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figlio di Ebrei russi cresciuto in America Latina,
USA ed Europa, clown, marionettista e mimo, Alejandro Jodorowsky
proviene dal teatro surrealista (Arrabal) di cui ha trasferito sullo schermo
l'insistenza simbolica e la visionaria ambiguita`.
Alejandro Jodorowsky (Chile, 1929) was born to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants in Chile. In 1947 he founded his theatrical group Teatro Mimico. He left Chile to study mime in Paris, and joined Marcel Marceau's troupe.
After moving to Paris,
he directed the short film "La Cravate/ The Severed Heads" (1957), a mime adaptation of a Thomas Mann story (the film was lost for 50 years).
In 1960 he started commuting between Mexico and France.
In 1962 he founded the artistic collective Movimiento Panico (with French artist Roland Topor and Spanish surrealist writer Fernando Arrabal, influenced by Artaud's "Theatre of Cruelty" and by dadaism.
He organized happenings and performances such as the
four-hour "Sacramental Melodrama" (1965).
Now permanently relocated to Mexico, he began the comic strip
"Anibal 5" (1966) in collaboration with illustrator Manuel Moro.
In 1967 Jodorowsky became a disciple of a Zen Buddhist monk.
His first feature-length film Fando y Lis (1968), shot in black and white by Mexican cinematographer Rafael Corkidi, is an adaptation of the post-apocalyptic 1962 Arrabal play, turning it into an oneiric, delirious, brutal parable
set in a nightmarish dystopian world of absolute moral decay.
The film is more closely related to performance art of the era than to Bunuel's
Unfortunately, the film as a whole makes little or no sense, and what stands out are only a few scenes.
A young blond woman is eating a rose while we hear the sound of the ocean.
The narrating voiceover informs us that all cities have been destroyed by the
great catastrophe except Tar.
A young man who has a funnel for a hat plays a record on a grammophone.
A child bothers an adult asking him a series of annoying questions, but the adult constantly outsmarts him until the child gives up.
The young man loads the blond girl, a doll and the grammophone into a cart and
they take off towards Tar, but stop in front of a ruined building where strange
people hang out: a jazz saxophonist, a woman sheltering under an umbrella,
an aristocratic woman in a white dress dancing to the jazz music, a pianist playing a burning piano.
Lis laments that she is paralyzed.
A flashback shows her as a little girl in an empty theater, the only spectator,
as a puppetmaster ends his puppet show. He then helps the little girl climb
on the other side of the curtain, where she is surrounded by clowns and actors,
and by the impresarios who want to hire her as a puppet.
Fando wanders blindfolded in a junkyard until he finds a naked woman. He caresses her body and thinks that he kisses her but in reality it's a cruel joke: he is
kissing a man who silently sneaked between him and her.
They remove his blindfold and everybody laughs at him.
The aristocratic woman tips him to thank him for the entertainment, but Fando throws away the money.
Fando and Lis play like children in a cemetery, pretending to be dead and to be zombies.
Then they continue their journey, Fando pushing the cart on which Lis sits,
until they get stuck inside the walls of
a desolate and arid landscape. A priest who is praying on the cliff above them
shows them the way to climb out. Fando carries Lis in his arms up the path while the
priests laughs out loud.
The priest caresses Lis and then runs to a naked pregnant woman and then
jumps around all happy.
Fando inquires about the way to Tar.
The priest tells him that it is the path to Tar if he believes that it is,
and then shows him a number of dead bodies lying around them.
The dead bodies start moving. Fando carries Lis away and they run into
a group of people bathing and rolling in mud. Lis is disgusted by the smell.
Later they have an argument because Fando tells her to admire the flowers but she sees no flowers (there are none). Fando gets angry and drags her cruelly by the legs until she admits that she sees the flowers.
Nonetheless, Fando loads her onto the car and then abandons her.
Fando climbs a hill and finds three old women who are playing cards
and feeding and kissing a naked man. He flees them when they try to seduce him
but runs into a group of people holding bowling balls. A scantily dressed
African woman whips him and the others throw the balls at him.
He lies unconscious and they drag him to a grave from which his father jumps out
and attacks the group like a zombie. But they welcome him and they all dance away together, leaving Fando in the grave.
Meanwhile, Lis is crying and calling his name.
Fando meets a man who is sadistically cutting a vagina in his old doll and inserting snakes into the hole.
Fando returns to Lis and licks her muddy feet.
Lis doesn't believe him anymore that she will be cured when they reach Tar.
A group of drag queens is passing by: they carry both Fando and Lis with them.
Then one of them strips and dances around Fando.
They strip him naked and then dress him like one of them, like a drag queen,
and make him dance with them.
A flashback shows us Fando and Lis in a room:
Fando paints his name all over Lis' naked body, and they throw paint at each other and all over the walls.
Fando and Lis are again alone in the barren landscape when they meet
a blind man begging not for money but for blood. The old man that leads the
blind man takes a lot of Lis' blood, pours it in a glass and drinks it all,
leaving nothing for the agonizing blind man.
When they leave, Fando sucks more blood from Lis' arm.
Fando meets another disabled woman, and then a woman wearing a bikini who leads him to an ugly old woman: that is his mother. She
who feeds him some disgusting food. A flashback shows him as a
little boy when she was dying. He refused to
kiss her for the last time. She was a celebrity
who turned even her death into a performance for a delirious audience.
His father was being arrested by soldiers. After killing him, they
cut his heart out but what came out was a bird.
Fando now strangles his mother until she dies and then accompanies the dead
woman to her grave and shovels dirt on her.
Fando tries to have sex with Lis but pigs come out of her vagina.
She has flashbacks of when she was raped in the theater as a child.
Fando strips her naked and chains her to the cart.
Three men approach her and starts touching her body until Fando tells them
that she is his girlfriend. Then they leave, afraid, although he still invites
them to stay and enjoy.
The journey resumes, with Fando still pushing Lis' cart,
Lis realizes that they are in the same place where they had started.
Lis cries in vain: the cruel Fando handcuffs her and then forces her to
crawl in the dirt, and kicks her and throws stones at her until she dies.
A half naked man picks up her body with a horse and takes him to a group of
worshippers who have lit dozens of candles in the ground.
