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El topo (1970)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 15 April 1971 (Mexico)
A mysterious black-clad gunfighter wanders a mystical Western landscape encountering multiple bizarre characters.

Director:

(as Alexandro Jodorowsky)

Writer:

(as Alexandro Jodorowsky)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Brontis Jodorowsky ...
José Legarreta ...
Moribundo
...
Bandido 1
José Luis Fernández ...
Bandido 2
Alf Junco ...
Bandido 3 (as Alí Junco)
Gerardo Zepeda ...
Bandido 4 (as Gerardo Cepeda)
René Barrera ...
Bandido 5
René Alís ...
Bandido 6
Federico Gonzáles ...
Bandido 7
Vicente Lara ...
Bandido 8
Pablo Leder ...
Monje 1
Giuliano Girini Sasseroli ...
Monje 2
Cristian Merkel ...
Monje 3
Aldo Grumelli ...
Monje 4
Edit

Storyline

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 David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Definitive Cult Spaghetti Western

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 April 1971 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

The Gopher  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Klangfilm)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
El Topo: [to his son] You are seven years old. You are a man. Bury your first toy and your mother's picture.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits in the English-dubbed version of El Topo state that ABKCO Films copyrighted the film in 1967; however, ABKCO didn't purchase (any rights to) it until June of 1971! See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Beast Within: The Making of 'Alien' (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Style over substance
2 September 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

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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