This week our writers peruse the psychedelic and hone in on the hallucinative in their exploration of Michael Glawogger's absurd Austrian stoner comedy CONTACT HIGH (2009).
"Contact high" is a term used to describe the situation in which a person begins to feel high simply from being around someone who is under the influence of an illegal drug. CONTACT HIGH (2009), directed by the late Michael Glawogger, is a zany and outlandish drug-fuelled adventure that, as the names implies, aims to make the audience feel just as intoxicated as the two main characters, Max (Michael Ostrowski) and Johann (Raimund Wallisch). Throughout this episodic story, the mise-en-scène is used creatively to invite us into a world of trippy visuals, bizarre characters and outlandishly offbeat events.
The film treats space and environment like a blank canvas on which Glawogger inventively designs each visually stimulating trip. Everyday places such as busy nightclubs, classically designed train carriages and decidedly drab apartments become playgrounds for Max and Johann to occupy. The use of such mundane areas only serves to amplify the effects of drugs. Seemingly normal areas are transformed time and time again into colourful and vibrant scenes that often do not make sense in the real world. We are invited to exist within them as well. Yet, with each new scene being more random than the last, we are left confused and unable to make sense of any narrative structure. This is especially the case toward the end of the film where the plot seems to be abandoned altogether for a trip that allows the audience to fully indulge in the grand scale, spectacular animations created with rich, vibrant colours.
In a film where the only function appears to be to visualise the effects of drugs, the mise-en-scène is crucial. The heightened and exaggerated visuals are obviously meant to replicate being high, a state in which all the senses are at their most intense. CONTACT HIGH’s mise-en-scène offers a visual display of the effects of drug use that sets out to create the same chaotic, nonsensical and truly confusing feeling for its audience that Max and Johann experience.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch CONTACT HIGH on mubi.com until 19 May 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.