They lay Lis' corpse in a casket and then use scissors to cut little pieces
of flesh and eat them (like the host of the Catholic eucharist).
Fando rescues her body and gives her proper burial.
Then he buries himself under vegetation and dreams that they both resurrect
and run naked in the woods.
El Topo/ The Mole (1970) e` un western dell'assurdo, epico e magico,
che ha per protagonista un indomito cavaliere che sacrifica la propria vita nella
lotta contro il male.
La storia e` influenzata dal Buddismo Zen.
Un uomo sul cavallo nel deserto con un bambino nudo. E` vestito di nero e
la faccia e` sempre in ombra. Si ferma, gli consegna
alcuni regali e suona il flauto mentre lui li seppellisce nella sabbia
Poi si rimettono in cammino. Arrivano a un villaggio distrutto. Il minuscolo
rio e` rosso di sangue. Ci sono corpi sventrati dappertutto. Entrano in
una chiesa e trovano decine di impiccati. Chiazze di sangue sulle mura.
Un superstite rantola e lo supplica di ucciderlo.
Tre mattacchioni gli galoppano intorno ridendo come degli ossessi.
Lui continua imperturbabile a passo lento e maestoso.
Si fermano presso un'oasi, lo affrontano... il cavaliere nero e` piu` rapido
ne uccide due e fa confessare al terzo dove si trova il capo dei banditi.
Questi e` uno psicotico che e` piombato su una missione, ha fatto appendere
i frati al muro e ha massacrato i peones. Quattro banditi straccioni
costringono i frati a ballare con loro. Li denudano e li seviziano, mentre
altri ammazzano peones a casaccio.
Lasciano invece in pace una donna, che e` stata prescelta dal capo.
Si prostrano davanti al capo come animali. Il capo concede loro di baciare
la donna, le fa mostrare loro il seno. In quel momento irrompe il cavaliere
nero, che li disarma e libera i frati.
Sfida il capo dei banditi in un duello e lo umilia. I banditi adesso gioiscono
come dei bambini: tengono fermo il loro capo mentre il cavaliere lo castra.
Il capo poi si spara con un fucile.
Gi altri banditi vengono avvolti in sacchi e fucilati dal popolo.
Il cavaliere scaccia il bambino, che trova rifugio presso i frati, e si
rimette in viaggio portando con se` la donna. Si ferma a suonare il flauto
nei pressi di un lago. Poi s'inoltra dinuovo nel deserto.
Lui trova l'acqua in una roccia, ma poi non la trovano piu`.
Quando lei si sta disperando, lui la spoglia violentemente, e finalmente
lei riesce a far sgorgare l'acqua da una roccia.
Lei gli chiede di dimostrargli il suo amore trovando i "master" del deserto.
Ne trovano uno in una torre da cui risuonano canti buddisti,
protetta da uno storpio portato a braccia da uno schiavo.
Il guru e` cieco, immune alle pallottole. Lui, istigato dalla donna, lo sfida.
Vince il duello e uccide il guru epoi deve uccidere tutti i suoi servi,
compreso lo storpio, mentre la donna ride divertita. La donna lo incita a
cercare gli altri tre "master".
Una ragazza, anche lei vestita di nero, gli si presenta e gli offre di
portarlo dal secondo master. Il secondo guru, che ha un leone e una donna
che squittisce come una scimmia, e` piu` veloce
di lui e lo disarma. Gli da` una sonora lezione, ma poi lo bacia sulla bocca.
Gli volta pero` le spalle e il cavaliere nero ne approfitta per ucciderlo.
Le due donne lottano selvaggiamente, ma quella in nero le lecca le ferite e
Il terzo guru vive circondato da conigli, ma le bestie muoiono l'una dopo
l'altra all'arrivo del cavaliere. Il terzo guru non solo e` piu` veloce
ma lo ferisce anche. Il cavaliere riesce comunque a ucciderlo.
L'epopea nel deserto continua, nonostante le tensioni fra le due donne.
Il cavaliere va a sfidare il quarto guru, ma questi rifiuta di usare la pistola
e lo sfida a pugni. Quando lui, disperato, impugna la pistola, scopre che
la rete per le farfalle del guru e` capace di intercettare e rimbalzare le
pallottole. Per convincerlo che la sua missione e` insensata, il guru si
Il cavaliere distrugge la torre nel deserto. La donna lo congratula ma lui la
Attraversa un canyon su un ponte. Gli si para davanti l'altra ragazza che gli
spara. Lui non oppone resistenza. La ragazza lascia scegliere alla sua donna,
e lei spara al cavaliere. Le due donne se ne vanno a cavallo.
Alcuni storpi vengono a raccattare il suo cadavere e a dargli sepoltura.
In una grande caverna vive un guru dalla folta capigliatura bionda
(che potrebbe essere il cavaliere tanti anni dopo).
Una donna gli dice che lo ha accudito fin da quando era bambina e che gli
anziani confidano in lui per "liberarli".
Lo conduce fra la folla che vive in quella caverna.
Si fa radere la testa e promette al suo popolo che fara` scavare un tunnel
e che il tunnel dara` loro la liberta`.
Si fa accompagnare da una nana nella vicina cittadina, dove marchiano gli
schiavi in una specie di stadio sotto gli occhi delle borghesi lussuriose.
I borghesi maschi si contengono invece una ragazza nuda mentre
alcuni uomini vengono sommariamente giustiziati dallo sceriffo.
Per le strade del paese passa una straordinaria processione.
I bambini attorniano il guru che finge di essere un comico e raccoglie
Le anziane e grasse borghesi si fanno curare seminude
da un nero prestante nel suo studio di bellezza. Gli si avventano addosso e
se lo contendono come tigri.
La nana comincia a dubitare che vivere nel mondo sia meglio che vivere nella
caverna, ma il guru comincia a scavare il tunnel.
Un frate, appaena tornato in paese, presenzia a una messa
che culmina con una roulette russa in cui la gente
preme il grilletto e poi grida al miracolo per non essere morta.
Offrono la pistola
anche a lui e il prete gli mormora che la pallottola e` falsa. Lui la
sostituisce con una vera pallottola e passa la pistola in giro finche' uno
Il guru e la nana continuano a esibirsi per qualche spicciolo e a compiere
i lavori piu` umili. Lo ingaggiano in un night club decadente, dove le notte
sono sdraiate nude. Li invitano a spogliarsi e a fare l'amore sotto i loro
Il guru e la nana vanno a trovare il frate e a chiedergli di sposarli.
