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 »
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 »
So far I had only seen Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre", but that one happens to be my all-time favorite film! One thing's for sure with this director whenever you check out one of his films for the first time: you should expect the unexpected and prepare yourself for not believing what your own eyes are observing most of the time. Just in case you really have to label "El Topo" with a genre, it would presumably be Western, but that still doesn't give you any idea of the film's content whatsoever. Within the first ten minutes alone, things occur that are already too weird to mention (like grown men shooting at women's shoes and bandits dancing and caressing monks!!) and these sequences aren't relevant to the actual plot yet! Well, I'd love to summarize the main story lines, but the truth is that I didn't understand one iota of it all. The pivot character El Topo, portrayed by the director himself, rides through the desert with a 7-year-old naked kid in tow. He exchanges the kid for a beautiful woman after defeating a gang of thugs and goes on a quest to visit four "masters" of the desert. Subsequently, he joins a community of mountain people and fervently helps them coming out of their dark habitat and into the open world. Yes, it's a very vague description, but that's because I didn't know what was going on anyway. Most likely, you won't either and that's not an insult to your personal intellect! It's just a messed up movie that you mainly just need to watch for its visual brilliance, symbolism and extremely stylish choreography. Every single character that walks through the screen is a demented & complex individual, and the protagonist is the absolute biggest weirdo of them all. He actually claims to be God himself and really believes it, too and does the most unpredictable things imaginable. Admittedly, this film isn't suitable for entertainment purposes. It's an intense and demanding experience that you should approach with an open state of mind and loads of patience. Purely elite cinema that can't be compared to anything else ever made.
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