The beauty of Gaspar Noe’sfilms lies indeath where the narratives of life start with a void, take apsychedelic tour and then enter a void keeping theaudienceastonished. Till now, he has created five excellent art pieces in the name of feature film and all of them are written in the language of nightmares. These nightmares are well-treated andfilled with neon lights. Before talking about his films, let’s take a glimpse of his life.
After completing the high school, Gaspar started working as a comic book artist and as an illustrator. But as he says, he wasn’t very good in it(or maybe he didn’t enjoy it), he wanted to do something else. So, he went to a film school for two years where he did his first short film as a director. The short film was quite well-made and appreciated. Later, he started assisting directors and writing scripts. ‘Carne’ was one of those scripts.
It’s inspiring for aspirant filmmakers to know that it took a long time to shoot ‘Carne’ but once it released in 1991, it was quite successful and premiered in Cannes. The film got prizes and many festivals including Sundanceaccepted it as a feature film, even though it was 40 minutes-long. He wanted to make a sequel so that it practically would be a feature film but he couldn’t get any financer in France. They thought the sequel directed by Gaspar will be a subversive one. They asked him to calm down and make normal movies with normal producers and actors. But Gaspar isn’t one of their mind. He always has philosophies and visions to portray on screen. In his early days, he had to pay the cost of being a visionary director in mainstream. He was rejected by a TV house named Canal+ which used to claim himself as the most modern thinking TV channel. Gaspar recalls his experiences, “the woman in-charge of feature film acquisition threw me out like a bump.” The idea of the movief was rejected and this rejection made him determined to complete it. He asked for help from his friends. Though he started but troubles didn’t end. In the middle of the shoot, he ran out of money and went under debt. At the point he got financial help from one of his admirers, named Agnes B.
Just after that, Carne was released in Japan, Gaspar sold the movie and whatever amount he got, he thought to use itfor editing of the sequel. It took him 4 years to complete the sequel which he named ‘Seulcontretous’. Meanwhile, he started another movie named “La Bouche de Jean Pierre” [Parental Guidance, 1996]with his girlfriend Lucile Hadzihaliovic as a producer. Almost all the money he had for the sequel, was invested in this film. While talking on all of these challenges Gaspar says, “Maybe there have been some very bad experiences, but that was good for the movie”
Gaspar Noeis one of the rarest makers who created their own screen-language and metaphors to tell their stories. His passion for cinema and his inspirations can be seen in his films. He uses posters ofmovies likeTaxi Driver and Salo, 120 days of Sodom inthe art direction which reflects his taste of art. He creates unpleasant and disturbing images which provokes audience terribly. His first feature I stand alonewas refused all over in France. Though the film was set in the background of France and talked current socio-political conditions of the country but deep down it dealt with the moral and existential problems of a person. The film ends with a question of morality wherethe protagonist starts touching his daughter differently. The question arises in mind is, whether he had sex with her. There are two different answers which come from the maker and the actor. Gaspar agrees on the sexual relationship of protagonist and his daughter whereas the actor denies. It can be said that the film also hasa dark humor but most of the audience connect only with the dark part of it and can’t find the humor. It can be understood that if the film is too close to one’s personal approach of life, they cannot find any humor in it. Sometimes people who are already depressed in their lives don’t give apositive reaction to the film.
In his breakthrough “Irréversible” (2002), he puts the whole story in reverse. It starts with a scene where Marcus and his friend Pierre (Albert Dupontel) are furiously stalking through a gay club, Rectum, to get the rapist of Alex (Monica Bellucci), but technically it should be the last scene. On other hand, it ends with the intimacy of Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Alex (Monica Bellucci). The stalking scene is crafted in such a manner that it seems a nightmare. The use of hyper graphic violence and innovative cinematography make visuals stunning as well as disturbing.
In the premier in Cannes, most of the audiences left theatre and called Noe ‘mentally ill’ for what he had created on screen. As per French DVD release of the movie, almost 200 people of 2400 at Cannes walked out of the movie in disgust. The most disturbing part of the movie is the uncut rape scene of Alex. It can be counted as the most disturbing rape scenes in the history of cinema, in which Alex (Bellucci) is assaulted for nine minutes on screen.During the violence people come to know about the pregnancy of Alex which creates another layer of discomfort. The most important thing about the scene is, it was mostly improvised. Gaspar Noe wrote only three pages for the treatment of the film, which contained twelve scenes of ten to twenty line each.
