There are a certain population of artists in the world who, whether they know it or not, create a work, or body of work, that is meant to bring out a deep-seeded and perhaps even subconscious disdain or hatred of the human condition. These artists, many times, are called boundary pushers or provocateurs, but in reality they offer up pieces of culture that disgust or revolt their audiences...with a purpose.
Some men love life, enjoy the company of their fellow human beings and believe the world is a good place to live. Their spirits are high and if they become artists, they reflect this in their work. Others have a more reality based ideology thinking that the human race has its brighter and darker side and they are comfortable working in either realm.
But there is a third type who believes that the world is a sick and evil place. To them, we all wear masks to hide this from the world. We smile and laugh but on the inside we are animals looking for the opportunity to achieve our darkest desires. This type of artist sees the world as a farce and the human race as hypocrites. They search for honesty and never find it. They look into the human soul and they see only black.
These artists can't escape from inclusion into their own world view so they have doubts on whether they are correct in the assumptions they make. They know they are not as evil as the world they see on the other side of their eyes and decide their hatred for their fellow man might be unjustified. They suffer from the same doubts as any other person and react by deciding to use art as experimentation. They behave similar to a research scientist when investigating a theory in order to make a proof; and their audiences are their laboratory rats.
What they wish to find is that their theory is wrong. They do not wish to hate their fellow man because they would in the end have to hate themselves. They want to find the good. They create works of such ugliness to try and find the beauty. They sledgehammer their viewers with the stuff of nightmares searching for a single final result. If they can fail they will paradoxically succeed. If people would just not come, if they would just ignore the brutality then these artists could finally have faith. Their greatest accomplishment would come when everyone would make them anonymous.
Gaspar Noé is one of these artists. Noe's films are shocking and brutal. They show the world of incest, rape, violence, murder and death. His films disgust, upset, and nauseate audiences. You do not watch from a comfortable place in your seat. Noé challenges your ability to keep down your lunch. Many critics and laymen have left his movies feeling dizzy, disorientated, nauseous, and angry.
Gaspar Noé does not want you to stay for his movies. He wants you to leave. He uses various techniques to achieve this result. On the surface, he states he wants to challenge his audiences. He called many theatre goers at the screening of Irreversable in France wimps:
"At Cannes, people ran away, people fainted, people threw up, but they were all just a bunch of wimps. I'm sure it'll be different here in London, because I heard you people were really tough around here. So we'll see all of you at the end of the movie; except maybe a few of you we'll check the names. Bye. Courage" - National Film Theatre on the 11 October 2002.
"You can have a physical reaction to the movie, too. Even on the soundtrack, we added these really low waves, infra-waves, so that during the first half of the movie you have a 27-herz frequency that's usually used in riots to make people run away. So for the first half of the movie you feel weird you could show just a cat drinking milk, and it'd be scary, and you wouldn't know why but it's because of this infra-wave beneath." - 2002 BFI interview with Hannah Magill
Gaspar Noé makes films to see if the men he thinks we are, are not the men we actually are. If he can offend us enough, perhaps he will find what he is looking for, a humanity who finds his style of entertainment not worth watching; finds his views on the world to be incorrect, finds that the thoughts and actions he depicts in his films are rare at best and not worthy of the time and effort it takes to create them. If Gaspar Noé succeeds in his quest to have "an audience of zero" then perhaps, just perhaps, he will have to change his view on what humanity actually is.
I saw one of his films yesterday (Irreversible). It had a collection of one of the most jarring, disconcerting and ultraviolent scenes I, a self proclaimed veteran of the violent flick genre had seen. One of the most jolting experiences as a movie watcher I have had in quite some time.
Almost all people will find the movie ultra distasteful and deeply disturbing. In my more sober moments, I will emphatically agree with them in saying that this is an ugly movie. Highly, non recommended. Don't watch it unless you have a good reason for doing so.