Dutch filmmaker Jan Kounen, primarily known for his ultra-violent gangster flick Doberman and El Topo-esque western Blueberry, spent several months in the Amazon with Shipibo Shamans experimenting with Ayahuasca, a psychoactive infusion prepared from vines and plants containing DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). Ayahuasca is a holy sacrament which the indigenous people and Shamans of the Amazon have known as a powerful holistic purgative medicine capable of great healing and transformation for thousands of years.
While in the Amazon, Kounen made the documentary Other Worlds. The film depicts the Shamanic culture and their underlying belief systems which stem from their knowledge of the Invisible. According to Kounen, the objective of the documentary “is to impress upon viewers that these little-known Indians developed veritable cognitive technology through their own sciences of the spirit, thousands of years ago. To me, these men are warriors in the battle to unlock the mysteries of consciousness. Shamans consider the greatest ally and the worst enemy of every individual to be one and the same… himself or herself.” In the film, Kounen primarily shows the therapeutic power of the Shamans and their plant teachers. This power is a type of ancestral psychoanalysis or human psychotherapy backed by 4,000 years of experience and practice.
Inexplicably, Other Worlds made in 2004 has never been released in the United States. It is only available on import DVD.
In this excerpt from the film, we see night vision shots of Kounen after he has ingested Ayahuasca followed by CGI images the director created to replicate his visual experiences during his “trip.”
In another excerpt from Other Worlds, Nobel Prize winner Kari Mullis, DMT cosmonaut Rick Strassman (author of The Spirit Molecule) and artist Alex Grey
discuss the mind expanding qualities of Ayahuasca.
In the same year that Kounen filmed Other Worlds, he made an adaptation of the popular French comic book series Blueberry, illustrated by Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius) and scripted by Jean-Michel Charlier. Released in the USA as Renegade, this “western” draws from Kounen’s Ayahuasca experiences to spin a tale that’s less interested in your typical cowboy revenge scenario and more engaged with the spiritual epiphany our hero experiences after drinking some psychedelic tea (peyote?). Reminiscent of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Blueberry is narratively flimsy but ravishing to look at. CGI has never been put to more cosmic effect. Jan describes the making of Blueberry:
“You can’t depict a mystical experience until you have lived through one. You might as well expect a virgin to make a film about desire, sensuality or love. I spent several months with shamans in the Amazon rainforest. I made more than 100 inner journeys, thanks to their visionary plants. I cannot put what I lived through into words: it took me four years to return from that place and to metabolize two films: a documentary on “other worlds” and Blueberry itself. Making that feature film, I again met the shamans, who have come to play themselves in this strange western where visions link two cultures.”
For more info on Jan Kounen and to purchase the DVD of Other Worlds visit his website