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Film / Enter the Void

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Enter the Void is an experimental art drama film co-written and directed by Gaspar Noé, with Noé summarizing it as a "psychedelic melodrama". The entire film is seen through the Unbroken First-Person Perspective of its protagonist through strict point-of-view shots, including momentary blackouts to represent blinking, and extended hallucinatory sequences.

A rough cut of it premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, with the post-production required of the film delaying its wide release in France to a year later, with Germany and Italy receiving further releases across 2010 and 2011.

The film opens with Oscar, a young American man, living in Tokyo and supporting himself by dealing drugs, against the advice of his sister Linda and his friend Alex, who attempts to turn Oscar toward spirituality with The Tibetan Book of the Dead. When he and Oscar leave to deliver drugs to Oscar's friend Victor, Alex explains parts of The Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud to Oscar along the way — namely how the spirit of a dead person sometimes will stay among the living until it begins to experience nightmares, after which it will attempt to reincarnate. Just as the two get to sit down at a bar, the police come to swarm the place. Oscar is chased down into the washroom stalls, where he desperately tries to flush away his incriminating drugs.


He gets shot.

As his spirit rises from his body and watches over the events which follow, the audience views everything from his perspective, from the aftermaths of his loved ones' lives to dreams that unveil aspects of his past.

Enter the Void was a long-time passion project for Noé, synthesizing a number of things he had grown fascinated by in his early life — themes of death, existence and the afterlife alongside aesthetics of psychedelia and surrealism. His failed initial attempts at getting sufficient funding for the film inspired the creation of Irréversible, which he retrospectively considered a "bank robbery" to finance Enter the Void, as well as a helpful technical exercise.


This film provides examples of:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Oscar's late mother and father are implied to have around a 10-15 year age gap between them, since he's a somewhat older, well-off guy and she's a bit of a youthful trophy wife. After they're orphaned and sent to live with their father's parents, they are shown to be much too old to be taking care of kids any longer.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • At one point, Oscar wakes up in the morgue and is taken home by Linda and Alex, who are disgusted by his appearance. After a while, Alex tells Oscar to remember that he was cremated. Linda immediately wakes up, saying she had "another dream" about Oscar being alive. Essentially, Oscar flew into Linda's head and watched her own dream along with her.
    • According to Word of God, the whole movie is the result of Oscar allucinating during his final moments because of being high on drugs.
  • Anachronic Order: Oscar flashes back and forth from his past to the present.
  • And Your Reward Is Infancy: The ending — assuming it wasn't all a Dying Dream.
  • Anti-Villain: Mario deals drugs, runs a strip joint, and sometimes tries to cheat on Linda, but never forces himself on women and is genuinely concerned for her wellbeing.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Oscar has one for his sister. Tragically, he starts dealing drugs in order to raise money for Linda to come and live with him in Japan.
  • Blipvert: The opening credits. Noé made the credits in this style since the film was nearly three hours and he wanted to get through "as fast as possible and as graphic as possible." Quentin Tarantino even called those the best opening credits in a movie ever.
  • Blood Oath: Oscar and Linda undergo this after the death of their parents. They promise to never separate.
  • Bookends / Title Drop: The film proper begins with the word "ENTER" filling the screen. At the film's very end, the words "THE" and "VOID" are shown in the same manner.
  • Broken Bird: Linda, especially after Oscar dies.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Heavily implied to be the case between Oscar and his sister since he watches her sleep (in the nude no less) and the fact that he is repeatedly shown watching her dance in the strip club. There are also several instances where she kisses him and it's a little more than a peck on the cheek. Aside from that, Oscar flies into the bodies of her lovers while she has sex with them, watching the act from their POV's. He even flies inside of her at the climax and we get an inside view of her vagina during intercourse. Adding an extra layer of discomfort is the possibility that he's thinking of her as his mother through all this.
  • Call-Back: The song that ends Irréversible, "The End", plays over the closing credits that begin this film.
