Heaven and Hell –

A new psychedelic movie I watched last week thrust me back to bardos I had not wandered since the 70’s. “Enter the Void” concerns the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”. The movie is shocking and heavy-handed.  The acting isn’t really very good, but the film is relentless once it hooks you. You’re glad they’re not better actors or it might leave a deeper scar. At more than one point I had to take my eyes off the screen. It was too long.  So is hell.  I looked around at the audience. No one was breathing. The movie theater felt like a Petri dish.  Images and sound suspended us in a synthesis of color/shadow, movement, noise/music, editing, “high” art and blood red drama.

For an entirely different example of psychedelic cinema, have a look at another recent popular film, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” This hilarious and prolonged derangement of the senses comes courtesy of the video game that is teenager Scott Pilgrim’s life. Hallucinogenic stories like these are able to sell their hyper-realities thanks to a firmly established psychedelic appetite in the modern audience. Like acid tests, the lens tracks themes of Pilgrim’s progress from random to ego shaking.  Scott racks up more and more multidimensional payoffs as he learns new rules and adapts to shifting circumstances.

It is good to see the psychedelic experience imaginatively presented in popular movies because of how much that can help us think outside the box.