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
Years later, Alejandro Jodorowsky, ashamed of the part he forced his own son to play, invited him to his house. He went with his son to the backyard and asked him to dig. Inside the hole, there was an old teddy bear and an old picture of his mother, and Alexandro said: "Now you are 8 years old, and you have the right to be a kid". 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 »
A religious allegorical western of redemption with surrealist imagery.
"El Topo", is probably Jodorowsky's most talked about film next to "Santa Sangre". Like all his films it is bizarre and full of symbolism. El Topo is a cowboy dressed in black. He is out for vengeance, kind of like the Biblical God of the old testament. Him and his son ride through a town of massacred civilians. He wants justice and to win the heart of a girl, Mara. He gives up his only son, in an act that could be looked at like God, or even Abraham. He has to kill seven master gunfighters. After all the violence and carnage, he is injured and taken under the care of cripples, dwarfs and other various misfits. He is reborn, almost like a Bhuddist monk. He becomes like the new testament God, Jesus Christ. El Topo is now like a savior to the oppressed. He vows to dig a tunnel out of the cave so the cripples can live among the villagers. The town is taken over by religious fanatics. Poor villagers are branded with the religious icon by force. An upper class of elitists now dominate the town. "El Topo" is beautiful, and chocked full of violent and disturbing imagery. The film became a popular cult sensation in the early 70's. It was embraced by the likes of John Lennon, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. More recently celebrities like Marilyn Manson and the Coen Brothers have talked about being strongly influenced by Jodorowsky's work. "El Topo" is important, because it was the first midnight movie. If people could forget about "the Rocky Horror Picture Show" just for a second, they'd realize that this is one of the most important cult films. A bizarre and surreal western that can never be imitated. The only 3 surreal westerns I can think of to pre-date "El Topo" that have many similarities are Brazilian director Glauber Rocha's "Black God, White Devil" (1964) and his follow up "Antonio Das Mortes" (1969) and the Italian Spaghetti western "Django, Kill if you Live, Shoot" (1967).
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