Director Spotlight: Gaspar Noé – Words: Tracy Terror

Cinema has, for the most part, been taken at an at-heart value for me – there are a number of classic films out there, as well as those which are easily forgettable and although it all comes to acquired taste, there is without a doubt those select few out there which strike a chord within the core of our hearts and minds. This makes the appeal of certain styles of film and directors all the more valuable on a personal level for us, in the sense of which our beings can place certain traits or events in film into aspects of our lives – past, present or future. Or perhaps they all come into full circle when the power of cinema successfully works its magic. One of my favorite directors, Gaspar Noé has inaugurated his own unique style of film-making which has altered my view on independent films and just the film industry in general. With his notorious 2002 movie “Irréversible”, Noé has established profound recognition for controversial themes which appear disturbing and even unbearable for those who find such things hard to stomach – but it is no less than real and exposes the cold, concealed ugliness of the world we live in. For Noé, censorship is the intolerance, and the boundaries for film-making are nearly endless, such as the line between art and obscenity. But is the line actually there at all? Although it varies on perspective from person to person, according to Noé, “Very frequently what a life boils down to is a single, very traumatizing experience”, and sometimes those experiences be lived or come to life by an action or experience of a fictitious character who opens up a gateway to a realm of love, hate, pain, and all else in between which makes us feel “alive” at our fullest.

One of Noé’s most visually appealing and surreal films is “Enter The Void”, released in 2009. It is a lengthy film which lasts for over 2 hours, with some of the most beautifully crafted CGI and digital image effects I have ever seen. Although it would be a novel to type up about the plot of the movie, as the scenes and perspectives shift constantly, a brief summary of the movie can be put as: It is simply a mind-opening experience from a first-person perspective, no sugar-coated dialogues or false sense of comic relief here. It is a transcendent journey of life and death, inspired by the Bardo Thodol “Tibetan Book of the Dead” and results in a combination of complexity, love and tragedy. Noé tends to formulate a pattern of testing the limits of human devotion and survival. Although this may appear to be negative or distressing to some, it is the ‘tick’ of human emotions which only drives him further into his madness and inspiration to create such unforgettable visuals which activates our thinking minds and disregard all else which distracts us from it. In both “Enter The Void” and “Irréversible”, we get lost further and further down the nest of where the main characters are faced with their innermost fears which stare back at them with cold, remorseless gazes which feel as if we (as observers/the audience) are stripped of our humanity, when in fact it is the complete opposite of what we are exposed to. It is the projection of such visuals which opens up new realms, whether for “good” or “bad”, it awakens something within us which we either try to bury or leaves us craving for more. The most primitive human needs which we are both sublimally exposed to and repressed – sex and violence, love and hate, there is either too little or too much of it which we are “permitted” to have, but there is no in between or “middle ground” of where Noé stands in his films which portray and are inspired by such. The human mind is something which holds no limitations, and Noé has mastered the craft of creating metaphorical masterpieces in a strangely straightforward manner. Although these two films aforementioned above are most notoriously known alongside his name, he has also done short films and collaborations on titles such as “Sodomites”, “Destricted”, and “Carne” (and his first full-length which follows up to that called “Seul Contre Tous/I Stand Alone”). Innocence is but a shattered, rose-colored cathedral in the land of neon lights, abandoned alleyways and graveyards of still-borns.