Ma il frate riconosce nel guru il suo master, tira fuori una rivoltella e
tenta di ucciderlo.
La nana gli fa scudo con il suo corpo e spiega al frate che il guru li sta
aiutando. Il frate si scopre essere il cavaliere.
Il frate-cavaliere concede al guru di vivere fino a quando avra` ultimato il
tunnel. Il guru chiede al cavaliere di aiutarli a scavare cosi` finiranno prima.
Il cavaliere si arrenderebbe, ma il guru persevera e alla fine riesce a
completare l'opera. Il cavaliere non trova la forza di uccidere il suo
Il popolo delle caverne, quasi tutti storpi, puo` finalmente riversarsi nella
pianura, ma i bravi cittadini, e le grasse borghesi in prima fila, li attendono
con i fucili in mano.
Li massacrano senza pieta`, mentre la nana ha le doglie.
Il guru arriva troppo tardi e puo` soltanto straziarsi.
I cittadini lo crivellano di colpi, ma lui continua ad avanzare. Imbraccia
a sua volta un fucile e si mette a sparare all'impazzata. Quelli che scampano
abbandonano il paese.
Poi il guru si da` fuoco. Il cavaliere e la nana s'incamminano a cavallo,
con il neonato.
Film anche troppo palesemente mitologico, straripante di riferimenti biblici,
pecca di voler dire troppo con troppo poco.
Piu` che dal racconto la suggestione viene dai paesaggi metafisici del deserto
(e dal continuo sibilare del vento).
Il pellegrinaggio del cavaliere nero nel deserto assomiglia alle
peregrinazioni dei personaggi di Tarkovsky nella "Zone".
Jodorowsky planned a colossal 10-hour adaptation of Herbert's science-fiction epic "Dune" (1965), but never found a studio willing to fund it, and used the script for a graphic novel, "The Incal" (1988), in collaboration with French comic-book artist Jean Giraud (famous for his "Moebius" character).
Holy Mountain (1973),
centered around the pilgrimage of a mythological Thief who looks a lot like
loosely based on Rene Daumal's novel "Mt Analogue",
is an esoteric parable taunted with sarcastic humor and drenched in a
hallucinated landscape. The component of mystical yearning is underwhelming
if not totally ridiculous; as a universal allegory on the human fate
(coming five years after Kubrick's 2001), the
film fares even worse. It succeeds, instead, as a chaotic surrealist carnival of
madness that weds a Bosch-like medieval hell and
Latin American social documentaries of the time,
Fellini's 8 1/2 and constructivist collage of the 1920s,
Bunuel's Simon of the Desert and Tarkovsky's Stalker,
a psychedelic version of Kubrick's cosmological meditation
a grotesque indictment of Western materialism, consumerism and militarism.
The theme can be summarized as the pilgrimage of a sinner to a destination
that would represent his salvation but actually represents the insignificance
of human life; and the same destiny is amplified in the trek of the nine
to meet nine sages who turn out to be the nine pilgrims themselves (seven of
which represent the legendary vices of humankind).
The first half is hardly spoken, the second half is annoyingly verbose,
although it does mix elements of dadaistic cabaret and
Brecht-ain agitprop theater in an original manner.
Nudity abounds, for reasons that are probably mostly decorative.
Visually, the wildly polychromatic scenography prevails over the poorly scripted
narrative (not to mention the horribly cheesy dialogues).
At its best this film stages a viscerally baroque phantasmagoria that delivers
a visual and semiotic overload.
The vice-ridden city and the shaman-infested landscape that surrounds it
are containers of symbols drawn from Christianity, Buddhism, tarots, Kabalah, etc.
A priest officiates a mass (we hear the murmur of the choir and then the
growling of a Tibetan-like chant). He shaves and undresses two women.
A man, introduced as the Thief,
lies half naked in a pool of urine, his body being chewed by millions of
flies, and guarded by a puma.
A leg-less and arm-less dwarf and a crowd of naked laughing children carry
him away and hang him on a cross;
but he gets down and scares them away like a wild beast.
This long-haired man, vaguely resembling Jesus, and the cripple smoke a joint
Then they enter the city, where some kind of parade is going on.
Soldiers, wearing gas masks, execute prisoners, young men and women.
The aristocracy kneels in front of a religious procession that carries
skinned lambs instead of flags.
The firing squad shoots the dead men and a crowd surrounds them.
Birds fly out of a dead man's chest.
One of the soldiers rapes a well-dressed woman who doesn't seem to mind.
A bizarrely-dressed tourist (possibly her husband)
films the rape and asks the Thief to film him
as he hugs the rapist and the woman, the couple behaving as if they were
attending a folkloristic show during an exotic holiday.
In the main square a medieval-like show is being enacted in a miniature
city of Mayan pyramids: "The Conquest of Mexico", with
toads playing the role of armored Spanish soldiers.
The Thief quacks. An explosion destroys the set.
The Thief quacks arond the ruins.
A nun directs fat Roman centurions (who are eating the internal organs of a
bull, one of them even sitting inside the hull of the bull) to escort the
Thief carrying the cross while the foreign tourist films the scene.
Instead of killing the Thief, they force him to drink until he
They lie him down unconscious in the position of a crucified person
and the nun spreads some pig fluid on him. They use his body to make a cast
from which they produce hundreds of identical naked Jesus-like mannequins.
When the Thief wakes up and finds himself
surroundewd by hundreds of "clones", he beats up the centurions and went on
a rampage destroying as many of the mannequins as he can, and eventually
carrying one away.
A group of prostitutes wearing revealing miniskirts starts following the still
naked Thief (who is still carrying a naked mannequin) and the Dwarf.
One of the prostitutes has washed the Thief's feet and has a chimp who frolics
around her like a child.
Men dance with the soldiers of the firing squad.
In a church a priest, who also speaks only in animal growls, gives him a real
The Thief hangs it to balloons that fly away.
The Thief, the Prostitute and the chimp reach a place where townfolks are
assembled around a giant orange tower. Someone at the top lowers a piece of
gold. The Thief immediately grabs the rope and uses it to climb up the tower.
