Various DVD – Welcome To Wonderland

Posted in Reviews 2007 by - April 16, 2007

There’s been an increasing number of trance-flavoured DVD’s released lately, but this is in a class of its own. Instead of focusing on a particular festival, or on artists aligned to a particular label, the premise here is a “proper” documentary looking at the psy scene from a top-down perspective. Aside from Tristan (who only makes a brief appearance anyway), there are no world-famous big names. No lingering, festering shots of hippychicks’ backsides. No interviews with coked-up artistes. And no fucking Raja Ram.

The film is clearly the product of several years’ hard graft; as much is evidenced in the production quality – the nighttime festival sequence alone looks as though it took months. They are interested in the process of a party, rather than the product: taking its footage from several years’ worth of Australian parties, they weave it together into a feature that somehow captures the spirit without lavishing attention on any single specific area.

The time factor also has a nostalgic effect. Jaw-dropping Mutoid Waste décor is a far cry from anything you’d see at current parties, and it’s been years since I’ve seen people dressed up and “party-cipating” as much as this. Musically, Welcome To Wonderland lives in a time where Australian acts made music for Australia – that stripped-down, scratchy sound that’s a million miles from euphoric Isra-European oldskool.

The interviews with punters, crew, and musicians are interesting: save for one battered lass who crops up far too much, vacuously stating the bleeding obvious. Characters hint at their lives before partying, with the common thread that things got better once they found “this”. And in a sense, that’s the spirit Welcome To Wonderland leaves you with.

The movie reminds you why you’re here. Why you keep doing this after you found it. What makes it special. For an hour or so after watching, you’ll want to listen to oldskool, stick a bindi on your forehead, put your hair back in dreads, and rename your dog Shanti. Possibly. Look, you see what I mean: a well-produced, holistic flick like this actually leaves you thinking about it the next day. Of all the doof DVD’s around at the moment, this is the only one people will still be watching in twenty years.

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