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) ... See full summary »
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 »
Wudang Mountain, home of Wudang Kung Fu and Taiji, has been a mysterious place, inspiring the faithful and inviting the followers of Taoism to find shelter and healing in the secluded, subtropical mountain sanctuary.
A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful people, each representing a planet in the Solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide's assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal. Written by
Marty Cassady <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jodorowsky recalls that the lizard and toad circus was difficult to prepare for and film. The toads themselves were hard to dress, as "their urine was like acid," and they'd keep filling up with air and then blowing it out, trying to escape. The lizards, on the other hand, were incredibly sedate, and the cameraman would have to leave the camera rolling for long periods of time before they'd even flick their tongues or move their eyes. See more »
For me, there are a variety of ways to encounter a film or any piece of art and consider it worth existing in my life.
Perhaps the most sought is art that is like a lover: honest, direct, deep, challenging, attuned. Then there are all sorts of seductions that play on these harmonies. Jodorowsky isn't interested in being true; he's interested in the seduction, in a sort of truth lingerie that teases and charms.
I knew this of course. I've seen "Fando," which I considered without merit, in large part because it was uncinematic. I wondered what this man would do once he learned the vocabulary. Now I know. The first part of this project has some of the most creative and effective cinematic stretches I have seen and I've seen a lot. They are weighed down with an adolescent cosmology, but its acceptable because its a proudly Mexican film, and the Mexicans are presented as similarly limited.
So I'll recommend that you watch this, for all the bits from the beginning up until roughly the middle act where his new Tarot is presented. These are more well thought out than it appears. Its a strange, polar mix: the general impression is that this is wholly ad-libbed with a deep anarchist philosophy. Yet some elements and particularly his redrawing of the more colorful segment of the Tarot show some similarly deep understanding of what he undercuts. Its a very appealing thing, this bicameral scintillation, and done with cinematic immersion.
Its the third act that drags. This is not a man who understands long form and its demands. Perhaps the Quay brothers are his successors and they suffer from the same problem. Anyway, the effort gets dreary as the social commentary is paraded before us, almost as if he cannot help himself. The lack of restraint is an art in itself, the art of disappointment, but I can get that in daily life, and with as much pride and flourish.
The end isn't novel: the crew is revealed as the "final layer" is peeled off the onion. But it is effective, and underscores the similar, earlier folds.
What's interesting is wondering now how this could be done better if it were done now. Quite apart from the structural flaws, would the ability to use special effects technology and computer reality help? Would Rodriguez, for instance be able to sharpen and deepen this?
And the sexual bits. There is a fair amount of nudity, but it is the "Catholic nation" kind: sterile, even when actual sex is supposed to be shown. For such a committed anarchist, one wonders. Its one thing to be just outside of the bounds of acceptable behavior in a theater setting: simple nudity and confrontation works there. But here, in a cinematic world that dips beyond the theatrical, is it enough to merely pretend you are committed, showing that you are not? Winterbottom? Greenaway?
If you see this on the restored DVD, there's a nice short feature on the Tarot, just the 22 cards. It oddly doesn't show the Jodorowsky version of those cards, which you can see in the film. Those cards are every bit as engaging as the film is, even though to look at them you have to stop and leave the film to see them. They aren't just an interpretation, but a whole new reimagining.
Here's a little known bit of history that I participated in. The Beatles wanted to reinterpret Tarot in an album, and had more success than here. Dylan too, and several other artists in their respective worlds. Jodorowsky was a part of this, a bit later. If you look, you can see that he is not just reinterpreting the Marseilles Tarot, but the Beatle/Dylan/Fowles one as well.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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