Five Movies About MDMA

Movies About MDMA

Group of young adults watching a movie
Movies about MDMA can give you insight into the drug state. Altrendo Images / Getty Images

MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy, is a drug which has been popularized by the rave sub-culture since the 1980s. Not as commonly featured in movies as heroin, cocaine, or LSD, it has nonetheless cropped up in a few less mainstream films. Here are five of them.

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go movie poster
Image courtesy IMDB

Go comes across as a cautionary tale, warning young people of the perils of becoming involved in the rave scene. From corrupt police officers, to immoral drug dealers, and idiotic teenagers, it is difficult to like any of the characters. Yet the brutality of some of the scenes are sickening in their lack of humanity.

The overall message of the movie is that you have to be really, really stupid to take ecstasy, and that taking it will make you even more stupid. Your friends can't be trusted, actually, no one else can be trusted, and you don't know what you are taking when you purchase drugs at a rave. Perhaps the most plausible caution is the likelihood that if you buy ecstasy at a rave, you will be spending an extortionate sum of money on what may well be an over-the-counter allergy pill.

And while the brutal attack of a girl who attempts to rip off her dealer may reflect the worst-case scenario for naive drug users, the circumstances that surround it are hard to swallow. Ditto the bizarre behavior of the corrupt police officer and his apparently sex-addicted wife.

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Human Traffic

Human Traffic movie poster
Human Traffic movie poster. Irish Screen Fruit Salad Films

Human Traffic is a British film that attempts to portray the experience of being high on ecstasy, in the context of the rave culture in the UK. It takes a non-judgemental approach to drug use, trying instead to show the reality of drug use among British young people in the 1990s.

In much the same way as another drug-related movie of the 1990s, Trainspotting, drug use is shown in the context of the depressing political reality for young people of the time, as a form of escapism from the mass unemployment and underemployment that the lead characters are faced with. Therefore, although drug use is a choice, rather than a disease, it is a choice made by people with limited choices and ways of coping with a stressful and rather depressing reality.

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Groove movie poster
Groove movie poster. Sony Pictures Classics

Groove again explores ecstasy in the context of the rave scene, this time from the perspective of the San Franciso warehouse rave.

The movie is rather vacuous, although it is well paced. There is no depth to the plot, or to the characters, who range from well intentioned drug dealers, and a young man having his first -- very positive -- ecstasy experience, to a disturbingly wooden cameo appearance by legendary rave DJ and music producer, John Digweed.

Groove is an overwhelmingly positive portrayal of the heyday of the warehouse raves, in which ecstasy is portrayed as an consistently pleasurable experience for everyone who takes it. The film shows none of the negative aspects of the rave scene, or of ecstasy use or its aftermath. The film ends at the peak of the rave, so there is not any exploration of the comedown, readjustment to reality, or even the journey home.

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Coming Down

Coming Down movie image
Coming Down movie image. Matt Winn

As the title implies, Coming Down focuses on the group experience of coming down from drugs, in particular, ecstasy, among a group of friends who have been out using drugs together. After returning from a night clubbing on ecstasy, the group return home and take more drugs.

The movie illustrates some of the grim realities of drug use, including boredom, depression, and peer pressure among drug users to take drugs as part of being one of the social group. The emptiness of drug use and the meaningless of life to a long term ecstasy user is also portrayed in the main character, who no longer feels excited by his relationship with his beautiful girlfriend, and no longer even feels the desire to get high, only doing so due to encouragement from his friends. The incoherent conversations of people high on ecstasy are also shown, along with the interpretation of deeper meanings that drug users sometimes have about each others' almost intelligible speech. We also see all of the characters using other drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, and one character losing consciousness.

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Small Town Ecstasy

Small Town Ecstasymovie image
Small Town Ecstasymovie image. HBO

Small Town Ecstasy is an obscure, disturbing, "fly-on-the-wall" documentary in which an immature and irresponsible Americian father uses ecstasy around his teenage children. The inevitable consequences that result show that you don't have to be a teenager for drugs to ruin your life, and the lives of your family members.

Movies about MDMA may glamorize drug use, but they can also provide insight into what the drug state is like, without the risks that go along with actually taking the drug. You can learn from watching ecstasy movies, but remember, they don't always accurately portray the realities of substance use.