He finds a large hole protected by a white diaphragm. He
jumps through the white membrane and finds a temple of sorts in which a
man dressed in white (the Alchemist of the first scene) is flanked by two goats.
The Alchemist moves like a robot.
The Thief attacks him with a knife but the Alchemist easily repels his attack
with judo-like moves.
The Alchemist then hypnotizes the Thief and his robot-like black servant,
a Nubian-looking woman whose body is covered with Jewish symbols,
the Written Woman,
cuts a tumor from his neck while he is unconscious.
The Alchemist wakes up the Thief and ironically offers him gold, which the
Thief is eager to obtain. Instead the Alchemist and his assistant
wash him in a pool (where a hippo is also bathing) and gives him a gift:
trapped in a glass enclosure, while the Written Woman plays the cello,
the Thief is subjected to some kind of alchemical ritual whose result is
a giant mirror. The Thief, now fully covered in a black cape,
smashes the mirror.
Also dressed in black and acting as his mirror image,
the Alchemist helps the Thief crack a stone that contains a soul in the
form of a crystal ball.
The world spins around a tantric symbol.
The Alchemist leads the Thief into
a round room whose walls are covered with large childish paintings of the
12 Tarot cards.
The music changes to Indian.
The Thief doesn't even look while the priest places objects around him,
including a crusaders' sword, each symbolizing a virtue.
The robotic Written Woman brings a bull.
The paintings are suddenly replaced by seven statues of naked peopole,
each representing a planet and a vice. The Alchemist calls them the most
powerful thieves in the world. They are all selfish greedy disreputable
capitalists and the film introduces
them one by one in orgiastic and parodistic settings.
The one from Venus made money in the textile industry.
His father is blind, deaf and mute, and is always accompanied by the mummified
body of his dead wife, escorted by young sexy nurses in miniskirts.
Venus has hundreds of wives, all dressed identical. His factory makes
plastic clothes and masks.
The one from Mars sells weapons. She (dressed like a man) has an army of
drag queens (men dressed like women).
His company experiments with drugs that incite peaceful people to violence.
Jupiter makes artistic objects, helped by his sexy lover and assistant. He
created an erotic machine, a giant vagina that can reach the orgasm if
excited with a giant plastic phallus.
His lover succeeds where his chaffeur has failed.
The orgasm makes the machine give birth to a wailing baby machine.
A silent scene shows the generals welcoming a female clown, Saturn, who changes
clothes and removes the make-up to reveal a stern female businesswoman who is
escorted to visit her factory.
A computer is used to determine what toys to make in order to instill
hatred into children. The workers of her factory are all elderly men.
Uranus is a lazy effeminate boy cuddled by his
old fat mother. Despite their depraved private life, the pair turn themselves
into a sort of queen and a distinguished
economic advisor when they meet with the president of their country.
The advisor proudly suggests to kill 4 million citizens within 5 years.
Neptune is a police chief, who collects testicles for an odd esoteric ritual.
We see images of police massacres after which police officers disembowel the
cadavers and find all sorts of objects and animals inside their bellies.
Pluto is an architect,
haunted in his maze by children wearing Mickey Mouse masks.
This long parenthesis is interrupted by
a helicopter, hovering over the giant orange tower.
The Alchemist gathers the seven capitalists, the Thief and the Written Woman
for a lecture (including slide presentation)
on the nine immortals who live on top of the holy mountain.
The priest claims to know how to steal from them the secret of immortality.
The seven capitalists burn all their money in a pit prepared by the priest
(the Thief tries to keep a couple of banknotes but is derided by everybody
The priest leads their long trek to the holy mountain through
pompous mystical declarations and obscure rituals of union with nature.
The event that stands out is when a shaman announces that one of them
has drowned. Each takes turn at looking inside a
pot full of water and each sees himself/herself reflected in the water.
Nonetheless this abstract drowned being is buried in a hole in the ground
with accompaniment of a fanfare.
The chimp and the Prostitute are among the mourners.
Finally they reach a wharf, and a group of children and women run screaming
They board a boat and start paddling across the lake.
The Thief is instructed to throw his crippled friend in the water to prove
it is just an hallucination, and we see him mimicking the act of throwing someone into the ocean but there is nobody in his hands.
They are welcomed to a town's party, being held at the "Pantheon Bar" that
has a copy of Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker",
replete with a
circus of psychedelic and supernatural performers.
Chained to each other, dressed in blue suits, and holding a tiger on leash,
they advance through a lush landscape. The group seems to be affected by
nightmares: one of the women drowns in sperm, one of the men succumbs to
a slot machine endlessly spitting coins, another one is covered in tarantulas,
another one drinks from the cheetah-shaped nipples of an aging hermaphrodite,
Finally they are approaching the top of the mountain, and the Alchemist declares
that his mission is over and instructs them to behead him
with a giant sword... but his head turns into a lamb and he laughs at the
executioner. The chimp and the Prostitute have followed them up the mountain
and the Alchemist instructs the Thief marry the Prostitute.
No longer chained, the blue men reach a white table around which are white
cloaked figures only one of which is a man: the Alchemist himself.
The camera zooms back and reveals the setting of the film.
The Alchemist is the filmmaker himself.
The actors leave the set and return to real life.
(See also this article that has a lot more details and may correct some mistakes of mine)
The mediocre (and later disowned)
Poo Lorn L'Elephant/ Tusk (1980) is
based on Reginald Campbell's novel "Poo Lorn L'Elephant" (1935).
Santa Sangre/ Holy Blood (1989) regresses to the meaningless chaos of
Fando y Lis. There is little temporal or rational continuity in the
scenes, so it feels more like a series of stories with the same protagonists
than a unified film.
Eventually this becomes a psychological crime thriller which evokes
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, just a very convoluted one.
A naked young man sits on a tree in a corner of a large room, like a bird of prey.
A doctor and a nurse walk in, bringing him food.
He is particularly fond of the fish which he eats like a bird would.
He wears the tattoo of a phoenix on his chest.
A flashback shows us
Fenix as a childhood performing in a circus and befriending the midget Aladin.
A tattooed woman forces a mute girl to walk on a tightrope suspended over flames.
