Gaspar Noé

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Gaspar Noé (Spanish pronunciation: [gasˈpar noˈe]; born December 27, 1963) is an Argentine film director and screenwriter.

  • (About his movie Enter the Void): I read books on reincarnation and many books about out-of-body experiences. Actually, the movie is not so much about reincarnation. It's more about someone who gets shot while on acid and DMT [Dimethyltryptamine], and trips out about his own death and dreams about his soul escaping from his flesh, because he wants to keep this promise to his sister that he'll never leave her, even after death.
  • Towards the end, the weird trip turns into a bad trip, like sometimes mushroom trips or acid trips turn into bad trips. But a bad trip can be very rewarding, because when you come out of one, it's like coming out of a bad dream where you get killed or something, and the moment you wake up, you still feel the presence of that reality and the dream, or the nightmare, is always real. But you feel so safe coming back to the real world, and some people said when they came out of this movie that they were still scared.
Kubrick said something about 2001, that it's an acid religious movie. I did another acid movie pretending to be religious or Buddhist, but at the end, it's dysfunctional enough to see that it's not all it seems.
  • Actually, I drank a few times Ayahuasca, which is a drink full of DMT that is only legal in the Amazonian jungle, so you have to go there to take it. And when you drink it, you have visions that are far scarier or far more futuristic than any visions in altered states you can get from any other means.
You forget that you have a human form and that you're on a planet. It's a really hardcore experience that I absolutely do not regret, as when I went there I was already thinking about this project, and I was thinking about images. It was almost like professional research.
So, you always have this excuse, that you're not just going there for some existential means, you're going there for professional reasons.
  • I came back, and one day I was in a city where a guy told me about smokeable DMT, and I said I know, there's another version of DMT that you smoke that lasts as fine and strong. And I said that when I smoked DMT once, it's like an Ayahuasca trip, with the promise that Ayahuasca lasts four or five hours, and that seems like a whole day.
Sometimes it's like a crazy journey, but when you smoke DMT you say, "Oh, I had a great trigger for a four hour movie, or a one-day-long movie and then I did a second time and once again the trip was very intense, but it just does it for five minutes, and then the moment was gone.
I said, "Well, instead of having the guy being on acid at the beginning, I should do a DMT trip that would last five minutes on screen like it lasts in real life," but the point then is how to portray those visions that are very graphic and very geometrical.
Very many people say that they look like the movie Tron, that they are just bright neon lights, and so, of course, they were going to be done with computer graphics, and hopefully I was working with this company who accepted not only to do the visual effects but also to co-produce the movie.
BUF are the best in France and Pierre Buffin, visual effects provider and co-producer of the movie, put me in contact with the best graphic designer since his company, but worried that his best graphic designers were doing DMT visions or that they had never even experienced mushrooms, so I had to have all these visual references. I want the shapes of the underwater forms of life. I want them to be made of neon lights and I want the background to be black. It has to be scary.
And they came up with many different visuals that were really amazing, that allowed them to make this five-minute film. At the end, some people who were DMT smokers, they came up to me and said it's close.
Sometimes when you're on Ayahuasca, you have visions that are almost too simple, too silly, to be spiritual images. You feel that you're going through a tunnel. It's like in dreams, where you never know if you're going to have a nightmare or a sweet dream. I read that maybe the molecule that makes you have dreams is the DMT that you have inside your brain.
So, actually, if you smoke it or you drink it, you have very long and colourful dreams that you would have any night, but only in a small amount. The DMT's inside your brain already.
And there's another theory that when people have these final trips where they're dying or near death, it's because of the amount of DMT. Because of a car crash, because of fear, because of this or that.
- Gaspar Noé Interview: Enter The Void, illegal substances and life after death

