There are some films from which every still looks like a masterpiece. The kind you need to watch multiple times to fully absorb the textures, colors and visual artistry. Hues so rich and bright they make you hungry, landscapes so epic they make your heart ache. Outfits so glamorous you resolve to burn every item of clothing you own and replace them with a silver screen-inspired wardrobe. (kidding!)
An Alternate Way To Enjoy
There might be some who say reducing a film to its visuals only gives you half the story. And, often that is true — films are made to be whole. But they can also be appreciated in unconventional ways. As Martin Scorcese himself says “sometimes I turn off the sound just to admire the pictures”.
This alternative way of enjoying a film is especially appropriate when it comes to watching while tripping on psychedelics. This is because, when tripping, your senses are inclined to become much more intense. You may even experience forms of synesthesia, where you encounter one sense through another — such as seeing visuals when you hear music. It’s a crazy amazing experience — but it can be overwhelming.
Depending on how you like to experience a psychedelic trip, sometimes having to take in a movie — visuals, dialogue, plot, soundtrack and all — is too much. Like Scorsese is wont to do, why not turn down the sounds and let your eyes eat up the visual feast? See it as the visual equivalent of putting on your favorite record and lying back, eyes closed, letting it fill your ears. We explore 5 films so stunning you can watch with the sound off!
Mad Max Fury Road (2015)
George Miller’s epic road race from 2015 became an instant cult classic. It tells the story of post-apocalyptic wanderer Max (he’s mad, y’know) who unwillingly joins forces with the formidable Furiosa. The dialogue in the film is already sparse, and the visuals so intense even a small dose of shrooms will have you falling head first into the sandy kingdom of the desert. The landscape shots and aerial stunts are stunning sober, let alone when tripping, so strap in. However, this film is not what you’d call a happy-go-lucky piece. There are some bad guys hot on the heels of Furiosa and Max, and we gotta say they’re not pretty. If that’s not something you’re keen on when on shrooms, there are some softer options. Such as…
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This beloved Studio Ghibli animation is a dream, whether tripping or not. It centers on two children whose family move to a house in the forest. In the house live little spirits called ‘susuwatari’, and in the garden they meet a large spirit the girls dub ‘Totoro’. One of the most adorably trippy scenes is when the Catbus arrives — a coach in the shape of a yowling grinning cat. (Gotta be seen to be believed!) Today Totoro is one of the worlds most beloved cartoon characters, and with his affinity for nature and large warming presence he’s an ideal combo with a tingly dose of magic mushrooms. The beautiful colorful graphics are all you need! Turn the sound down and tumble into Totoro’s world.
Martial arts movies are a good pick to watch with the sound off. The movements are so graceful, delicate yet deadly, and Hero starring Jet Li is one of the most visually sumptuous of the genre. Li plays a fighter in ancient China, being honored for defeating the king’s most deadly enemies. However, as the story progresses we begin to doubt his version of events. The different narrative angles are represented with colors; red, green, blue, black and white. Each color set-up is more amazing than the last — and with a twist of shroomy visuals the colors will positively vibrate. Breathtaking.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
With The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson reached peak Wes Anderson. Peak himself. Although the dialogue is witty to be sure, muted, it becomes a series of kitsch tableaus each more retro-camp-technicolor than the last. Watching Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray et al caper around the dollhouse of your dreams is sure to ignite some joyous giggles from you and your psychedelically altered buddies.
Back in 2009, the world went totally ga-ga for Avatar. James Cameron’s CGI sci-fi epic was a sensation. Fast forward a decade-and-a-bit and most people agree that hype was rather over the top. The plot was pretty weak and the CGI does look a little dated. However! This makes it perrrrrfect for watching while tripping. The plot being negligible, you can fall deep into the fantastical world of blue people, glowing plants and floating mountains. Sure! It looks like a very high-budget video game — but what the heck is wrong with video games? If Avatar can live a second life as a tripper’s delight, then that’s a pretty sweet legacy. Additionally, it’s a long-haul blockbuster — time it right and you could be enjoying the mesmerizing action sequences right at the peak of your trip.
Opening Your Mind’s Eye
Watching movies this way can change your whole perspective on them. Films you didn’t think were ‘all that’, might become a revelation when psilocybin alters your reality and opens your mind’s eye. Favorites you already hold dear may take on a whole new, even deeper, resonance. We could keep this list going forever, so we’ll follow up with more recommendations of films to watch with the sound off soon!
In the meantime; what’s your favorite film to watch with the sound off? Let us know in the comments below!