Then she sees Orgo, Fenix's fat and alcoholic father, and begs Orgo to perform his act: she stands against
a board and Orgo throws knives that comes close to her body, an experience
that causes her an orgasm, with a peak when a knife hits just below her
Fenix the child instead makes the girl smile.
A large group of faithfuls dressed in red, led by Fenix's mother Concha, is protecting the Santa Sangre church from demolition.
A priest arrives and is shocked to see that they worship a little girl who is not an official saint of the Church and baptize novices in a
pool of red paint that is meant to represent "holy blood".
A little girl, Lirio, was raped there, and both her arms were cut off.
The priest walks away and orders the demolition crew to proceed.
Concha, Fenix, Aladin the midget and two clowns walk back to the circus,
and find Orgo flirting with the tattooed woman. Concha threatens her with
a knife but Orgo hypnotizes Concha and then carries her near the cage of the
tiger to have sex (she on top).
Felix watches them briefly but then is distracted by the blood pouring out
of his favorite elephant, which is dying.
After a pompous funeral, the giant casket is dropped unceremoniously into
a dump and the population joyously wrecks the casket and dismembers the
Back home, Orgo tattoos a phoenix on Felix' chest while the child screams and cries.
Then Orgo tells him that now he's a man.
That night Fenix the child performs his magic tricks assisted by Aladin.
Concha emerges from his magic trunk and begins her trapeze act.
But her smile freezes when she sees Orgo flirting again with the tattooed woman.
She screams to let her down and leaves the stage, indifferent to the audience.
She locks Fenix in their trailer and looks for Orgo. She waits until he strips
naked and then pours acid onto his genitals. Orgo
cuts off both her arms. He then walks out in pain and slits his own throat.
Fenix watches powerless from the window of the trailer.
The tattoed woman grabs Alma and drives away.
Back to the present, Fenix is being escorted by the doctor and the nurse to meet a group of sweet mentally handicapped men who then caress him gently.
The doctors drop the group to a movie theater. When they are going in,
a young man with a boombox, offers them cocaine, hijacks them and takes them to an alley of prostitutes.
He delivers them to Lores, a fat prostitute and collects money from them to pay
for them to have group sex with Lores.
Fenix initially follows them like a zombie but then sees the pimp dance with a prostitute that he recognizes as the tattooed woman.
He gets angry. But the film doesn't show us what happens next.
The doctor, the nurse and the mentally handicapped men wakes him up in his room.
His arm-less mother Concha calls him from the street.
Fenix drops a rope and climbs down the building to the street.
They walk away silently.
Two drunk soldiers, one a giant, and a drunk cop pay the pimp to sleep with the tattooed woman.
She takes them into her room and then, for extra money, shows the big soldier a sleeping Alma in the next room.
The giant takes Alma into his arms but she wakes up and fights him off.
Alma, now a young woman, wearing only a pajama, jumps out of the window into the street where a
decadent crowd is dancing at loud party music.
She stops in front of a man wearing a suit and tie, who tears his own ear off
and tries to feed it to her.
She covers herself with a blanket found in a garbage can and sleeps on the roof of a truck.
The drunk customers leave the tattooed woman's house.
Then someone (not shown) enters her room and stabs her brutally to death.
Alma wakes up in the morning and walks back home through streets littered
with skeletons, and finds the lifeless body of her mother in a pool of blood.
Fenix, now a gentleman wearing a tuxedo, meets the midget who is shining shoes
in the street and takes him into a theater. Concha sings a song on stage
and Fenix, hiding behind her, moves his arms to give the illusion that they are
Later backstage Concha tells Fenix that his hands plus her body can perform a sensational act, and now she has arms.
The next act is a woman who performs a strip-tease as "Rubi the Virgin".
Backstage, Fenix and this woman reenact the act of her father and the tattooed woman: he hypnotizes her, he
ties her to a board, and then he throw knives at her. The last one is meant to
go under her vagina. Her mother sees him and mentally orders his arms to kill the woman, so the last one hits the woman in the chest.
Fenix buries the dead woman in a grave, climbs into the grave and paints her body paint. A white bird flies out of the grave.
Concha teaches Fenix to play the piano. When he succeeds, she kisses him like a lover.
Then we see Fenix watching on television
James Whale's film The Invisible Man (1933), and dressed exactly like the
invisible man, and trying a potion prepared by Aladin.
Failing to disappear, he gets angry.
Concha calls him: she needs his arms to sew socks for Santa Lirio.
Fenix buys chemicals from a shop whose female clerk is clearly in love with him
and would love to attend his experiments.
As he is walking out, a giant snake emerges from his coat.... but it's only
Meanwhile, Alma is wandering around town and sees a poster that advertises the new show
of Concha with her "magic hands".
Fenix, dressed like a gentleman in a tuxedo, attends a wrestling match
Fenix walks backstage and offers a rose to a female wrestler (who has big breasts).
They walk into a theater and Fenic performs a magical trick involving a mummy
while the female wrestler sits in the audience. The mummy turns into his
arm-less mother Concha. Concha takes control of his mind and orders him to
kill the wrestler. He tries to resist but then attacks her like a wild beast
and kills her with a sword while Aladin keeps playing a melody on the harmonium.
Fenix dreams that ghosts of women, all of them wearing a white veil, emerge from their graves, and he asks them to forgive him (presumably all the women whom he has killed).
Meanwhile, Alma discovers a place with Lirio's mannequin and finds someone
in Concha's bed who doesn't wake up.
When he wakes up, he sees her, dressed in black and with her face painted white.
She doesn't speak but he understands that she wants to take him away.
Concha, however, arrives and uses her mental power to force Fenix to grab
two knives and kill Alma. He struggles in vain: he can't resist his mother's
mental power. Luckily, the chemical shop's clerk arrives just then, carrying
flowers for a romantic date. She screams and this stops Fenix.
While the clerk runs to a phone booth to call for help, Concha forces again Fenix to move towards Alma with the knives. Alma doesn't try to save herself.
At the last second Fenix finds the
strength to rebel and stabs his mother instead of Alma.
His mother disappears laughing, next to Lirio's mannequin.
Fenix cries, consoled by a clown and by the mute Alma.
A flashback shows that Concha died after Orgo cut off her arms.
They show him that there's an arm-less mannequin sleeping in Concha's bed (that's why Concha didn't wake up when Alma walked in).
