A former circus artist escapes from a mental hospital to rejoin his armless mother - the leader of a strange religious cult - and is forced to enact brutal murders in her name as he becomes "her arms".
In a Chilean little town, the son of an uprooted couple, formed by a rigorous communist father and a loving but weak mother, tries to pave his own path in a society that does not understand their Jewish-Ukrainian origins.
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
The title of the movie and the main character's name are a metaphor of the underground cinema in the sixties. The mole digs holes so as to emerge from the underground to the surface. This was happening with some low-budget movies that quickly gained mainstream popularity. See more »
The opening scene is of a man on horseback riding through the desert, although the horse is on deep sand the sound is of a horse on hard ground. See more »
[to his son]
You are seven years old. You are a man. Bury your first toy and your mother's picture.
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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 »
I have seen three movies by Alejandro Jodorowsky - 'El Topo', 'The Holy Mountain' and 'Santa Sangre' - each are amazing, but 'El Topo' to me is the most successful. I was almost going to say "most accessible" but that would be misleading! It's still a difficult movie, steeped in religious and occult symbolism and allegory. I doubt whether anyone but Jodorowsky himself truly "gets it", but it is still the most watchable and entertaining of the three, and the best introduction to his work.
Jodorowsky not only writes and directs he plays the title role (translates as "The Mole"), a mysterious black-clad gunfighter who claims to be God. I won't bore with a detailed retelling of the plot, but it initially involves El Topo's quest to find and fight the four masters of the desert, and ends up with him becoming part of strange community of outcasts who live underground. But there's much more to than that, just watch it for yourself.
'El Topo' was a cult favourite thirty years ago, and still stands as one of the most extraordinary movies ever made. Nobody but Jodorowsky has even come close to repeating it. Currently difficult to find, but persevere, it's worth looking for. A truly unique piece of cinema that no-one who watches will ever forget!
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