A young man is confined in a mental hospital. Through a flashback we see that he was traumatized as a child, when he and his family were circus performers: he saw his father cut off the ... See full summary »
Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in 1929 in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert where this film was shot. It was there that Jodorowsky underwent an unhappy and ... See full summary »
Through Alejandro Jodorowsky's autobiographical lens, Endless Poetry narrates the years of the Chilean artist's youth during which he liberated himself from all of his former limitations, ... See full summary »
El Topo decides to confront warrior Masters on a trans-formative desert journey he begins with his 6 year old son, who must bury his childhood totems to become a man. El Topo (the mole) claims to be God, while dressed as a gunfighter in black, riding a horse through a spiritual, mystical landscape strewn with old Western movie, and ancient Eastern religious symbols. Bandits slaughtered a village on his path, so El Topo avenges the massacred, then forcibly takes their leader's woman Mara as his. El Topo's surreal way is bloody, sexual and self-reflective, musing of his own demons, as he tries to vanquish those he encounters. Written by
Yeah, I didn't think much of this surrealist western, even though I was prepared to like it and WANTED to like it was I watched. By the end I couldn't help but feel it's another case of "the emperor's new clothes" in terms of style over substance, and the sum of the whole ending up much less than the individual parts.
The story starts out straightforward enough, with a distinctive gunslinger discovering the aftermath of a massacre and vowing to take revenge on the outlaws responsible. Once that story is out of the way, though, it starts getting weirder and weirder, almost existentialist, as the gunslinger has encounters with a series of deity-like characters in the desert and undergoes a religiously significant transformation. By the end, I was quite frankly bored.
Here's the good stuff: Jodorowsky's cinematography, which is glorious. EL TOPO is vibrant-looking and colourful throughout, and I love the use of surreal imagery which really works. There are poignant scenes and flashes of Peckinpah-style ultra-violence and the contrasting elements are mixed together well. It's just the script, really, which lets it down, becoming too abstract; I always prefer a more concrete narrative as a basis on which to pin the more fantastic elements, but EL TOPO is lacking such a construct and at times just seems to be being made up as it goes along.
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