Ten Films that Succeed in Capturing the Drug Experience


‘Waking Life’

[Editor’s note: When Caveh Zahedi‘s Getting Stoned with Caveh premiered at UnionDocs and on Keyframe last winter, we asked the professor and filmmaker for some further insights…. We replay the set originally published last year as 4/20/2015 looms.]

Contact (1997)
The only scene I liked in this movie, the scene where Jodie Foster is launching into space and then is suddenly on this weird desert island with aliens talking to her, is a perfect cinematic representation of a mushroom trip.

Trainspotting (1996)
I had grown up on movies that always portrayed heroin as an extremely unattractive drug, so it was refreshing to have someone show how great it can be and it really helped me understand why people go to such lengths for it.



Go (1999)
There is a scene in which a guy on Ecstasy hears a cat speaking to him telepathically.

Easy Rider (1969)
The LSD drug trip sequence shot in New Orleans was edited together by Bruce Conner, the great experimental found footage filmmaker. It was shot as a trailer to help raise money for the film a year before the beginning of principal photography.


‘Easy Rider’

Waking Life (2001)
This whole film is a drug trip.

Knocked Up (2007)
There is a scene in which Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd are tripping on mushrooms in a hotel room in Vegas. It is funny and accurate and just really clear that Judd Apatow knows what he’s talking about.


‘Knocked Up’

Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Kids (1995)
When Harmony Korine feeds Chloe Sevingy a pill at a club, you can viscerally feel the drug hitting.


‘Cabeza de Vaca’

Taking Woodstock (2009)
There’s a scene towards the end of the film where the main character takes LSD just as the anarchic enormity of the concert is starting to sink in. I watched that scene and thought, wow, Ang Lee sure got LSD right. I had lunch with James Schamus afterward and he told me that Ang Lee had never tripped, and that he managed pull off this incredibly accurate rendering by doing a lot of reading on the subject.

Cabeza de Vaca (1991) ­
The portrayal of Native Americans in this film seemed, for once, not just a projection of the Western imagination, but unknowably other. Our laws of physical reality don’t hold sway in the cosmology of this film.

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