Sunday, February 27

Review: Enter the Void

Through the eyes of Oscar, we look at an airplane flying over Tokyo. Our sister stands next to us. We propose doing drugs. She tells us that we're becoming a junkie and leaves angrily. After she's gone, we quickly light up. We experience the most wondrous things. While we're still tripping, Victor calls us and asks if we have any stuff. When we arrive at the bar where we arranged to meet, Victor seems distressed. The reason for this becomes quickly clear: policemen burst down the door and we flee into the toilet, where we quickly flush our drugs. And then we get shot.

Enter The Void, which is inspired (amongst other things) by the Tibetian Book of the Dead, is filmed entirely in first-person perspective. But because the protagonist gets shot within 15 minutes, most of the film is seen through the eyes of his disembodied ghost floating over Tokyo, while he has flashbacks to his youth and watches the aftermath of his death unfolds.

This is the point where the review tells you what the movie tries to achieve, and whether it succeeded (to quote Roger Ebert). I'm not entirely sure if the principal goal of the movie is to explore the themes of death, sex and reincarnation or to just give us the cinematic trip of a lifetime, but it definitely succeeds at the latter. From a purely technical point of view, this is a masterpiece of cinematic immersion. Because of the perspective and the unique visuals (best described as a stroboscope on acid) it's almost impossible to look away from.

This is honestly the closest I've ever come to tripping without using drugs.

But this movie isn't meant as a technical exercise. This is an injection of pure, unfiltered experience right to the brain. Most films show you a situation different from our own. Enter the Void has us experience a plain of existence different from our own. It's a long movie, and one of the most hypnotic pieces of cinema I've ever seen. Since you watch everything from the perspective of one of the characters, it's impossible to take a step back and reflect on what's happened. You're just dragged through the biggest trip since 2001: a Space Odyssey. The only difference being that that movie is Sesame Street compared to this.

Gaspar Noe, the director of this movie, isn't exactly known for his delicate subject matters, and Enter the Void is no different from that. We witness, nay experience murder, vulgar sex, drug abuse, abortion and some rather disquieting incestuous undertones. I've seen enough movies to not be squeamish anymore, but this movie shocked me to my very core and left me an empty shell of a person. It took me almost an hour of numbly walking around to get myself back together.

The strange thing is that I'd still very much recommend you go see Enter the Void. I don't expect you to like it; in fact, it'd be rather disturbing if you did. Even the most hardcore cinemagoers won't be able to "handle" this film, so you'd best just give yourself over to it. Nietzsche told us that the abyss would stare back if we would stare too long. Enter the Void proves that "too long" is a lot shorter then you'd expect.


The Mars Volta helped me with the getting back. If The Mars Volta is the average of real life and something else, you can probably imagine that the "something else" has to be quite fucked up.

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