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
I was initially excited about seeing El Topo. Not only had it received excellent critical reviews, but I also found various postings on the Internet praising the film as a masterpiece. Well, I'm here to say that this is a vastly overrated student art film.
The symbolism is overdone and sophomoric at best. In fact, it is as if the director thought symbolism could be substituted for plot and character development, forgetting that these are tools used to enhance them. Also, the overly hackneyed and simplistic symbolism takes away from the surreal experience that the director intended to create. It was akin to viewing the subconscious of a mental midget: weird but boring as all hell!!
I'm not even going to dwindle on the violence. It goes without saying that over time it has lost its shock value. However, it was not necessarily gratuitous--although the symbolism was--and did add to the story.
Overall, if you like freaky stuff for the sake of freakishness, this film is up your alley. But, if you want more substance and meaningful development avoid El Topo at all possible cost. I know I want those two hours of my life back!
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