Enter the Void Film Review
Enter If You Must A testament of cinematic genius, a daring and psychedelic composition, an adventure through reality and the afterlife: Enter the Void is unlike any movie one has seen or probably will see in the future. Written and directed by the Frenchman Gaspar Noe, Enter the Void is a complex film that constantly experiments with the director’s unique visual style. Enter the Void follows the tragic story of a young American drug dealer, Oscar, as he struggles to survive in the neon-lit and chaotic streets of Tokyo. Early in the film, Oscar is shot and killed in a drug bust gone wrong.
The rest of the film is captured from the perspective of Oscar’s spirit, as he revisits important moments of his past and watches over his loved ones. Enter the Void challenges all theories about life and death, explores the world of drugs and sex, and reaffirms the true value of a brother and sister relationship. However, what makes Enter the Void especially distinct is that the camera only shoots through the first-person perspective of Oscar, as we watch everything through his eyes.
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Noe’s commitment to presenting the whole film through Oscar’s perspective dates back to films such as Robert Montgomery’s Lady in the Lake.
Noe is able to effectively bring the audience into Oscar’s conscience with this camera technique, and the detail makes the film all a more fascinating experience. Throughout the film, Noe consciously alters the POV-style of the camera to represent different stages of the character’s life. When Oscar is alive, the camera is strictly through his viewpoint, and we are reminded he is alive from his eyes blinking on the screen. This POV-style allows us to get to know Oscar on a very personal level, as his every action and thoughts are always seen by the audience from a perspective they are used to seeing their own life from.
When Oscar dies, Noe changes the camera to an over-the-shoulder shot, and all we can see is the back of Oscar’s head. This POV-style allows the audience to revisit moments of Oscar’s past from a different perspective, one that is uninviting, but it also allows the audience to finally be able to care for a character who they can see visibly. Eventually, Noe removes Oscar’s silhouette from view, and the camera hovers like a ghost over Tokyo in a fantastic out-of-body visual display. The swooping and soaring camerawork perfectly transcribes the feeling of Oscar’s spirit flying through the luorescent lights and towering skyscrapers on the Tokyo skyline. There is a dreamlike quality to this camera view, and Noe masterfully mesmerizes the audience with a psychedelic display of colors, lights, and movement. The different POV-styles of the camera are definitely an important tool that constantly reminds the audience what stage they are following Oscar in: Life, death, or in his memories. Without a doubt, Enter the Void courageously experiments with camera perspective, and Noe is able to create an exciting visual experience for the audience, while telling his story in a non-traditional manner.
Enter the Void is not only remarkable for its daring first-person perspective camera work, but Gaspar Noe’s brilliant use of computer-generated imagery allows him to visually synthesize the sex, drugs, and violence of this film, into a complex masterpiece. Noe is able to create a visual beauty and sense of spirituality through the help of computer-generated imagery, even allowing the audience to share Oscar’s experience hallucinating after smoking DMT. Noe experimented with hallucinogens in his youth, and his experiences had a profound influence on the visuals in Enter the Void.
He would often reference paintings, photographs, music videos, and other films in order to describe his psychedelic experiences to his design team. As Oscar starts his trip, the screen transforms into a collage of brightly lit shapes and colors. The elaborate designs and images incorporate the audience into Oscar’s character, a lost and troubled youth, and we experience his thoughts and viewpoint first hand. Noe experiments with a new language of film, as the various textures and morphing images he uses are essential in achieving a 3D feeling without any glasses.
Noe constantly breaks from the typical conventions of film, as he simultaneously combines experimental visuals with obscure POV-styles. When filming the camera shots hovering over Tokyo, Noe combined studio scenes, helicopter shots, and computer-generated imagery into one so the audience could not tell them apart. The dreamlike world of Enter the Void was achieved by accentuating the neon lights, reflections, and dark areas of Tokyo. Noe even experimented with motion blur, chromatic aberration, and focus effects to create the mysterious flickers that add to Tokyo’s sleazy psychedelic environment at night.
Noe’s visuals and unique storytelling methods definitely show similarities to his favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The light corridor scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey clearly influenced Gaspar Noe, as Noe re-creates the same feelings of amazement and mystery that come from special effects, camera movement, and lighting. Noe’s work has also been compared to Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, as they both have created experimental works that distort the formal elements of film, often in a frustrating, cruel, and provocative way.
Enter the Void is effectively able to draw the audience into the film through personal relationships with the characters, but it is the film’s fascinating use of visuals and CGI that makes it hold meaning with the audience on a spiritually mesmerizing level. Overall, Enter the Void is a phenomenal work that recognizes the experimental side of film, as it combines an unconventional plot, daring POV-styles, and outstanding computer-generated imagery.
Gaspar Noe masterfully combines digital effects with unique cinematic techniques, and as a result Enter the Void is a mind-altering experience that constantly challenges our theories on life, death, and the spiritual. Noe breaks away from the usual conventions of film, and this gives him the freedom to embrace his creativity, and follow his true passions. Enter the Void will surely take one on a captivating journey through hell and back, but more importantly it will open one’s eyes to how a director can expand the possibilities of film.