Of the Same Matter: Gaspar Noé on Vortex and Lux ​​Aeterna | Interview

There’s a scene in “Vortex” in which the mother disposes of some prescription drugs while in the other half of the frame her son relapses and consumes illegal substances. This on-screen duality is fascinating.

He starts smoking smack again because he’s so stressed and, and he doesn’t know how to save his parents who are a kind of Titanic. During the whole movie we understand that their son of him was a junkie who stopped doing drugs, but the stress that is he’s going through is pushing him into the temptation of neutralizing his brain by doing smack again. Illegal drugs and legal drugs are everywhere in every society. In some countries wine is illegal. Alcohol is a drug, coffee is a drug, pain killers are drugs. It’s like a really secondary subject in this movie, but I barely know anybody who hasn’t been addicted during their lifetime to some product.

Right. Thinking about both “Lux Æterna” and “Vortex,” in the former cinema is described as a drug and in the other as a dream. What’s your personal take on what cinema resembles most between these two comparisons?

For me cinema is like a drug. Love is to drugs. We’re addicted to sex and we’re addicted to love. You’re addicted to some substances that your brain releases when you’re in love. But in this movie, once I knew that Dario was going to play the main part, we discussed what could be the profession of the character he was playing especially since he had to improvise the dialogue and he said, “Before being a film director I was a screenwriter. And before that, I was a film critic.” I said, “Okay, let’s make this character a film critic.” We also together decided that he would be writing a book about dreams and cinema, how dreams are portrayed in cinema, and what’s the language of dreams. That was the subject that the character is writing about in the movie. It made no sense to have him say in the movie cinema is a drug, but it really made sense that he would talk about how movies are dreams or conducted dreams that a director proposes to the audience. He provides all his dialogue from him on that subject.

“Lux Aeterna”

And in “Lux Æterna” Beatrice refers to it as a drug.

I did not write the lines of Dario and I did not write the lines of Beatrice. Beatrice likes talking about drugs a lot.

Early in “Lux Æterna,” there’s also a quote that compares the effects of photosensitive epilepsy to an altered state of mind under the influences of drugs. The last few minutes of the film certainly push the viewer’s tolerance to the intensity of the light. How did this prominent element become part of the story?

I once found a book in France that I really liked, I read it like 10 times in a row, and I was always writing notes on it. It was about how to get stoned without using illegal drugs. There were many ways. You can stop breathing. You can jump with a parachute from a plane. All these things that changed your state of mind or your perception that they were legal. They were like 500 ideas of how to get stoned without using illegal drugs. There were many ideas involving strobe lights and it’s true that strobe lights put you in a very weird state of mind. I bought strobe lights when I was a teenager. I would play with them, and I could get stoned in a very legal way. And if in a movie you put very strong, color strobe lights you can also induce an altered state of mind in the audience. And that’s what I tried to do at the very end of the movie.

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