While filming this movie, Gaspar had to use cocaine to handle the camera. The film is full of hand-held shot and the camera was heavy. Once the hangover of the drug was over, he was unable to raise even a glass of Vodka.
The imagination of Gaspar knows no bounds. In his next feature film, Enter the Void (2009), he explores the post-death consciousness of a young boy named Oscar who lives with his sisterLinda in an apartment. Oscar works in drug nexus in Japan to make money and Linda is a sex-worker. In the film, there comes a reference of a book named ‘The Tibetan Book of Dead’, which can be said the source of Idea of Enter the void but Gaspar takes it to the next level through the sentiments of despair, affection, violence, loneliness and guilt. In the very first POV shot of the film, we get a beautiful view of Tokyo and listen some intense dialogues regarding death. The tragic story of Oscar and Linda has some flashbacks of childhood, when they lost their parents in a car accident.
The movie goes beyond any ‘ism and provides a never-thought insight about life using different frames of death. Watching the neon-lit film, one can feel that the maker wants to take the audience on a journey of one consciousness to the another. He tries to break all the boundaries of aesthetics of mainstream movies through his unique style of cinematography. With the help of camera, he creates a spell in which the audience finds themselves floating in void.
He releases ‘Love’ (2005), a 3D sexually explicit love story and breaks all the extremities of sex on screen. In spite of several explicit scenes, the film carries a melancholic journey of protagonists Murphy (Karl Glusman) and Electra (AomiMuyock).Murphy is an American film student who lives in Paris and falls in Love with Electra. But things go wrong when he makes love with another girl and she gets pregnant. As per Gaspar,the sexual passion has a great role in love but unfortunately it usually is not portrayed with that honestly on the screen, so he takes the aesthetics of blood, sperm and tears and makes a movie like Love. One of the most unique things of the film is voice-over of Murphy. It is too subtle and quite in delivery. This deals with the psychology of thinking. The process of thinking of a human being is atonal or flat, so he used the same in the film withoutany breath or energy. However, this makes the dialogues more emotional and connecting with the audience. Secondly, there were not any choreography for the sex scenes but they looked perfect. May be the scenes were more impactful just because the maker followed his instinctsrather than scene blocking or craft.
It was 2019, when the fans of Gasper got another gift as Climax. In short, the movie is about a dance troop, in which everyone gets high on LSD through a drink and experience hell on the rehearsal floor. The experimental mind of Gaspar uses camera as one of the contestants (not a POV) and follows the all the incidents.
There is a sequence in which dancers are interviewed. They talk about their life and their passion of dance. Even though it wasn’t written on script, the interviews were quite interesting in which one of the lady dancers says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. The line reminds the song Stronger by Kelly Clarkson.
The film starts with a dance sequence which is an incredible one-shot and credits hit the screen in middle, and a text crosses from eyes written “Death is an extraordinary experience”. This ‘extraordinary experience’ becomes hallucinatory and creates several horrific images. Gaspar shows the people from different religions and races but all of them behave the same when LSD kicks their nerve. Audience get the fact that humans on Earth react similarly when the questions of survival and life arise. The film becomes unbearable with the timeand justifies the sentence which comes with the title sequence which says, ‘Death is an extraordinary experience’.In an interview, Gaspar talks about death and explains why he’s annoyed by a culture where death is always considered as somethingbad. As per his vision, no one can really tell how it feels when someone dies. It happens just once in life which makes it more extraordinary than other experiences. In general, no one talks about death in positive way.
In these ways, Gaspar is one of the rarest makers who are trying to develop cinema and performing ground breaking experiments through their visions. The aesthetics of their cinematography, dialogues, set designing and selection of music makehisfilms of some other world. It becomes an independent chapter of world cinema which can’t be ignored in any way. If someone is searching differently made movies to watch, they can start from here without any confusion.
Vijay Sharma explored the feel of watching movies from Bihar’s Video Parlors to Inox cinema halls and film-festivals. Graduated in B.Sc, he worked for some small film houses and now working in Rekhta. Whatever he does, is a bit of the course of becoming a filmmaker.