How Movies Get High
This is your brain on cinema.
As long as I’ve been a moviegoer, I’ve gravitated towards weird, inexplicable and strange phenomena on film. Dream sequences are my favorite, because the filmmaker can explore the baffling and irrational subjects that defy explanation. I believe the power of cinema lies in how it shows what’s possible—if not in life, then in dreams.
It was in film that Surrealist artists found a home for their cutting edge ideas. Collaboration between Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel resulted in one of the great works of surreal cinema in Un Chien Andalou, but its power was wielded in the name of art and intellect. And I am interested in surrealism in how it conveys feeling and sensation.
Once surrealism evolved past an “art movement” it became a recognized way for filmmakers who probably would not describe themselves as surrealists to communicate the feelings and sensations that fascinated me. From there, it’s a straight shot from Un Chien Andalou to Half Baked (1998).
I created this video essay not to glorify drug use but to celebrate the artistic spirit that embraces surrealism in order to communicate a state of mind. Stanley Kubrick famously said, “If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed.” I commend the filmmakers that use the language of cinema to convey the interior life of a character, even if it is just to get a laugh. The important distinction my video essay makes is how MOVIES get high, not just the characters in them. Pure cinema communicates ideas without words, and when the audience can feel the filmmaker’s intentions it results in a high that is rarely equaled in life.