In the world of Gaspar Noé, death is not simply a void or darkness (or even an afterlife), but rather an acid trip through famous territories of cinematic experimentation. It seems impossible to think of Enter the Void without thinking of its obvious inspirations: the first person POV of Lady in the Lake, Tony Conrad’s incessant Flicker, the deliriousness of Kenneth Anger’s The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, and last but not least, Douglas Trumbull’s notoriously trippy Star Gate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. While these references and inspirations (which by the way don’t stop at the aforementioned) are particularly glaring, they aren’t essential to our collective understanding of the film, but are merely technical notes. Because Void, if it is anything at all, is an experience: a full-on sensory assault, free of form and flowing through space and time itself, an out of body experience for the drug user and cinephile inside us all. Hovering shots from a bird’s eye view zip through walls and ceilings, strip clubs and sleazy motels, the past and present, the void and back again, pulsating with the gaudy neon lights of Tokyo. The story, of sibling love as the result of severe trauma and separation, is vulgar in its simplicity and adolescent in conception, but here at Sculpting in Dimes we prefer not to compartmentalize the unique aspects of the filmmaking process: the film is the film. And Void, spanning an entire lifetime (and beyond) and presented non-linearly as a series of brief and often melodramatic moments, annihilates notions not only of traditional narrative, but of nihilism as well. Noé might not believe in much, but his strict adherence to repetition and a whacked-out stroboscopic first-person aesthetic reveal a deeply human curiosity for what Jean-Paul Sartre, in Nausea, called “the feeling of adventure”:
If I remember correctly, they call that the irreversibility of time. The feeling of adventure would simply be that of the irreversibility of time. But why don’t we always have it? Is it that time is not always irreversible? There are moments when you have the impression that you can do what you want, go forward or backward, that it has no importance; and then other times when you might say the links have been tightened and, in that case, it’s not a question of missing your turn because you could never start again.