A French Psychedelia Collection

24 Apr

For its 3rd birthday the DPV is featuring a series of psychedelic videos specials which will run between the 22 and the 28 of April 2013. Stay tuned for more of our psychedelic specials.

The term “psychedelic’ which is etymologically derived from the Greek psykhe- “mind” + deloun “make visible, reveal,” from delos “visible, clear,” was invented by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957  to describe the effects of hallucinogenic psychotropic drugs inducing altered states of perception. From consciousness modification to consciousness transformation, the term was deeply explored during the turbulent 1960’s. All over the cultural spectrum, many  artists attempted to recreate  the psychedelic experience through various Media.

Today, a new generation of artists goes back to the sources of historical psychedelia to bring what we call the third psychedelic revolution (the second was the creation of electronic music in the 80’s).

The idea of consciousness expansion is developed  through stage-performance, community and “total art” phantasm. Thus, we will be tempted to refer to psychedelic experience instead of general psychedelia: There is no psychedelic art, only experiences.

In contrast to the clichés of  “flower power” and the summer of love,  French psychedelia is an experience of numerous, miscellaneous and fundamentally experimental forms.

From music clips to cinema, through cartoons and video art experimentation  this collection has no pretension of being exhaustive, but I assume it covers a part of the range of  French psychedelia!

  • Enter the Void // Gaspard Noé

A drug dealer becomes interested in death and re-incarnation after reading “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”. Suddenly dead, his soul floats through Tokyo observing the dramas of his friends and foes. An oath determines his next step ‘as a soul’.

  • Alain Bashung – Variations Sur Marilou

A 9-minutes musical short film on the famous song by Serge Gainsbourg, “Variations sur Marilou”, interpreted in 2006 by Alain Bashung.

The song rests between reality and fantasy. The music video explores this aspect by showing Marilou’s gestures, parallel to the imaginary world of desire, all at once. It thus responds to the very daring worlds of Bashung and Gainsbourg. Maxime Bruneel’s challenge was to create images which won’t be too shocking… The result is closer to Gustav Courbet’s “Origine du monde” than to today’s pornographic films.

  • Serge Gainsbourg // Histoire De Melody Nelson

Histoire de Melody Nelson” is a 1971 concept album by French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. The Lolita-esque pseudo-autobiographical plot involves the middle-aged Gainsbourg unintentionally colliding his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost into teenage nymphet Melody Nelson’s bicycle, and the subsequent seduction and romance that ensues. Histoire de Melody Nelson is considered by many critics and fans to be Gainsbourg’s most influential and accomplished album.

  • Billy Ze Kick – Mangez-Moi

Billy Ze Kick are a French band from the 1990s, with lots of psychedelic references and overtones. Their song “Mangez-Moi” (eat me) in which the band goes mushroom picking in the forest and different magic mushrooms beg them to eat them and promise to open their minds, was a big hit in 1990s France. Apparently not everybody realized what the song was really about…

  • Barbarella // Roger Vadim

In the far future, a highly sexual woman is tasked with finding and stopping the evil Durand-Durand. Along the way she encounters various unusual people.

  • Marcel Duchamp – Anemic Cinema

 Anemic Cinema or Anémic Cinéma (1926) is a Dadaist, surrealist, or experimental film made by Marcel Duchamp. The film depicts whirling animated drawings — which Duchamp called Rotoreliefs — alternated with puns in French. Duchamp signed the film with his alter ego name of Rrose Sélavy.

Rotoreliefs were a phase of Duchamp’s spinning works. To make the optical “play toys” he painted designs on flat cardboard circles and spun them on a phonograph turntable that when spinning the flat disks appeared 3-dimensional. He had a printer run off 500 sets of six of the designs and set up a booth at a 1935 Paris inventors’ show to sell them. The venture was a financial disaster, but some optical scientists thought they might be of use in restoring 3-dimensional sight to people with one eye.

