Hallucinating in the deep waters of consciousness

On Saturday I curated a series of short films about other inner worlds, altered states and the extremes of mental health at London’s Shuffle Festival. I discovered one of the films literally a couple of days before the event, and it completely blew me away.

Narcose is a French documentary about a dive by world champion free diver Guillaume Néry. It documents, in real time, a five minute dive from a single breath and the hallucinations he experiences due to carbon dioxide narcosis.
 

 

Firstly, the film is visually stunning. A masterpiece of composition, light and framing.

Secondly, it’s technically brilliant. The director presumably thought ‘what can we do when we have access to a community of free divers, who can hold their breath under water for minutes at a time?’ It turns out, you can create stunning underwater scenes with a cast of apparently water-dwelling humans.

But most importantly it is a sublime depiction of Néry’s enchanted world where the boundaries between inner and outer perception become entirely porous. It is perhaps the greatest depiction of hallucinations I’ve seen on film.

Darken the room, watch it on as big a screen as possible and immerse yourself.
 

Link to Narcose on Vimeo.

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