Enter the Void and Gaspar Noé’s esoteric psychedelia

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As an Argentinian director and screenwriter, who currently established in France, Gaspar Noé has a style which spans among photography, imagination and solitude. Among his most important cinematographic works we find Carne, Irréversible and the most recent erotic drama Love. Enter the Void was completed in 2009, presented at Cannes Film Festival that year, and it’s still one of the most beloved movies made by him.

The film opens with very fast, psychedelic screens, with a hard and rough background music, which breaks the ice immediately, gaining the attention of the spectator right away. The events are set in a futuristic, very colorful Tokio, shot mostly at night. It can be said that the main characters are two: Oscar, a drug dealer just arrived in Japan who shares an apartment with his sister Linda, the other protagonist, with whom he has a very deep bond.

A fundamental characteristic of the movie is that it’s shot on the protagonist’s point of view, with a hand camera which is assumed to be sticked to the actor’s head, creating a first-person effect where we also hear his thoughts, like in a video game. In fact, sometimes you can notice the eyelids closing and reopening on the screen, just like they were our eyes. Like we were Oscar.

Betrayed by a friend, the boy finds himself in a difficult situation, with the Japanese police who eventually kills him in a very claustrophobic and frightening scene, where we feel like dying together with him. From here the trip starts, a journey that the boy’s spirit will experience for the entire duration of the film, where he is looking for something between memories of the past, of the present and the flashes of a chaotic future. The story is inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Bardo Thodol, which describes the experiences that the soul lives in the aftermath of death, in particular all the experiences that lie between the death and the rebirth of an individual, according to Buddhist’s religion and culture.

Enter-the-void-poster
Enter the Void, the official poster of the film

For long time this film was the most passionate project by the Argentine director. Defined by himself as a psychedelic melodrama, it’s a movie characterized by very interesting cinematographic techniques, such as phosphorescent lights, neons, bright colors and impressive shootings, with additional elements introduced by computer graphics. The kaleidoscopic photography places it among those films considered in a limbo between visual arts and cinema, or in the so-called experimental psychedelic cinema. The film, which lasts 160 minutes, may seem very slow in some places, but it’s all oriented to give a hallucinogenic and deforming effect of reality, in which Gaspar Noé intends to create a disturbing and perverse experience between sex, drugs and hallucinations, hitting the spectator with his typical sincerity. In these saturated and mystified scenes, death and life are placed in a unique dimension, one next to each other.

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