  • Came Back Wrong: Linda has a nightmare in which this happens to Oscar.
  • Censor Steam: Every sexual act in the Love Hotel is somewhat obscured by glowing, smokey energy waves around the genitalia.
  • Coming and Going: The juxtaposition of Oscar's death while his sister was having sex with the club owner.
  • The Corrupter: Oscar got one of his old girlfriends and Linda hooked on drugs with the latter falling in with a strip club manager as a direct result.
  • Country Matters: Alex calls Oscar one while trying to convince him that he's only imagining himself as being alive again.
  • Crapsack World: As expected from Gasper Noé. The film is dark, everyone ends up dead or broken, and nothing seems to have gotten better by the end of the film.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Both parents die in a car crash.
  • Deranged Animation: There is a lot of CGI animation, although it may not be noticeable since all characters are live action.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Oscar's supplier of DMT in Tokyo is apparently fond of getting some rather young-looking men hooked on drugs while he takes advantage of them (Alex warns Oscar not to drink or smoke anything he offers). However, he's later seen enjoying an orgy that includes several women.
  • Depth of Field / Fish-Eye Lens: Oscar's POV sometimes has this effect.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits features everyone's name in dramatic, colourful logos. When it gets to the cast, every name gets delirious, seizure-inducing animations in all styles imaginable.
  • Destroy the Evidence:
    • Oscar tries to get rid of the drugs in the club's toilet but the flush doesn't work. So he uses his hands to push the pills down the drain.
    • Linda burns Oscar's drugs in a bucket so police won't find it.
  • Dies Wide Open: Oscar in the bathroom stall.
  • Dizzy Cam / Everything's Better with Spinning: A trademark of Gaspar Noé.
  • Don't Split Us Up: When Oscar and Linda are separated as kids, Linda doesn't take is so well.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Oscar "enters the void" by going into a club called "The Void" and dying.
  • Drone of Dread: Oscar's POV takes this form, particularly after his death as he "chases" Alex through the streets.
  • Drugs Are Good / Drugs Are Bad: The movie shows both ends of the spectrum, the awesome trippy effects as well as the Crapsack World of a user.
  • Dying Dream: It's possible it was all just a dream Oscar is having as he dies.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: At one point, the camera flies out of a window up into a plane, then all the way back down and into a taxi cab.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: You will not want to see this film if you have photosensitive epilepsy.
    • The opening credits is essentially two full minutes of seizure-inducing strobing.
    • Shortly after Oscar dies, his soul floats up into the lightbulb above the toilet, where the entire screen flickers whitish-yellow for 90 full seconds.
    • Oscar's sister having sex with a strip club owner and subsequently getting the call about Oscar's death starts with regular lighting but quietly transitions into full-on red/blue strobing over the course of the scene's 9 minutes.
    • As Oscar's journey continues, his perspective incorporates more and more time-altering strobes, which have a similar effect to X-Ray Vision.
    • This goes without mentioning the Japanese street signs and strobing club lights which pervade the film. Even ordinary lightbulbs flicker with varying intensities.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The climax (no pun intended) of the film involves Oscar floating through a Love Motel witnessing several acts, including his sister having very explicit sex with Alex. Additionally, almost every main character has an affair or a lover.
  • The Faceless: Subverted. We know what Oscar looks like because he looks at himself in the mirror at the start of the film, but during all of the flashbacks, the camera is always behind him, showing only his shoulders and the back of the head to the audience.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: It is implied that Oscar gets reborn as his sister's son. See Gainax Ending.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Yet another explanation for the ending is that Oscar gets reincarnated as his sister's baby.
  • Flash Back: Roughly half the movie consists of flashbacks as Oscar watches his life flash before his eyes.
  • Flash Forward: The other half moves forward in time.
  • Flashback Cut: Integrated seamlessly into the narrative: not only does every cut find an analog with another event in Oscar's life, but the cuts themselves happen in the same manner that the blinking does in the P.O.V. Cam of the first act of the film.