We see a flashback in which Fenix performs with Concha, but this time Concha
is just a mannequin without arms.
Alma and clowns help Fenix throw out the mannequin.
He then also destroys the mannequin of Saint Lirio.
Alma sets fire to both mannequins that lie next to each other.
Fenix kisses goodbye to Aladin who too disappears: another figment of his
Alma leads Fenix outside: the house is surrounded by the police (the murders
were not a figment of his imagination).
His British film The Rainbow Thief (1990) was a mainstream production
that starred Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, the stars of the colossal Lawrence of Arabia. The director later disowned it.
He also published books on an occult therapeutic self-healing theory: "Psychomagic" (1995), "The Way of Tarot" (2004) and "The Manual of Psychomagic" (2009).
In 1998 he launched the comic book
"The Technopriests", in collaboration with illustrators Zoran Janjetov and Fred Beltran, that lasted until 2006.
Meanwhile he worked on several other comics, notably
"Le Cour Couronne'/ The Crowned Heart (2001), another collaboration with Jean Giraud.
The lengthy La Danza de la Realidad/ Dance of Reality (2013), the first
film in 22 years, is Jodorowski's autobiographical testament,
the serious, pensive equivalent of Federico Fellini's Amacord, littered with
Tod Browning's Browning's cripples,
but actually more similar to
historical frescoes, recreations of Ulysses' journey,
a complex maze of personal mythology with a powerful ending
that buries the whole story into layers of symbols.
The story is narrated by an old melancholy man dressed in black.
The films opens with the image of the entrance of a circus.
Then we see poor people marching in a wasteland, holding umbrellas.
A young, effeminate, long-haired teenager, Alejandro, lives in the circus.
Clowns perform in the circus where the audience is masked.
He runs to the beach and throws stones at the giant waves to prove that he is not a faggot. Lots of fish die, birds attack him.
The kid runs to the old man (presumably the same person many decades later), who hugs him.
People cheer that there are so many dead fish on the beach.
The kid's father pees on a radio (placed in the toilet) until it breaks.
The kid tries to comfort a crippled miner, who lost his hands in an accident,
but his father attacks the cripple and kicks him away.
His mother sings her own story like an opera soprano.
Her father died tragically and she got pregnant right afterwards, therefore
she believes that Alejandro is the reincarnation of her father.
Outside a dwarf is whipping a bag on the floor. His father is attacked by
a mob of cripples.
Alejandro's father is a brute who is fed up with the kid's effeminate manners,
his wife's delusional imagination and the cripples of the town.
He drags the kid to the barber shop to cut his hair... but the barber simply
pulls out the blonde wig that is on the kid's head, and then the wig dissolves
in the hand of the barber.
The mother (who always sings her lines) is heartbroken and now rejects the kid.
Outside the dwarf is knifing a puppet.
His father tickles his feet with a feather and demands that he doesn't laugh;
and then he wants the kid to withstand pain.
Meanwhile all the cripples get arrested by the police and loaded on a truck.
The father even challenges his son to get a dentist's operation without
The father is now proud of his son.
A half-naked Buddhist confronts the kid at the beach, a well-known madman,
Theosophist, who takes him to see the cable cars that carry precious minerals,
and compares them to the bodies that carry souls.
The madman gives him religious medals.
Her mother runs a shop of women's underwear (with a giant portrait of Stalin
on the wall) and his father is turned on by
the perfume. He takes her from behid in the shop and the kid arrives just then.
At home the father confiscates the medals and throws them into the toilet
repeating to the kid that God does not exist.
At night the kid hears that his father is leaving the house and follows him
to a place where people have fun. He meets the
fat prostitute Rosita, who is in love with him.
The father then walks into a meeting of communists and homosexuals, who
treat him like a boss. He asks everybody to destroy their identity
documents, and tells them not to call him Jodorowski.
His father is also a member of the fire brigade and decides that his son
has to become their mascot. The kid is not happy but then his father lets
him have bright red shooes that make him very happy.
The kid donates the shoes to a poor shoe-shiner child, Carlito,
who doesn't have shoes. His father gets angry and demands that he gets
his shoes back. But Carlito has drowned after slipping down from the cliff
of the beach, and that was because of the red shoes.
The schoolchildren briefly mourn the dead child, then they grab cobs that
look like penises and pretend to masturbate. The kid is desperate and
tries to jump from the cliff, but the old narrator stops him and talks
about the distant future, when they both will be just memories, non real.
The fire brigade is summoned to put off a fire. His father runs to the
fire truck. The kid runs after him and insists on joining the rescue
operation. When the fire subsides, they realize that one fireman is
missing and they find his carbonized body in the ruins of the house.
The father forces the kid to look at the disgusting flesh.
At night the firemen hold a funeral procession. The audience is wearing
skull masks. The kid has a nightmare: he imagines being inside the casket
with the decomposing corpse. His father is embarrassed that he ruined the
procession and the following morning, when the kid wakes up,
calls him a coward and burns the mascot's uniform.
The father fears that the other firemen will think that the father is a coward too.
The people hiding under umbrellas of the second scene appear descending
the mountain behind the village. The mayor is informed that these are
people infected with the plague and orders the evacuation of the
village. Panic spreads in town. The police sets up barriers to keep
the nomads out of town. They demand water but nobody has the guts to
carry water to them. The father volunteers in order to prove how
courageous he is. He drives his his donkey cart into the crowd and
delivers the water.
But the crowd behaves like animals: they slaughter his donkeys and
eat the flesh.
The father walks home infected with the plague.
The authorities wants to burn down the whole house in order to avoid that
the sick man spreads the infection.
The singing wife prays God and urinates on him and heals him.
The moment he regains his wits the father, cheered by his communist comrades, decides to to assassinate the dictator.
A fellow communist demands the honor and the father hands him the gun.
The plan is to shoot the dictator at a gun show.
When the dictator arrives, and the nuns intone the national anthem,
the fellow communist faces the dictator
and pulls the trigger but the gun fails.
The father jumps in front of the fellow communist and pretends to save the
life of the dictator, who has not moved one step.
The fellow communist commits suicide and the father is hired by the
dictator to work in his stables.
He is taking the job of an old man who is about to die.