  • What’s the closest you’ve come to death?
(Long pause). Something to do with avoiding accidents, motorbike accidents, I avoided a few. Once I could of ended in prison, once I put myself in a very strange situation where I could be shot, erm but that’s just accidental one day then nothing happens. But I think the closest thing to what I think is the experience of dying was doing Ayahuasca. 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 your even in a planet or whatever, then your head goes somewhere else where you don’t even remember your breathing or you have a soul or personality, you’re just surrounded by visions, then slowly you come back to the idea that somebody is perceiving those visions, or something is perceiving those visions. Then you remember you have a human form and you remember there is a planet with humans inside, then you don’t know why you’re stuck in time. That’s not an experience close to death but it’s an experience that is very far from your everyday experience of life.
So did your experience with Ayahuasca directly influence Enter the Void? The outer-body experience?
Yeah but it is not out of my body it was out of my...somewhere, I was in my mind but it was…it never came out of my body like it was in the movie like where a bird could see me. I totally forgot that I was living in a world or it had a living film or whatever. Sometimes it happens when you dream. When you wake up in the morning, while you are sleeping you forget we have a human form or even live on a planet. Its weird how strong dreams are because when you wake up sometimes you’ve killed someone and when you can’t wake up you’ve really felt you’ve killed someone. You feel safer because you know your not going to go to prison because it was a dream. At the same time the feeling of having killed someone is still there and it feels real. They say that when you dream you dream because your brain releases natural DMT in small amounts. So for some reason always linked to the survival of the species you need to clean your brain every night of all the events of the previous week and DMT is in your brain to make you dream and make your brain get rid of all those memories. Ayahuasca is full of DMT, you can smoke DMT, but yeah, so at the end the hallucinations we have are just enhanced dreams if you smoke DMT or drink it.
- Tripping in Tokyo
  • The story came to him when he was 25 (he is now 47), as a result of watching The Lady in the Lake – the gimmicky 1940s noir thriller shot entirely in point-of-view – while under the influence of magic mushrooms. "Since then, from time to time, I've tried psychedelics, almost in a practical way because I knew I wanted to do some psychogenic movie," he says. He's taken LSD four or five times in his life, he says, but doesn't smoke joints any more "because I get paranoid every time." He's smoked DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and even went to the Peruvian jungle once to drink ayahuasca, the psychoactive brew of the native Indians ("it's extremely powerful"). "They're not recreational drugs," he says. "They're mind-opening, and that can be extremely scary, so it was kind of work. Research."
- Gaspar Noé: 'What's the problem?'
  • (Talking with Daniel Pinchbeck): Actually the first time I heard of you was when I read your book Breaking Open The Head. Among the description of all the other substances in that book, the description of how ayahuasca or DMT affects your mind was the best description I had ever read. Those visions of cities from above, made of neon lights etc. At one point I tried to rewrite my script according to your descriptions but in the end I didn’t. I thought that it was good to have in mind that I was not the only one to have visions of towers, of strange buildings when I was on DMT.
DP: What for you is beyond the visual aspects of it, what’s the value or philosophical meaning of these psychedelic experiences for you?
GN: The toughest part, or maybe the most essential or useful part, is when you start doubting yourself and your ego. You don’t know what the fuck you are, what the fuck a human is, humankind, history, time and sometimes when you get close to those questions you can faint.
DP: You can faint?
GN: Yeah, I fainted two or three times. Then when you wake up you know that your head went too far. When you come back to reality it takes you some time to understand that you’re on a planet, that you’re a kind of mammal, maybe human, maybe with a name and somewhere in history. But I remember that when it goes that far I see [makes a whooshing noise] flashing lights just before I faint.
DP: Yeah, I have actually grown really fond of that experience. It’s like you get a chance to experience yourself as consciousness without your name and identify and that stuff. It’s like a great vacation.
GN: Yeah but it didn’t happen to me to the point where it happened to you, because in your book the scariest chapter was the one on DPT [Dipropyltryptamine, an artificially produced hallucinogenic drug]. For sure I’ll never try DPT after reading your description. But over time DMT can get close to that experience you describe where everything turns, not evil but everything turns alien, and you feel you’re like possessed by some alien, another form of life. You can get into zones where you almost think like a robot or like an ant, without having any emotional attachment to the people you like the most. It’s weird because you reconsider your life and things that really seem essential to you, you can consider them in the coldest way you could imagine.
  • When I was in Peru I had “dark ayahuasca” or “black ayahuasca.” I don’t know if it had Datura inside but it was like a trip to hell. I saw some cartoonish spiders, [shudders] floating towards me as if they were dolphins and then… pfff… everything turned really, really dark. It was a dark trip. Sometimes you see visions of flying saucers from the inside, like at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Chatter: In the Void
  • Were there any particular drugs that influenced the film’s hallucinogenic sequences?
Most movies created with drugs are mostly conceived with cocaine, speed or opiates. Then there are a few movies that have been trying hard to reproduce what an altered state of consciousness under mushrooms is like. But I’d say 99.9% of the movies fail because it’s really hard. Since I’ve been thinking about the project, each time I would see a psychedelic movie, or each time I would smoke or whatever, I would try to think about how it could be done in a better way, and how it could be done in a more accurate way. To transcribe those experiences into a flat screen.
Some people who’ve been doing DMT complained to me that the DMT scenes are getting close [to the actual experience], but at the same time very far, because the actual patterns one sees are more geometrical, and that they move much faster than those in the film. But it’s hard, it’s really hard. I’ve tried my best, but I guess in many ways Kenneth Anger got closer to an LSD experience with “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome” or Jordan Belson with his short films than I got with this one. This one is more of a narrative movie trying to play with the senses.
  • When I started studying cinema, I was watching “Eraserhead” over and over. I also discovered “Altered States” and I discovered maybe LSD and mushrooms at the same time. And I thought it would be good to do a movie from the perspective of the main character, like “Lady in the Lake,” but in which you would follow the guy and his hallucinations. Then I read these books about life after life, and the “Tibetan Book of the Dead,” and I thought it could be even better if the guy dies and you see him floating above the living, like all these reports of out-of-body experiences. Also, I really, really like all those astral shots, which are often in Brian De Palma’s movies, where the camera is floating above people.
- Gaspar Noé's Trip into the Void