  • Gainax Ending: As one can gather from this page, the ending has a lot of interpretations. After graphically showing Linda's vagina being filled with semen and a sperm fertilizing her ovum, the film cuts to Oscar being born. The P.O.V. Cam at this point is justifiably entirely blurry, so the identity of the mother (either Oscar's actual mother, or Linda) is unknowable. Of course, it may be All Just a Dream, as Oscar was high on DMT when he got shot and could have been imagining the last two hours of the film.
  • Get Out!: How Victor's father evicts Oscar from their home.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: The director treats us to a girl-on-girl scene with Linda and her friend.
  • Go into the Light: Oscar's soul tries this as soon as he dies. It ends up being the light in the bathroom stall where he was shot. He realizes this shortly thereafter.
  • Good Bad Girl: Linda.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Linda receives an abortion after getting pregnant from her boss, a seedy strip club owner. Linda is emotionally damaged and living a dangerous lifestyle, and her abortion plays into that.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: After Oscar is shot, there's a long shot from his perspective in the waning moments of his life as we hear his heartbeat gradually slowing.
  • Homage: The psychedelic colors and extreme experience of it all reflects upon Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: It's suggested that Alex is drawn to Buddhist theory through the use of psychedelic drugs.
  • I Gave My Word: Despite his problems, Oscar promised he would always be there for Linda no matter what. And if he is indeed reincarnated into Linda and Alex's baby at the end, he definitely has made good on his word.
  • Improv: Most of the dialogue was improvised by the cast. Gaspar Noé stated that, as he didn't understand English very much, he needed someone to tell him if what the cast was saying sounded good or not.
  • Incest Subtext: Like with Gaspar Noe's other works, incest is a strong theme in the film, tying in to concepts such as rebirth and reincarnation. Oscar's relationship with his sister Linda is disturbingly affectionate, though whether or not they actually have had sex together is never quite confirmed. It's also pretty blatant that Oscar has an Oedipus Complex towards his deceased mother.
  • Jump Scare: The car crash. Notable in that the exact same camera angle (a POV from the back seat) is used three times.
  • Karma Houdini: Victor's mom cheats on her husband with Oscar and said affair is the reason Victor turns Oscar to the cops and eventually gets him killed. While Victor is kicked out of his house by his parents, his mom gets no punishment despite her role in the whole mess, except for the pain of losing Oscar.
  • Kick the Dog: Victor tries to lay some of the blame on Linda for Oscar's death because she always hung around creeps. Linda angrily tells Victor to go kill himself.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Lots of very long takes in the film.
  • Leitmotif: Bach's "Air on a G String" comes up repeatedly in moments related to Oscar and his sister.
  • Lovable Rogue: Alex, who is a rather personable and intelligent junkie that repeatedly tries to beg Oscar to pursue more legitimate pursuits and to take care of his sister to no avail.
  • Lured into a Trap: Oscar, lured into The Void by Victor.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: The night club owner, when dropping his pants to have sex with Linda backstage.
  • Manchild: Linda insists she isn't one, but she's an all-around immature person who just happens to pursue some very adult pleasures.
  • Match Cut: Several, as transitions from present to childhood, e.g. Oscar and his sister lying in bed as adults, cut to them in the same position as little kids.
  • Medium Blending: A subtle version. Noé has said that every shot in the film was augmented by CGI. Additionally, the film features a multitude of seamlessly blended helicopter, crane, CG and handheld tracking shots.
  • Mind Screw: Drug trips and a spiritual journey all from one, single POV is bound to look trippy.
  • Mind Rape: It's possible that Oscar possesses various people in the film, including his sister's lover.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The happy scenes and lullaby version of Bach's "Air on a G String" that occurs right before Oscar's parents die in a car crash. Twice.
    • Oscar (maybe) being reborn to a beautiful woman is a warm and tender moment that is immediately followed by the medical staff cutting his umbilical chord, taking him away from her, and putting him on a separate bed despite his wailing.
