138 user 154 critic

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.


Alejandro Jodorowsky (as Alexandro Jodorowsky)


Alejandro Jodorowsky (as Alexandro Jodorowsky)
4,857 ( 1,464)
4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Alejandro Jodorowsky ... El Topo
Brontis Jodorowsky ... Hijo / Topo's son
José Legarreta José Legarreta ... Moribundo
Alfonso Arau ... Bandido 1
José Luis Fernández José Luis Fernández ... Bandido 2
Ali Junco Ali Junco ... Bandido 3 (as Alí Junco)
Gerardo Zepeda ... Bandido 4 (as Gerardo Cepeda)
René Barrera René Barrera ... Bandido 5
René Alís René Alís ... Bandido 6
Federico Gonzáles Federico Gonzáles ... Bandido 7
Vicente Lara Vicente Lara ... Bandido 8
Pablo Leder Pablo Leder ... Monje 1
Giuliano Girini Sasseroli Giuliano Girini Sasseroli ... Monje 2
Cristian Merkel Cristian Merkel ... Monje 3
Aldo Grumelli Aldo Grumelli ... Monje 4


El Topo decides to confront warrior masters on a transformative desert journey he begins with his six-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 gun-slinger in black, riding a horse through a mystical landscape strewn with American Western 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 | Plot Synopsis


The legendary cult classic See more »


Drama | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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 »


[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 »

Alternate Versions

Many Spanish and other non-English versions are censored, missing most of the sex and violence. Japanese prints on laserdisc have one piece of minor censorship (the scene with the Franciscan monks being ridden and humiliated). See more »

User Reviews

I haven't the time to meditate on this film more than I already have.
8 September 2020 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'acid Western' El Topo is either the work of a truly enlightened genius, or it is a massively pretentious piece of surrealist claptrap, the visual ramblings of a man who has taken far too many psychedelic drugs. Since I am neither a master of Zen spiritualism or a stoner, the film - all two hours and a smidge of it - left me utterly bewildered. I even picked up my hitherto unread copy of ''The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky' looking for answers; sadly, the book is just as hard to fathom.

The film's central character, El Topo (played by Jodorowsky), is a gunslinger who embarks on a quest to defeat four masters, which he does, after which he hangs out with a cave full of physically handicapped people, digging them a tunnel so that they can leave and head for a nearby town where they are promptly gunned down by the townsfolk. This brief synopsis doesn't do the sheer craziness of the film justice, but to catalogue all of the weird stuff that happens would take me forever, suffice to say that there's lots of dead rabbits, much female nudity, loads of bloody gunshots, fun with lizards, a man wearing three hats, eggs buried in sand, a bloke with no arms giving a piggyback to a man with no legs, and a boxing match with barbed wire gloves. And that's just the tip of the drug-fuelled iceberg.

The film is also crammed to the gills with religious symbolism that Jodorowsky no doubt feels is extremely profound, but which I guarantee will be totally lost on the majority of viewers. Sadly, one hundred and twenty five minutes of total confusion does not equal a good time in my book, and, as much as I enjoy strange movies, I cannot say that I had a good time with this one.

Maybe, just maybe, by watching El Topo, I have taken the first small step to my own spiritual enlightenment; more likely - to use an old IMDb cliché - it's just two hours of my life that I'll never get back.

?/10 - I can't really rate what I don't understand.

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Release Date:

15 April 1971 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

El Topo See more »

Filming Locations:

Mexico See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,857, 17 December 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Producciones Panicas See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Klangfilm)


Color (Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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