hear Oscar thinking his last thoughts as he dies. Here, as he has the DMT death trip, Noe launches the cinema into blinding and blinking white lights slowly morphing into unrecognizable forms..... really, really, far out shit. From then on we follow Oscar around as he flashes back to what led up to his killing- up until he sees himself die again. He then becomes a spirit or god or ghost floating above the neon lights of his seedy Tokyo neighborhood where he looks down upon the aftermath of his death. The ghost/spirit POV technique allows for some seriously mental camera work- soaring over the city, swooping into and out of rooms full of psychedelic lighting that the characters inhabit. As we travel through the wormholes of his mind we also peer into defining moments of his past, which after a while creates a otherworldly yet somehow personal cinema. And because this may possibly be the DMT trip he is having before he dies, there are all sorts of subtle and not so subtle tripped out flourishes in every detail- that I, personally, found mind blowing. This is stuff we have never seen in cinema before. I won’t go into too many more details but there are stories within all this, and the end brings things full circle yet keeps the themes open to interpretation.
There are some great dance party scenes when the characters are on MDMA that really evoke what it can be like to be high as fuck in an intense club. If you’re thinking this sounds like a trippy hippie movie, think again- there are some seriously dark hellish moments in this film. We get abortion, exploitation, grief, agony, car accidents, senseless killing, and one seriously bad trip. While all this is obviously not for everyone, this film really spoke to me at a deep level.
Noe has created an entirely original film, a near impossible task these days. I think those of us that have had similar experiences to what Gaspar is communicating in the film will have their brain blown open and any one else with artistic sensibilities and a stomach for experiential experiments will love this too. Oh yeah, the credit sequence is the most bad ass you will ever see. And the soundtrack is one long experiment ambient masterwork with music by the aforementioned Coil, as well as Zbigneiw Karkowski, Alvin Lucier, and Throbbing Gristle. Not only is Enter the Void the first film to deal with psychedelia in a serious manner but it is also a beautiful and relevant meditation on the greatest of all mysteries, death.