Like a storm, raging through the synapses of the brain. Like a cloud, millions of star systems orbiting around a galactic central axis. A dispersive amorphous map of smoke pulsates: purples morph into orange morph into white morph into red. Like an eye – a big, bloodshot eye – staring down at you,
Enter the Void has some of the most potent cinematic images ever created – beginning with Oscar’s trip-out with a toot on a wee pipe of DMT (Dimethyltryptamine): a six minute real-time odyssey of abstract shapes overwhelming a willing consciousness. This pattern image – which is at the centre of the film’s opening sequence – is a beautiful expression of an intensive state: a formless, dispersive cinematic duration. Oscar has seen his sister, Linda, out of the Tokyo apartment where they both live and is awaiting the arrival of Alex, his friend. Director Gasper Noé utilises the point-of-view shot, aligning camera perception with the perception of the character – even inserting a black frame every few seconds mimicking the blinking of Oscar’s eyes. Similarly, the speech and thoughts of Oscar are rendered in the same blank voice-over, sometimes making the status of speech and thought indeterminate. Noé will sustain this method of shooting Oscar both before and after the DMT trip, when Alex will arrive and they will walk the streets of Tokyo toward the club where Victor is waiting for a drug deal. The only exception to this rule will be the DMT trip sequence, which begins and ends by cutting in with blurred staccato images of Oscar lying on his unkempt bed, zoned out. An out of body experience, a body looking at itself from a disjunctive position, a hallucination, a fantasy. After the trip, after the stroll through Tokyo to the club and Victor, Oscar will be shot by the police in the toilet of The Void. As he dies – his consciousness appears to leave his body, the camera gazes down upon Oscar, curled up in shit, piss and pills, his blood seeping across the broken tiles. Accordingly, the DMT trip will become the impetus for the main section of the film. An out of body experience – Oscar traversing the past, present and future. A cavalcade of images from Oscar’s past, the present where Linda, Alex, and Victor live through the aftermath of Oscar’s passing, and various possible futures. Past, present and future interweave to create a fluid mosaic, fragments from the past, present and future, mental landscapes and disparate bodies – from the point-of-view of the dead Oscar. Finally, in a short coda – Oscar is reborn.
Enter the Void is an exceptional cinematic event: a time-image – which through its extreme cinematic processes can be said to explore in particularly productive circumstances what Deleuze names hyalosigns, chronosigns, and noosigns. Time-image fragments, narrations and narratives. In so doing, the film is an exemplary lectosign: an image which must and can only be interpreted, an image which is in itself an interpretation...
To read the full exploration of Enter the Void through the Deleuze's sign of the 'lectosign,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images
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