  • Mr. Exposition: Alex during the Walk and Talk scene from Oscar's home to The Voice, dropping Info Dumps about the Tibetan Book of the Dead which later becomes a reality for Oscar.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Linda, and how. The stripper and sex scenes are just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Mushroom Samba: Oscar's drug trip which we see from his POV. It's probably one of the more realistic trips shown on film.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Victor has this realization, after the coup with the cops goes awry.
  • Near-Death Clairvoyance: Oscar, upon dying, steps out of his body and observes what is happening to other characters in the story at that moment.
  • Neon City: The film takes place almost entirely at night in Tokyo, the ever-present neon lighting adding to the film's disorienting and hallucinogenic themes.
  • Never My Fault: Oscar doesn't believe that he's doing anything wrong by dealing drugs (because he never personally hurts anybody) and spends his last living moments putting the blame squarely on the police when he was the one who was threatening to shoot them with his non-existent gun.
  • No Ending: The film simply stops after Oscar is shown being born.
  • Oedipus Complex: It's heavily implied that Oscar has wanted to bed his mother since childhood and his father doesn't figure much into his trips to the past unless he's right next to or having sex with his mother.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The barely visible astral cloud in the bathroom light bulb is shown repeatedly in a variety of ways throughout the film and finally gets an explanation at the end of the film: it's reincarnation itself. Or just semen.
    • As we go through Oscar's life story, we end up reaching the point that Oscar starts in at the beginning of the movie, and it follows through up to his death.
  • The Oner: Oscar being woken up by Alex, taking a walk through the streets to The Void and getting busted by the police is all one 16-minute shot, despite being obscured a bit by the blinking of the P.O.V. Cam.
  • Parental Incest: There are very strong Oedipal implications with Oscar and his mother, who died in a car crash along with his father when he and his sister were kids. In at least one flashback Oscar spies on his parents while they're in the bedroom. When he has sex with an older woman in the present, he immediately flashes back to being breastfed. In the climax there's a sex scene involving the same woman; when Oscar flies into the man's head to see things from his POV, she's replaced by his mother.
  • Parental Substitute: A meaningful cut from a young Oscar watching his parents have sex to him watching Alex having sex with a random woman implies that he sees his friend as something of a father figure albeit one whose advice he often ignores. Depending on how you view the ending, Alex possibly becomes Oscar's father for real.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Victor initially had this in mind when he turned on Oscar but quickly realizes it was Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Perverted Sniffing: We see Oscar sniffing his sister's discarded panty.
  • Posthumous Character: Oscar and Linda's parents appear rather prominently in multiple flashbacks, but they're both long dead in the present after dying in a car crash.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Used extensively in the first 25 minutes or so of the film. Even Oscar's eye blinks are represented. But after Oscar is killed, the film is mostly shot from behind a character's head or from a top-down perspective.
  • Primal Scene: Twice in the movie we see a flashback of Oscar as a kid as he walks into his parents' bedroom and they're having sex.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Deconstructed. It is implied that after the car crash that killed their parents, Oscar and Linda are initially being taken care of by their (paternal?) grandparents, but since they're just too old to take care of kids any longer Oscar and Linda are forcibly split up and moved into different foster families.
  • Re-Cut: Noé recut the film himself for the United States and the United Kingdom by effectively removing the seventh reel (out of nine) of footage. This cuts the film's run time from 161 minutes to 137, by removing "some astro-visions, an orgy scene with Linda and the Japanese girl, [and] the scene where you see [Oscar] waking up at the morgue and he thinks he's alive but he's not, and then the camera goes down the plughole where she's tipping his ashes." In a positive example of this trope, Noé mentioned that the removal of this footage has no impact whatsoever on the narrative and that it was a contractual obligation with the film's investors to have an alternate edit ready if the film went longer than 140 minutes. Both cuts are packaged together on the DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Reincarnation: The concept of reincarnation is mentioned early on by Alex to Oscar. He explains that according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, after someone dies their soul may linger around their old surroundings for a period following their death. Oscar is shot by the police not much later and spends most of the movie as a disembodied spirit. At the very end, after witnessing his sister Linda being impregnated, Oscar experiences being born again. The face of the woman is obscured, leaving it ambiguous whether he is reborn as Linda's baby, or whether his first life is just starting over again.
