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  • Writer's pictureRua Fay

How Gaspar Noé Makes You Sick

For the past two decades, Gaspar Noé has remained one of the film world's most notorious directors. Ever since his first project in 1998, Noé has been using his unique style of extreme psychological horror to traumatize audiences worldwide. It's not uncommon to experience nausea or emotional shock after watching one of Noé's films, and the answer isn't as simple as you may think...

Throughout his entire career, Gaspar Noé has never made an uplifting or accessible movie. Watching his films can sometimes take physical and mental preparation due to just how extreme the contents can be. It's quite difficult to judge which films of his are more disturbing than the others. Each Noé film contains graphic violence and strong themes of despair and nihilism. These strong themes paired with his intense, unorthodox cinematography is enough to make even those with iron stomachs a little bit uneasy.

A prime example of Noé's intense filmmaking can best be seen in his 2018 film, Climax. Not only does this film jolt you with its shocking themes, loud music, and bleak dialogue, but the camerawork also plays a vital role. Perhaps the most distinctive part of Noé's work is his style of cinematography which seems like its been designed specifically to make you feel like you've been transported into a nightmare. The camera is rarely still, either focusing on one subject for an amount of time with no motion or a long, continuous, shaky, rotating shot that seems to go on forever. Watching a Gaspar Noé film like Climax is like witnessing a film that was filmed by an Olympic gymnast, mid-routine.

I don't think a single Noé film exists without an aggressive color pallette. From Climax, to Enter The Void, to Lux Æterna, muted tones are nowhere to be found. By doing this, not only do these films make you feel sick but also have the ability to make you feel like you've been punched in the face. It's like the visual assault of Moulin Rouge without any music or joy whatsoever. Studies have shown that the certain colors can drastically affect one's mood. For example, some extreme dieting methods consist of people wearing blue filtered glasses to make food appear less appetizing. I believe Noé is trying to use a similar method in his films by using bright and bold colors, paired with flashing lights to make for a viewing experience that will leave you squirming.

Despite all of the technical aspects that go into making Noé films disturbing, I would be truly remiss if I simply glossed over the content that these projects deal with. There isn't a single movie of his that contains a happy ending, even the short films. Whether it's about drug use, the occult, despair, or most notoriously: rape, the director seems to always know how to film it in the most horrifying way possible. If you were to ask anyone in the film world about Noé, if they're not a fanatic they probably know him as "the guy who directed that one movie with the rape scene." It's no secret that Gaspar Noé's 2002 film, Irréversible is not only the most traumatizing project in his filmography but also one of the most upsetting things to ever hit the big screen. About halfway through, Monica Bellucci and Jo Prestia act out one of the most horrifying things a person can experience, sexual assault, and no mercy is spared. It happens in real time with the camera barely moving at all, forcing you to live out every second of this woman's torture. Irréversible also contains some of the most graphic violence I've ever seen, a standout being when a man has his face bashed in with a fire extinguisher and Monica Bellucci is beaten to a bloody pulp after her assault. It is not a movie for the faint of heart however it does stand as the perfect example of how disturbing and effective Gaspar Noé's films can be.

In my opinion, nearly twenty years later, Irréversible still stands as Noé's most traumatizing film however with his new project, Vortex being set for a 2021 release, who knows how long that label could last. Regardless, if these movies bring you entertainment, or are something you wish to stay far away from, there is no doubting just how effective and distinctive of a director Noé is, and I can't wait to see what he does next.

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