Sunday, March 3, 2013

Enter the Void (Literally)

            Director Gaspar Noe’s 2010 film, Enter the Void, follows a drug dealing teen Oscar, after killed by police in Tokyo, watches over his sister from the “otherworld.” This French film which is written and directed by experimental artist, Mr. Noe, stars Nathaniel Brown, Cyril Roy, and Paz de la Huerta. Set in the neon-lit nightclub environment of Tokyo, Enter the Void calls for some pretty amazing special effect work. In itself, the film is an experimental journey of a brother, sister, drugs, and faith and the afterlife. All of these attributes are seen through Gaspar Noe’s vision, the music selection, cinematography, and especially the special effects.
            One of the most intriguing and perplexing special effects medium is the fact that most of the film is shot from Oscar’s (the brother and protagonist) eyes. And I don’t mean that the film is shot from a mostly first person narrative camera angle, but literally the film is shot from his point of view. As one is watching the film, you can see his vision get blurry as he quickly looks at of his peripherals, his vision get hazy and hallucinogenic while he is on a high, and you can even see him blink periodically throughout the film. Now, I have no earthly idea how the production and camera team went about producing this piece of movie magic, but they certainly did, and quite successfully, I might add. There was not one second that I did not believe that I was looking at this dirty, bright Tokyo suburb through Oscar’s own two eyes.

            This film makes huge leaps cinematically with its use of experimental cinema, graphic design, computer generated effects, and scenery. Gaspar Noe dubs the film in his own words as, “psychedelic melodrama.” Noe’s dream project for years, he quickly grabbed up French effects publishing company, BUF Compagnie, to jump on the project to administer and create the special effects for this extravagant, avant garde, and experimental film. Emotionally, the film itself is breath-taking. It is not everyone’s “cup of tea,” and not many people will probably like this film, but just from its gigantic undertaking and leap in cinema history, should be greatly appreciated. There is a scene where Oscar is watching his sister from the alternate universe that he now lives in. He can float over Tokyo and to different locations and inside of rooms, it seems. Near the end, he is watching his best friend and sister have sex in what appears to be a Japanese “hotel” established for this very act. His view cuts from room to room, and you see different couples engaging in intercourse, but the odd thing about it is their genitals are bright with neon colors. Then Oscar begins to see his sister having sex again, but through the eyes of her partner. This movie is all about pushing the limits of storytelling and cinema. There are some things I cannot even mention in this paper because they are very liberal, free thinking ideas and scenes that might seem inappropriate. But that is what this film is about: experimental journey, adventure, and the journey that crosses social standards and lines.
            Looking into the logistics of how this film was made, I came across several interesting ways of building these shots and effects. There were helicopters used, and months of computer editing, and the rebuilding of sets and scenes via 3d animation. In our text, Everything’s an Argument, it states that “effects can tell a story without the actual story; it is a whole story of its own.” Logically, one must appreciate this movie for what it is, not what your personal taste in film is. This is a whole different category of its own. There really is not much more that I can say. That should tell you that you have to see this film to really understand what special effects and creative genius are.