Directed by Peter Mettler. Canada. 2002.
Beginning with an evangelical gathering of believers at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship Church where worshippers writhe on the floor in beatific agony, the camera takes us to Las Vegas, Nevada, Arizona, Switzerland, and southern India. We see a hotel being demolished in Las Vegas as a young woman watches in a dreamlike state from her hotel room, a teenage girl strapped to a machine in an erotic pose as a sex-shop owner describes his Electro-erotic stimulator. Two Swiss heroin addicts talk about their highs and lows, a Hispanic card player shows us the cremated remains of his wife in a red scarf, we visit a dog race in Zurich Switzerland, and experience fire dancing on a beach in India. Described by the director as being about "transcendence, the denial of death, the illusion of safety and our relationship to nature", the camera moves quickly from one reality to the other. The images speak for themselves - some profound, some banal, others simply bizarre. "Ultimately", Mettler says, "the film is about the people who watch it."
Mr. Mettler is a visionary director and his work is audacious and often mesmerizing, but his film left me wanting more. Though drugs are one of the unifying themes of the film and LSD appears in the title, there is no discussion of what LSD is about or of the psychedelic revolution of the 60s that shattered our assumptions about reality and, for better or worse, defined an entire decade. Mettler dwells on the virtues of addictive drugs like heroin but shows us nothing about shamanism, native rites of passage, Buddhist chanting, healing ceremonies, or paranormal phenomena involving the use of sacred plants and substances occurring in nature, phenomena that have led other mind explorers to reach profound personal insights.
Gambling, Gods and
LSD is a unique attempt to allow us to see transcendence in the kaleidoscope
of human activity and I recommend that it be seen, yet much of it is simply
sensational or striving for a "trippy" effect. There is definitely a movement
taking place in the world that seeks to define reality outside of the rigid
mechanistic structures spoon-fed to us since birth by academics and the
media, but the film does not seem to be looking in the right places. Goethe
has said, "We all walk in mysteries…under particular conditions the antennae
of our souls are able to reach out beyond their physical limitations".
Even in our modern age, the nature of consciousness remains elusive and
perhaps now requires us to look through a different pair of glasses.
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