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Film & TV

Blueberry (2004) – Acid Western Film

Blueberry - Acid Western

Blueberry is a 2004 French acid Western directed by Jan Kounen. It is an adaptation of the Franco-Belgian comic book series Blueberry, illustrated by Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius) and scripted by Jean-Michel Charlier. However, the film has little in common with the source material. The film starred Vincent Cassel as the title character along with Michael Madsen and Juliette Lewis. Although the film is a French production, the film is in English to match the story’s setting in America’s Wild West in the 1870s. Since the character of Blueberry remains obscure in the States, the film was released on DVD in America in November 2004 under the title Renegade and marketed very much as a conventional Western, not as an acid Western.

Blueberry - Acid WesternThe story begins as U.S. Marshal Mike Donovan (Vincent Cassel) (referred to as Broken Nose by the native tribe; unlike the comic his nickname is not Blueberry) has dark memories of the death of his first love. He keeps peace between the Americans and the natives who had temporarily adopted and taken care of him. The evil actions of Blount, a “white sorcerer” lead him to confront the villain in the Sacred Mountains, and, through shamanic rituals involving a native entheogenic brew, conquer his fears and uncover a suppressed memory he would much rather deny.

The movie features several elaborate psychedelic 3D computer graphics sequences as a means of portraying Blueberry’s shamanic experiences from his point of view. Jan Kounen, the director of the film, drew upon his extensive firsthand knowledge of ayahuasca rituals in order to design the visuals for these sequences, Kounen having undergone the ceremony at least a hundred times with Shipibo language speakers in Peru. An authentic Shipibo ayahuasca guide appears in the film and performs a sacred chant. In the film, the exact nature of the entheogenic sacramental liquid which Blueberry (and his enemy, Blount) drink remains undisclosed. During the final visionary scene, however, there is a bowl of leaves shown accompanied by a twisting vine which is probably the ayahuasca vine, Banisteriopsis caapi. Historically, Native Americans living in the Southwest United States, would have had no geographic access to ayahuasca.

Peyote is shown growing in the sacred areas throughout the film, and the buttons are prominently displayed at the end, although the viewer cannot be sure what Runi offers to the Marshal either time.

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