Gambling, Gods and LSD
Writer/director Peter METTLER's Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002) is a 3-hour lyrical investigation across 4 cultures, observing the ways people worldwide create meaning in their lives. From the airport region in Toronto, Mettler goes on to record interviews with people in Las Vegas and the desert around it, in Zurich and the surrounding mountains, and in southern India. Using digital video and 35-mm film, Mettler shot the entire movie himself, mostly through improvisation. In the film he takes very different characters in each location, examines their experiences within their own cultures, and creates a tableau of associations around the ways individuals seek meaning and understanding, whether through sex, gambling, religious faith, drugs or anything else.
Although Mettler originally planned to make a regular-length film, the footage he had captured over 2 years was more than 55 hours long and contained about 100 scenes and a great deal of diversity. The 3-hour version released theatrically is a refined, sculpted version of those original 55 hours.
The film begins with footage taken in the Canadian Shield near Lake Superior, with its ancient rock carvings. Then it moves to suburban Toronto, where Mettler grew up, very close to the airport. There is a scene set in a long-closed, top-floor bar, once a beautiful and inspiring place with expansive views of the adjacent airport. One of the major scenes is a church situated nearby, where some people say God visited several years before. People visit from all over the world to "catch the spirit." They laugh hysterically and speak in tongues.
The film moves on to Monument Valley, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada - Sin City, with its legal gambling and sex trade. The next stop is Zurich, Switzerland, and snippets of an on-air interview with Albert Hofman, the Swiss scientist who accidentally created the formula for LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic drug). The final stop is in southern India, where people practise laugh therapy to achieve transcendence.
Gambling, Gods and LSD examines the mysteries of life, including how it works and how we see the world. It has a hypnotic soundtrack provided by Fred Frith, The Third Eye Foundation and others. The film won the GENIE AWARD for best documentary in 2002.