One night the father digs the grave for the old man, who then walks into
it and lies down and asks the father to start pouring in the dirt.
The father tricks the dictator into the stables and then pulls out the gun,
but at that point his hands become paralyzed.
The dictator doesn't realize what has happened and gives the father a lot
of money but the dictator, still stunned by the miracle,
lets all the banknotes fly away in the sky.
Meanwhile, the kid wakes up after another nightmare (told by the old
narrator who appears behind the bed)
The singing mother paints his face black so that he can hide in the dark.
She gets naked and plays "hide and seek" with her, and then they dance together.
In the street the kid meets Lucho, the twin brother of Carlito, who accuses
the kid of being responsible for Carlito's death.
Lucho is a shoe-shiner too. The kid follows him in a bar where the adults
force them to fight. They hold the kid and let Lucho punch him in the face.
The kid walks home bleeding. Later she walks naked into the same bar and
walks around the patrons who can't see her.
The following morning she takes the kid to the beach. She is convinced that
the father is not dead. The half-naked madman gives them balloons.
She ties a stone to the balloons and releases it in the air, sure that the
balloons will find the father. They do: the stone drops on the roof of the house
where the father lives with another woman, his hands still paralyzed.
The noise wakes him up. He can't remember where he is and why he is there.
He lvies in a very poor shack. When he walks outside, he is attacked by
a pack of dogs.
The poor woman is desperate: she found him wandering in the street and she
took him for her husband and was happy to finally have a husband in her
But she knew that some day he would regain his memory and leave her,
and wrote him a heartbreaking letter.
She hangs herself. The other people of the slum call him "murderer".
He starts walking towards home. He begs a priest for help but the priest only
gives his a tarantula. He tries to steal food from schoolgirls but his hands
are paralyzed and they beat him up.
He sleeps in the streets. He begs a good old carpenter for work and becomes his
apprentice, despite his hands being paralyzed.
They happily work together and the old carpenter gives him
all the money he can. They make chairs as a gift to a church and join
the mass in the church.
They all jump together 26 times to thank God and the carpenter dies of
a heart attack. The priest interprets it as the most beautiful death,
and then proceeds to collect money from the faithful while the dead
carpenter still lies on the floor. The father donates all the money
that he received from the old carpenter and walks out of the church,
his hands still paralyzed. Outside he joins a group of nazists but
he cannot extend the hand because it is paralyzed. The nazist commander
thinks that he wants to make fun of them and orders the others to beat
him up. The father is surrounded but manages to beat them up and forces
them to bless the name of the carpenter.
However, he is arrested and taken to a room where men dressed
in suit and tie like businessmen torture him with electricity, shit and
water. They want to know who is the person that he worships, and the
father keeps giving senseless answers: your brother, your father, your son, you.
They think he is protecting a communist.
Eventually, he is abandoned naked in a room:
the communist rebels have conquered the building.
The dictator fled the country. The father finally remembers his family
and is dispatched back to his village in an ambulance.
He cries in front of his wife and son after showing them his paralyzed
hands that could not kill the dictator, proof that he himself is a coward.
The wife puts giant portraits of the dictator and of Stalin next to each
other and sings to him that
the dictator, Stalin and him shared the life of a tyrant. He screams
in pain, and cries like a repenting sinner. She hands him a gun and he
points it at the two portraits. He shoots at his own portrait standing
on top of the other two, and all portraits catch fire. His hands are healed.
Later an older, gray-haired father and his family are shown on a ship.
The child, dressed in a communist uniform, marches on the pier amid a gallery
of mannequins representing all the characters of the film.
The child between his parents on the ship is watching himself on the pier
amid the mannequins as the ship sails away. Then suddenly the child is
in the arms of the old narrator and the big ship has turned into a small
motorboat that is rocking in the vast sea, with a skeleton hanging next
to the narrator. And then the child disappears and there is only the old
narrator meditating on the human condition, that only the wind remains,
the wind that also propels the boat away.
Poesia sin Fin/ Endless Poetry (2016) continues his autobiography
Dance of Reality. It is now about his adolescence
in Chile during the 1940s and 1950s.
Jodorowsky appears in person in the film, while his younger self is played
by his sons. At times he is on screen with his younger self, notably in the
heartbreaking scene where he encourages his younger self to hug his father because he knows (now he knows) that he will never see him again.
The first 30 minutes are a virtuoso show of hyper-Brechtian tricks to jumpstart
the narrative. The ending is both moving and philosophical like in
Theodoros Angelopulos' films. In between, however,
there are too many lengthy scenes that are mostly content with showing a
tableaux, and not always a very original one. The self-portrait is nonetheless
powerful and profound, but it feels a bit overlong.
The child Alejandro, his mother Sara and his father Jaime are leaving town.
His mother sings like an opera singer as she bids farewell to their mountain village.
The child walks among cardboard figures like in the closing scenes of the previous film.
The family boards a ferry, the beginning of their trip to the capital city.
The director himself appears,
describing his arrival in the city many years earlier.
We see masked men of the staff pull the mechanisms that cover the facades
of today's buildings with pictures of the facades of the 1940s.
Then some other members of the crew carry a cardboard train along the main street where many people are lining up.
A man gets brutally murdered in the street and
children rob the dead body of everything.
A teenager (played by the director's younger son) walks amid the crowd into his father's shop, which is guarded by a dwarf dressed like Hitler.
Alejandro is late and it's a busy day.
His father Jaime forces him to kick a thief. His father then
strips naked a female thief outside in front of a crowd while
a giant cop stares silently.
His mother sings in the operatic voice that
she is disappointed that her husband never changed and remains a heartless
Granma comes for tea.
It is the anniversary of her son Jose's death. He died because of a cake,
and Sara just baked a cake for her.
Granma cries and delves her face into the cake.
Alejandro steals a poetry book by Garcia Lorca, but his
father gets angry when he finds him reading poetry, throws the book away and tells him to study medicine instead.
Granma brings a violin in a small coffin as a gift for Alejandro.
Children see him walking in the streek with the coffin and call him a
gravedigger. He throws the violin in a garbage can.
An old drunk tells Alejandro that a naked virgin will lighten his path with a butterfly,
and we see today's Alejandro (old Alejandro) next to the young Alejandro discussing the epochal encounter.
