Enter the Void is Gaspar Noé ‘s third feature film.
Enter the Void is Tokyo on LSD, DMT and MDMA.
Enter the Void will get you high.
It’s also your mom.
All of these things are true. It’s fairly taxing to neatly wrap up and present a film as ambitious, sprawling and simultaneously simple as Enter the Void. At its most basic, the film has us following the adventures and revelations of a freshly-disembodied soul in Shinjuku via a jaw-dropping array of techniques and effects, including first-person POV, woosh-through-walls-and-above-Tokyo overhead shots, 3D imaging and massive amounts of other enhancements. At its most potent, Enter the Void‘s combination of a simple plot & predominantly amateur actors with flawless use of exceptionally difficult techniques creates a viewer experience so unique and powerful, it’s bound to spawn a cinematic movement. It better. Because this bombastic, gorgeous spectacle is also a vehicle that plugs you in and allows you to [almost subconsciously] impart your own meaning over a minimal framework of ideas through the use of repetition and lulls in the narrative.
Of course, this also explains the split reaction of the critics: with a running time of 161 minutes, Enter the Void was often too long for seekers of pure entertainment, and too obnoxious for lovers of traditionally-cerebral cinema. But this was the film Noé set out to create when he first started making movies, and after years of waiting for the freedom and money to do so, he left no stop unpulled:
I tried to get very close to an altered state of consciousness. Or, I tried to, in a cinematic way, reproduce the perception of someone who is on drugs. And there are moments in the movie closer to a dream state, and through that, many people have told that they felt stoned during the movie, and felt they had gone on an acid trip. And there are people who are comfortable with that. But maybe for the people who don’t enjoy losing control of their perceptions, maybe that is where they get annoyed with me. For example, people who have done acid in their youth or whenever, they say they feel like doing acid again after the movie. But people who have never done drugs, or only smoked marijuana, they say to me, “After watching your movie, I know what drugs feel like… but now I will never never never do them.” [laughs]
Through the movie, I wanted to wash myself free of expectations, I was not trying to upset people, but I don’t care if they are. I did the movie for myself and my friends. You work in cinema, you might consider what a director you respect thinks of your film.
80-percent of Enter the Void is a traditional narrative movie. I suppose it’s more similar to Jacob’s Ladder or Videodrome than it is to Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome by Kenneth Anger, which is very experimental. It’s the other 10% of 20% that reminds you of the language and glamour of dreams.
Instead of reading a laundry list of potentially offensive concepts and imagery in Enter the Void, consider this: 1. If you remember that Noé’s previous film featured a 10-minute rape scene, this one is kind of a cakewalk. 2. The only way to Enter the Void is with a mind wide-open and all aversions on Pause. After you’ve watched the film [ideally the original, un-cut version], take a look at this discussion over at Factual Opinion, and these two interviews with Noe. The trailer and the much-talked-about opening title sequence, below.