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Enter the Void

From woe to go Gaspar Noe’s (director of Irreversible) new film Enter the Void is a brutal filmic assault.

The title sequence (shown above) is a kind of sober up ‘slap in the face’ before the visually torturous (at times) 161 minute journey through neon soaked Tokyo begins.

The story is told/seen through the disembodied spirit of a deceased drug dealer who watches over his grieving sister, and the unique perspective allows Noe to frequent all sorts of places where cinema rarely dares go, including the inside of an abortion operating room, horrific car accidents and plenty of other traumatic landscapes.

The vision Noe has presented is completely deranged, occasionally awe inspiring, and almost impossible to watch. The frequent use of strobing neon light combined with thumping beats lulls you into an almost hallucinatory viewing experience. Or at least that’s what’s intended; more often than not I had my hand in front of the screen to shield my eyes from the painful blinking lights. If you’re at all susceptible to flickering lights, do not watch this film.

Although an incredibly difficult and confronting film to watch, its construction reminded me a lot of the short fiction format.

Enter the Void is a film concerned solely with presenting a uniform vision, a warped slice of time, and Noe is willing to bend and collapse all the traditional boundaries of film narrative in order to achieve that vision. He employs the camera like it were an omniscient narrator, able to see and do anything, floating above and within characters, liberally warping time and reality to re-construct a unique experiential narrative.

Similarly, I see this as the role of the short story writer; to render, through experimentation and style, a slice of experience that is both immediate and complete – like jumping into a hot bath.

Free from the narrative pressures and practicalities of a longer work, the short format gives writers licence to reconstruct the more immediate and elusive experiences that aren’t covered by longer formats. And to only use the bare essentials of structured narrative in doing so.

A chance for the author to express a vision without compromise, prepared only to guide the reader in, ready to shove them into the void.