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".
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 »
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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 arms of his mother, a religious fanatic and leader of the heretical church of Santa Sangre ("Holy Blood"), and then commit suicide. Back in the present, he escapes and rejoins his surviving and armless mother. Against his will, he "becomes her arms" and the two undertake a grisly campaign of murder and revenge.
All the films advertised at the cinema where the Downs syndrome youngsters are dropped off were directed by the film's executive producer, René Cardona Jr.. See more »
When the elephant is dying, all the close-ups of its trunk bleeding show the trunk to be clean. All the long shots of the elephant show it's trunk covered in blood. See more »
[Fenix crouches naked atop a tree trunk in his barren asylum room]
[enters along with orderlies pushing a food cart]
[offers him a normal meal]
Eat like a human being.
[puts the tray back down and offers him a raw fish]
[jumps down and grabs the fish]
[...] See more »
[over the final freeze-frame] I stretch out my hands to thee: my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land ... Teach me the way I should go, for to thee I lift up my soul. - Psalms 143.6, 8 See more »
There's so much you can say about this work. Vivid characters, colours, and situations that practically leap off the screen into the theatre next to you. A wonderfully quirky, repeatedly startling story. Graceful low-key cinematography that turns slums and sideshows into an eerily beautiful netherworld, countless images that look like you could freeze them and hang them as inspirational totems for cults we have to hope don't exist. Jodorowsky paints with a heavy, vibrant brush, but it's the perfect tone for this primal-yet-humanizing tale.
But I should post a warning. As far as I'm concerned, my first viewing of this film was one of the more worthwhile two hours or so I've ever spent in a theatre, and I think based on my experience that this sadly neglected wonder deserves every bit of word-of-mouth promotion it can get. But I'm betting it's not to everyone's taste.
So this is my advice: if you found Storaro's green and red/jungle foliage and human remains canvasses in Apocalypse Now unsettlingly beautiful the first time you saw them, and wondered momentarily whether still prints were available for hanging before realizing what you were actually suggesting to yourself, here's a film for you. If you found Delicatessan's celebration of the paradoxical beauty hiding in human ugliness and stupidity a bit too sanitized for your taste, Santa Sangre's rather murkier depths await. You will love this work.
If, on the other hand, you have no taste for painters who work best in human blood as opposed to oils, and/or don't appreciate a bloody carnality mixed in with your religious metaphor, you will quite probably hate it with a passion that exceeds my affection. And I don't really blame you or judge you for walking out early. It takes all kinds.
Either way, fondly or with revulsion, you will remember it vividly, ten years later. I can say this confidently, as that's how long it was from the first time I saw this film to the day I wrote this review. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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