New Civilization News: A psychedelic Western    
 A psychedelic Western0 comments
picture20 Mar 2005 @ 08:42, by Tom Bombadil

One need not be a Chamber—to be Haunted—
One need not be a House—
The brain has Corridors—surpassing
Material place—

——Emily Dickinson

The questioning on the nature of reality appears as the founding of each human being. Man can not grasp the absolute nature of things, the reality of men therefore appears as a creation, the fruit of their culture and perceptions.
——Jan Kounen

Loosely inspired by the comic book, Blueberry, by Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) and Jean-Michel Charlier, Renegade is a mind-bender of a movie with a dazzling array of visual effects and breathtaking cinematography.

Marshall Mike Blueberry (Cassel) is haunted by an incident in his past, where his first love, Madeleine (Giocante) was killed during a confrontation with a shootist named Wally Blount (Madsen). Mike is nearly fatally injured in the confrontation and somehow ends up in the care of a tribe of native Americans who not only nurse him back to health, but adpopt him into their culture, teaching him the ways of their people and exposing him to things no other white man has ever seen. When the people of Mike's town are suddenly caught up in tales of mystical mountains filled with gold (located in the heart of his adopted people's territory), Mike finds himself caught between the townsfolk and the indians. Meanwhile, Mike's old nemesis, Wally Blount, comes to town seeking those very same mountains, but not for the gold...
Blueberry/Renegade is a skillfully shot, gorgeous epic of a western, featuring some really fine performances (Madsen, in particular, is fantastic), dynamite special effects, and a quirky enough story to make it the sort of western even people who hate westerns can appreciate.

Conscious and unconscious have no clear demarcations
...rather, the psyche is a conscious/unconscious whole.
——C. G. Jung

Jan Kounen explained that, as part of his reasearch, he met with shamans in Mexico and Peru who helped feed the script:


Why did you introduce this shamanic dimension into Blueberry's universe?

Because in the world we live in, we tend to say that only one reality exists. I wanted to challenge this received idea by showing another reality, the reality explored by Indians. Our culture masters the material dimension well but not so much the spiritual dimension. For the Indians it's almost the opposite; their culture broaches fundamental questions like nature, reality or consciousness in a sophisticated way, which makes us appear like primitives in comparison!

World order rests on a fragile balance between the different life forces. The shaman is the one who “repairs the disorder” when something breaks the circuit of exchanges; a traveller between worlds, visible and invisible.

Shamanism is a science of the spirit. Indians from the Amazon and Mexico put this technology into practice by using external enhancers like plants. They are disruptive enhancers, literally, because they make you penetrate a much wider reality level and tackle your consciousness in a different way. So the death of your identity appears to be a gateway to another reality. That's the shamanic reality. While the Western world is suffering from a real loss of direction and bowed down by disintegration, we have, like Blueberry, a lot to learn from the Indian world which tries to preserve its ancestral traditions, its historic and cultural heritage.

In a world dominated by the absence of anything sacred and planetary devastation, should we not try to find a new balance oriented towards respecting others?

Did you show the shamans the images of the visions you had tried out for yourself?

First of all I gave them the drawings I had had done. They could identify their universe in them perfectly, sometimes they commented on certain details that needed to be exact and that to them weren't accurate. Then I showed them the film, they authenticated it and we recorded shamanic songs specific to each scene. Saying that, my ambition wasn't to stick too closely to shamanic reality. As it's a fiction film I allowed myself poetic licence and invented a lot of things.

As Andy McKeague from DVD review puts it:

We have double crossings, bounty hunters, shaman Indians, a mystical manuscript and a mysterious ghostly presence in the mountains where the gold is supposedly hidden and a peyote showdown that gets so trippy, the ending of Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey" springs to mind.

Blueberry is not a masterpiece by any means but it is one of the most fresh, inventive and original movies to come along in such a long time it would be a shame to ignore it.

While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by darkness and find the true light.
——Jack Kerouac

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