  • Retirony: Oscar was planning to stop dealing drugs just before he died.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Victor is arrested by the police after the botched arrest of Alex, is disavowed by his contemporaries in the drug trade, has his apology rejected by Linda, gets thrown out of his own home by his parents, and is last seen giving blowjobs in a love hotel to get by.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The events that Oscar perceives after being shot is loosely based upon his reading of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
  • Sensory Abuse: Aside from the Epileptic Flashing Lights listed above, various sounds also play a role in the movie's tone. The ambient score assembled by Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter incorporates excerpts from two musique concrète albums by electroacoustic composer Jean-Claude Éloy, which certainly employ this trope as part of their composition by layering field recordings of Tokyo nightlife on top of "electronic and concrete sounds."
  • Sex by Proxy: The main character is killed about 15 minutes into the movie and spends the rest of it as a disembodied spirit. There are numerous occasions where he observes people having sex and flies into their heads to experience it from their point of view.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The top-down camera shots are an homage to Brian De Palma's use of the same technique in the film Snake Eyes.
    • The ambient score of the film was assembled from existing music and sound sources collected by Thomas Bangalternote  in a way that is reminiscent of "Revolution 9".
  • Shown Their Work: Oscar's DMT-induced drug trip at the start of the film is based on Noé's own experience with the drug.
  • Slow Clap: The strip club owner applauds Linda backstage this way after her first strip show in the movie.
  • Spiritual Successor: It definitely comes across as some sort of successor to 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring the same kind of exploratory existentialism and drawn-out, trippy sequences. It's even harder to sit through due to the addition of general human degeneracy and psychosexual issues, however.
  • Stacy's Mom: Victor's mom and Oscar have an affair. When Victor finds out, the movie takes a bad turn.
  • The Stoic: Oscar is very much a straight man throughout the film, and when he raises his voice, you know it's serious.
  • Surprise Car Crash: We see a flashback to the sudden and fatal car crash that made the protagonist and his sister Conveniently an Orphan, when the family car is hit by a truck in a car tunnel. It's made even more jarring because the entire segment leading up to this was a whimsical family memory, with sweet lullaby music right up until the truck comes barreling out of nowhere.
  • They Should Have Sent A Poet: Oscar is silent during his trip, leading the viewer through a long series of visuals, often with no dialogue.
  • Tragic Mistake: Oscar makes quite a few, leading up to his death.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Alex makes one to warm him during the night he spend outside.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: Also has a trippy beginning and middle. The finale takes it up a notch though, culminating in Oscar's spirit flying through a maybe-metaphysical space known as the Love Hotel involving basically every character in the movie, culminating with Oscar being reborn after witnessing the impregnation of his sister by his best friend (?).
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Done by Linda throughout the film, most notably when she first gets the news about Oscar's death.
  • Turncoat: Victor turns on Oscar, leading to his death.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: The entire film is from Oscar's perspective, but in non-chronological order and using different styles of POV shots. Specifically, the first one from the opening scenes is shown directly from his eyes so that we even see the movement of his eyelids; a second POV is from Oscar's disembodied spirit as he flies around Tokyo observing the events around him; and a third POV shot with the back of his head in view, used only in flashbacks. Since these third person shots are from flashbacks, the camera stays on his point of view, making a case of using both first and third person shots at the same time.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Both Oscar and Linda. Flashbacks to their youth show them just being two carefree kids, but then seeing both their parents get killed in a horrible car crash and sent to live in different foster homes clearly messed them up, where one is now a drug dealer and the other a stripper.
  • Vader Breath: While Oscar is dying, he breathes heavily.
  • Walk and Talk: During The Oner, when Alex and Oscar walk from Oscar's place to The Void.