One of our favorite things to do at the start or end of a journey is to watch a movie. It can help to set the intention or aid in easing you back into the waking world. We rarely make films a central part of our trips, and recommend that you don’t either, but there are some films you really shouldn’t consider. We’re calling today’s list the forbidden films and we’d like to explain what we mean by that.
While in a psychedelic frame of mind you will be more aware of and susceptible to changes in the emotional network we all live in. This heightened susceptibility is what makes the experience so wonderous and allows us to explore and learn new things about the universe.
Artists have learned to use this network to achieve powerful effects, if you’ve ever wondered how a musician can control the emotional state of an entire auditorium — it is by using these effects. While a musician aware of these effects can use it to lead a crowd to a heightened state of bliss, imagine what somebody could do if they had a different, more furious goal.
Certain directors have an innate awareness of these effects, just like a concert musician has, and they use them to inject another level of emotional power into their works. We promise to introduce you to many of the most wonderful examples in time, today however we want to look at the other side. We want to look at a set of films that you probably should not watch in a psychedelic state of mind unless you are specifically looking for the emotional journey they offer.
Before we jump in we want to point out that these are not bad movies, in fact some of these are our favorite movies of all time. At the same time we recognize the power these works can have. These are not reviews of the films, but rather a short explanation of why you might want to approach them with a little more caution than usual. And with that said, let’s get started.
Forbidden film 1
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Anyone who has seen this film understands why it is on this list. Anyone who hasn’t needs to watch this while in a normal state of mind before attempting to approach it from any kind of altered state.
Darren Aronofsky is a master of showing us the utter depths of sadness that are possible in this world. He will show us this in many different ways throughout the film to ensure that we truly understand it. Only someone wishing to explore that space themselves should go on this journey.
This is not something you can unsee, however there are powerful lessons hidden in this film.
Forbidden Film 2
LARS VON TRIER
Ah, Lars Von Trier, we all knew he would make this list. We choose Antichrist from all his works as this is by far the most viscerally disturbing film. Other films of his can have specific traumatic reactions in specific people, however this movie is likely to supply that reaction to any viewer.
We actually love watching the next film in this “Depression Trilogy” of his, Melancholia (2011), which is a hauntingly beautiful and deeply sad film. However Melancholia lacks the highly realistic and violent scenes that Antichrist revels in. It those scenes that make this film especially dangerous.
This film will dominate your journey and likely take you to some very dark places, approach with caution.
Forbidden Film 3
This is likely one of the more obscure titles on this list, however as you explore the history of psychedelic thought you are certain to run across Jodorowsky and be tempted to view some of these works.
Jodorowsky’s other films such as The Holy Mountain or even El Topo offer us examples of films that really only make sense while dreaming. While these movies are graphic and contain violent scenes, there is a teaching undertone to everything that is always present and pretty easy to pick up on.
Santa Sangre is different, this film was made late in his career after he had spent years working on comics in France. The film is Jodorowsky’s version of a horror movie, and the results are terrifying, Roger Ebert called the film “True Psychic Horror”.
Forbidden Film 4
Tarsem Singh is a master of visual story telling, his later film: The Fall is one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema ever created. This film however was his directorial debut and stars some big names like Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn. Even so this movie has an incredibly dark through line that will become especially apparent while in an altered state.
The contrast between the bright lights of the desert scenery against the dingy interiors of the childhood home will quickly take over your entire experience.
The only saving grace here is if you are strong enough to make it, the final sequence contains the best use of graphic overlay in film that we’ve witnessed to this day. The way the glittering flower work grows from the edges of the screen will simply blow your mind.
Forbidden Film 5
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
This choice is more personal than the others. We aren’t certain that this film will be challenging to everyone who views it. Aunty does not have the same aversion to this work that we do. That is important to understand, set, setting and intention can all drive the experience you get from any movie — even a movie on this list. however for us, this film is not one we wish to experience again.
The film deals with themes of death, heaven and hell, and does so in the most grand visual style imaginable. The visuals are so amazingly beautiful they take down your guard, along with Robin Williams’ incredible dramatic range. The surreal depictions of hell will then take you to the most terrifying parts of your mind.
One interesting point on this film, is that despite the almost ham fisted evangelical paint over the entire thing, this is not a Christian film no matter what anyone tells you. This is an eastern religious film painted for an earlier western audience, one that wasn’t quite ready for Everything, Everywhere All at Once. In the end the family decides to reincarnate together to experience life again, nothing could be less thematically Christian than the idea of reincarnation as a positive goal.
So that’s our list, there were many films we considered including like The Shining — but Aunty reminded us that we were really scared of the spider webs behind the tv and not the movie. Or maybe Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, either version has certainly been the start of many bad journeys. But no, these 5 are the movies we feel are least appropriate for somebody trying to have a good time.