A psychedelic melodrama about a young soul floating in purgatory above Tokyo’s vice dens, Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void is one of the most visually stunning and viscerally brutal films of recent times. Shot entirely from the point of view of Oscar, a young drug dealer who gets killed at the start of the film, Noé’s camera flies around the neon city’s tarnished maze of love hotels, strip clubs and crack dens, following his mourning sister, Linda, as she tries to escape her shattered reality. Like his 2002 film Irreversible, which featured the infamous nine-minute subway rape scene, Noé actively challenges his audience at every turn, alternating between blinding them with strobe lighting, CGI visualisations of DMT hallucinations, and some of the most insane sex scenes ever committed to celluloid. Written over the past 15 years, Enter the Void is Noé’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a trippy masterpiece that confronts the meaning of life in uncompromising fashion. Here the 46-year-old director talks about the human soul, his own relationship to death, and the power of drugs to open up visions of the after life.
Gaspar Noé: I believe there’s something called a “soul” that is far more powerful than we think, but I think the soul is connected to the flesh. I believe that once you are dead, your memories disappear, you melt into the ground and then you’re done. But I believe in the soul. If there was no soul how could you take the shape you take while you grow?
I don’t believe in all those stories that religions tell you about life after death, or a future life where you will be rewarded for everything you did in this life. Those are brainwashing tools that religions built up to control people. I’m an atheist, not a Buddhist.
The closest experience I’ve had of dying was doing Ayahuasca, which is a drink full of DMT you take in the Amazon jungle. At a point you don’t know where the fuck you are, in which world you are, if you’re human or inhuman, or if you’re even on a planet. That’s not an experience close to death but it’s an experience that is very far from your everyday experience of life. It is not an out-of-the-body experience, I went somewhere else – I was in my mind but never came out of my body like Oscar does in the movie. I totally forgot that I was living in a world. Sometimes it happens when you dream.
They say that when you dream your brain releases natural DMT in small amounts. Our species needs to clean our brains every night of all the events of the previous week, and DMT makes your brain get rid of all those memories. All the hallucinations we have are just enhanced dreams.”
Interview by Tim Noakes
Tim Noakes is Deputy Editor of Dazed & Confused magazine. Read more of his work at www.socialstereotype.com