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.
A young man -- starving, nearly catatonic and barely responsive -- is confined in a sanitarium. He is taken on a field trip along with other residents to the city's red-light district. There, he encounters by chance a woman from his past, triggering a series of flashbacks. We see that he was traumatized as a child, when he and his family were circus performers, and when he witnessed a murder/suicide: his father -- an American expatriate living in Mexico under suspicious circumstances -- cuts off the arms of his beloved mother, a possessive wife and religious fanatic who led a heretical church called "Santa Sangre (Holy Blood)," the members of which worshipped a martyred girl whose arms were severed by her father following her rape, and then commit suicide. Back in the present, buttressed by shock of his remembrance, he escapes the sanitarium and, in a series of hallucinations and dream-fulfillments, believes he has rejoined his armless mother. He "becomes her arms" and the "two" ...Written by
The project was launched when Alejandro Jodorowsky was commissioned to write and direct a film based on real-life Mexican criminal named Gregorio Cárdenas. 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 »
The US has two versions available on video: the R-rated version, which runs about 120 minutes, and the NC-17 version, which is about 123 minutes (the one released uncut in Britain and other European countries). The differences between the two are hardly noticeable except for two scenes - the first scene being the dismemberment of the mother. In the NC-17 version, there are extra cuts of blood and gore spraying on the walls, and then we also see a few extra shots of blood spurting out of the father's neck shortly after he commits suicide (we see this from behind; a startlingly un-explicit shot to be considered NC-17 material). The other scene is even more noticeable. The death of the prostitute is much more explicit in the NC-17 version: we see many shots of her being graphically stabbed in the back and chest with loads of blood literally dumping out of her wounds. Then, we briefly see the knife stab through the back of her neck and poke out the front - all in one explicit shot. Practically the entire scene is missing in the R-rated version. See more »
Once again, Alejandro Jodorowsky has managed to come up with a film that defies genrification even as it defies description. Santa Sangre is, on its surface, something of a suspense/horror film, but under the surface, it's a psychological drama, a black comedy, and about a hundred other genres all meshing in such perfect harmony that it's impossible to easily categorize this masterpiece.
All I can say is, if you have a chance to see this film, definitely do so. While the film is not recommended for those under 18 on the box, it is unrated. Much of the violence here is suggested rather than shown, and what nudity there is is more allegorical and less prurient. Probably not for the squeamish, but never crosses that line between the disturbing and the gross-out.
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