In collaboration with Man Ray and Marc Allégret, Duchamp filmed early versions of the Rotoreliefs and they named the first film version Anémic Cinéma.

  • Chris Marker’s “La Jetée”

Seven and a half minutes of the 26-minute film that inspired Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys.

A man (Davos Hanich) is a prisoner in the aftermath of the Third World War, in a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. Scientists research time travel, hoping to send test subjects to different time periods “to call past and future to the rescue of the present”. They have difficulty finding subjects who can mentally withstand the shock of time travel, but eventually settle upon the prisoner, whose key to the past is a vague but obsessive memory, from his pre-war childhood, of a woman (Hélène Chatelain) he had seen on the observation platform (‘the jetty’) at Orly Airport shortly before witnessing a startling incident there. He had not understood exactly what happened, but knew he had seen a man die…

  • Jan Kounen / The last red chaperone

Since Jan Kounen is one of my favorite director, I already posted several of his fantastic videos. You can see the list here. Be sure to catch his awesome ayahuasca scene from the film  Renegade (aka Bluberry).

  • Ultimaya lab. Productions // Cosmic Joker // Travel in illusion

Ultimaya impulsion is a virtual area that promotes the investigation into consciousness mainly through the medium of Video Feedback and its modulations.  It supports multidisciplinary research into video, sound, art, science, advaita vedanta … We explore the interplay of reality and illusion, attempting innovative mystical, shamanic-like approaches.

Ultimaya is an open collective of artists performing visual and musical experiments, reflecting their vision of a sub-conscious interconnected global psyche.


  • Gandahar

Gandahar (René Laloux), is a French animated science fiction and fantasy film released in 1988 in the U.S. It is based on Jean-Pierre Andrevon’s novel Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar (The Machine-Men versus Gandahar).

The peaceful people of Gandahar are suddenly attacked by an army of automatons known as the Men of Metal, who march through the villages and petrify their victims with lasers. The resulting statues are then collected and transferred to their base. At the capital city of Jasper, the Council of Women orders Sylvain to investigate. On his journey, he encounters the Deformed, a race of mutant beings who were accidentally created via genetic experimentation by Gandahar’s scientists. Despite their resentment, they are also threatened by the Men of Metal and offer to help Sylvain.

We also published a post about his master piece titled ” Fantastic planet”, here is the link to get a picture:


  • Gong – Zeroid

Gong is a Franco-British progressive/psychedelic rock band formed by Australian musician Daevid Allen. Their music has also been described as space rock.

and here, an other video DPV already published in the past!


  • Space – Magic Fly

A French band who never made a single success in France, but filled up the Red Place in Moscow…

  • Le Lit de la Vierge – Philippe Garrel

A Philippe Garrel movie from 1969 depicting enigmatic variations of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and world after may ’68.

  • La montagne sacrée // Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Sacred Mountain is a 1973 cult film directed by Chilean-French Alejandro Jodorowsky who also participated as an actor, composer, set designer, and costume designer on this film. It’s a masterpiece and a must-see!

The film is based on Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of the Cross and Mount Analogue by René Daumal, who was a student of G.I. Gurdjieff. In this film much of Jodorowsky’s visually psychedelic story follows the metaphysical thrust of Mount Analogue. This is revealed in such events as the climb to the Alchemist, the assembly of individuals with specific skills, the discovery of the mountain that unites Heaven and Earth “that cannot not exist” and symbolic challenges along the mountain ascent. Daumal died before finishing his allegorical novel, and Jodorowsky’s improvised ending provides a way of completing the work (both symbolically and otherwise.)

NB: I want to dedicate this birthday post to my beloved dog “Trakass”, aka “Blondin” who died last Saturday after a tragic accident…May his soul escort us along the rest of our lives…R.I.P my boy…

One Response to “A French Psychedelia Collection”

  1. Taask January 19, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    The DMT scene is absolutely incredible

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: