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Alejandro Jodorowsky

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Year Title Rating
1968 Fando and Lis 7.5/10
1970 El Topo 7/10
1973 The Holy Mountain 8/10
1980 Tusk 6.5/10
1989 Santa sangre 8/10
1990 >>The Rainbow Thief .../...
2013 >>The Dance of Reality .../...
2013 Frank Pavich - Jodorowsky's Dune 7/10
2016 >>Endless Poetry .../...

Review last updated: July 16, 2021

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Alejandro Jodorowsky may appear like a raving lunatic, but really, he is a genius. He documents the relationship between the cerebral metaphors, symbolism, and social commentary of the conscious mind, and the primal, instinctive sexual desires of the subconscious. There is always some element of psychosexual stimulation in his films, and always something blasphemous, sinful, and taboo in the melting pot. He was a contemporary of the original surrealists, making films that were not only disturbing and abrasive on the surface, but also dreamlike, poetic, abstract, and confusing, staying true to the worship of nonsense that is Dadaism. I always appreciate and admire artists who are able and willing to make work that not only disturbs, but provokes crazy, unpredictable reactions from people, probably because I relate to them. Read any review on Letterboxd for Fando y Lis and you will discover that the premier of the film, which was produced illegally, sparked a riot at the Acapulco Film Festival, which cancelled the festival permanently. Yes, really. Jodorowsky received death threats for his portrayals of older women as sexual, hedonistic creatures. But he also provoked people in that film with the blasphemous song and dance in a cemetery, the flock of (real, not just male actors) transgender women, the orgy, and the implications of rape. He frequently uses animals (elephants, tigers, frogs, disgusting tarantulas, scorpions, sheep), little people, drag queens/transgender women, obese/overweight people, amputees/disabled people, individuals with Downs syndrome, to not only reel in his audience, but to create eye-opening metaphors, reinforce the dreamlike experience, deconstruct societal norms and traditions, and cement the feeling of chaos and confusion. He creates symbols of castration, explicitly documents Oedipus complex, and portrays many women as domineering, aggressive, independent, and brutal (oh yeah), but also deeply beautiful, mysterious and sexual.

I have not seen more than 5 minutes El Topo because I am uncomfortable with a naked little boy being onscreen for as long as he is. It freaks me out that that's Jodorowsky and his own son, Brontis Jodorowsky. And it also freaks me out they could just put naked children in films in the '60s and '70s????

Jodorowsky is also a known psychedelic drug advocate, having supplied his actors with mushrooms during the filming of The Holy Mountain, a film that is part spiritual meditation, part political social commentary or satire, and part shocking and provocative. Mostly paid for by John Lennon, with music by Don Cherry, and starring Jodorowsky himself as the Christ, the transcendental journey is sure to enlighten anyone who sees it. It boasts not only breathtaking colorful visuals, gorgeous cinematography, mind-bending set design and costume design, but some of the most neurotic and unsettling surrealism in cinema. It takes apart the war-mongering, child-corrupting, slave labor-exploiting capitalist society, many people's greed or addiction-fueled quest for instant gratification, the commercialization and industrialization of religion/Christianity, and many oppressive gender roles and stereotypes. Some of the most memorable, visceral, entrancing, and terrifying images are: a naked person being covered in live spiders, someone actually pooping in a jar, a society of well-dressed frogs serving the holy frog king, a man in a big black hat shaving two naked women's heads, and the naked Christ running through a rainbow tunnel. It is one of the greatest films to have ever been made, and his true masterpiece. I can only imagine what the average Christian would think of this movie.

Santa sangre explores a parasitic, abusive, and dysfunctional relationship between a son and his armless mother. The film (which is probably the most true to his Mexican and South American culture) deals with childhood trauma, implications of incest, murder, and infidelity. Some of the craziest images in this film are the Tattooed Woman (a woman tattooed to look like a reptile), the gang of individuals with Downs syndrome using cocaine, a grown man taking a knife to a little boy's chest and cutting lines in the shape of a phoenix, a wife pouring acid on her husband's genitals as punishment for cheating (castration again). The film has a more cohesive, more captivating, and more traditionally engaging plot than his other films, venturing into psychological thriller and murder mystery territory. It's not his best but it is very, very good.