His father closes his shop and walks home defending his money with a loaded gun.
Alejandro tries to write poems but is haunted by his
father's scornful words for poetry.
Alejandro hides the typewriter under his bed.
His mother bakes another cake for granma.
His father counts the money (we see a man in black pushing the table behind the actors) when an earthquake strikes.
Alejandro is terrified but father forces him to stand up and not panic like everybody else.
Jaime, Sara and Alejandro visits Alejandro's obnoxious uncle Isidoro,
who always makes fun of Alejandro. Sara has baked the cake for her mother
but Isidoro's wife throws it in the garbage because it has too much sugar
for their diabetic mother. The adults play poker for money.
Alejandro, angry at the family, chops down a tree and flees.
His cousin Ricardo runs after him and congratulates him for the rebellious act.
Ricardo takes him to sisters Carmen and Veronica who love artists.
They let him stay so he can write in peace.
Ricardo asks him if he is still a virgin. Ricardo confesses that he is gay
and is in love with him. Alejandro rejects him and
Ricardo bids farewell from him. Alejandro allows him to kiss him once.
Years later Alejandro (now played by the director's older son) is still living in the house.
The sisters introduce him to the dancers Cana and Gordo, to the tenor Alberto, to the pianist Gustavo
(who destroys his piano and plays it like a percussion instrument) and to the
painter Hugo (who throws color on vertical wall-size canvases and on himself).
Alejandro stages a puppet show about his favorite poet, Nicanor Parra.
One of the sisters sends him to Cafe Iris where poets and muses meet every night.
The waiters are all old, dressed in black tuxedoes and walk slowly.
A fat red-haired woman, Stella, enters and shouts at everybody in an arrogant tone. A man whispers in her ear and she unveils her breast,
but when he tries to touch it she punches him in the face.
Then she walks out disgusted by the crowd.
Alejandro, fascinated, follows her and asks to read her poems.
She instead asks to see his penis.
She likes that he's still a virgin.
He thinks that she is the woman foreseen by the old drunk.
While she is biting his ear in the street, a madman shows up with a giant artificial penis.
Back at the cafe he gets drunk waiting in vain for her.
She finally walks in with another man.
The man is Nicanor Parra and tells him that Stella is the one how inspired his famous poem "Viper".
Parra walks out and Stella hugs Ale.
She cuts an "A" on the back of her hand. He sucks the blood.
She too is still a virgin.
She takes him to a decaying retirement home, where they make love.
At home his mother is worried. His father cries.
Alejandro walks inside while they are sleeping and steals money for Stella.
The cafe is closed because one of the waiters died, so Stella drags him
to the Mute Parrot, where a dangerous crowd assembles.
Alejandro recites his poetry and everybody laughs.
They pull his pants down and are ready to sodomize him when
Stella causes a riot and the two manage to escape.
Walking home, they find Ricardo that hanged himself from a lamppost.
They part for 40 days. He kills the time making puppets at the house of the sisters.
When they meet again, she has cut her hair.
He returns to making puppets. A blonde French customer, Luz, buys a puppet that looks like her and one that looks like her old lover
Andre, a painter (played by the poet Adonis).
Alejandro follows her to the man's studio where he witnesses them parting ways
(in French) as he leaves for France.
We hear their voices but they are actually not speaking.
Andre' gifts the studio to Alejandro and Alejandro uses it to organize big parties for artists.
One night a fellow poet, Enrique, recites a poem on stage.
Alejandro tracks him down in a nice mansion.
His parents are listening to a radio broadcast about the Cold War (it is now 1948).
Alejandro and Enrique decide to walk in a straight line through the city,
which implies walking over a truck and through an old lady's house,
until they are attacked by dogs in a parking lot.
They insult the audience during an academic performance.
They stage a performance in front of Pablo Neruda's statue.
These pranks create a bond of friendship.
A Northamerican (choreographer Carolyn Carlson) dances around a naked man lying on her bed. Alejandro watches seating on a chair.
Old (today's) Alejandro and young Alejandro discuss his fear of living.
Alejandro saves Enrique's girlfriend, a midget, who tries to kill herself
with gas (but she told Alejandro's landlady that she was going to kill herself,
so that she probably counted on his to save her).
Enrique left her because he wants a taller girlfriend.
He takes her to a bridge and lifts her over the water.
She screams, proving that she doesn't want to die.
They have sex while a drunk Enrique is knocking frantically at her door.
The midget is treated with electrical shocks at the hospital.
because she wants to forget Enrique at all costs.
But the treatment fails as she still invokes his name.
She drinks to forget at the cafe. A male midget offers her his love.
At a park Alejandro is approached by an old man who notices his clown's shoes.
The old man is Carrot, an old clown, who used to work in the circus with Alejandro's father.
Alejandro then joins the circus.
He tells the audience that he wants to die
and invites he audience to laugh at the tragedy of his life.
Then he removes his clown clothes and, naked, announces that he is a poet.
Alejandro visits a suicidal Enrique with the midgets.
Pequenita is pregnant and she claims that the child is Enrique's because she was thinking of him when she made love to Alejandro.
The male midget threatens to kill himself if she doesn't love him,
and slaps Enrique and then kisses him. Enrique slaps and kisses Ale.
Enrique and Alejandro are friends again.
In the middle of this scene Jaime and Sara show up in pajamas to tell Alejandro
that their house burned down.
His father is desperate that the money burned down with it.
When the parents leave, Alejandro celebrates.
He then leads his friends on a bike ride to the burned house.
He walks among the ruins and bids goodbye to the objects of his childhood.
Enrique consoles him and a carnival dance begins with thousands of men dressed like either devils or skeletons and Alejandro
dressed like an angel.
He walks away from the crowd and stares at himself in the mirror and talks to himself in the voice of his youth responding with the voice of his old age,
trying to decide what he wants to be.
Eventually he breaks the mirror.
Old Alejandro sits next to him, leaning on a cane.
Alejandro visits the poet Parra, who is now teaching at an engineering school,
and asks him for advice. Parra sides with his father and advises him to get
a real job, but Alejandro rejects his advice.
The cardboard train brings the visit of a dictator welcomed by a crowd
waving Nazist flags.
Alejandro tries to stop the dictator who is riding on a horse into town followed by a crowd of zombies but they don't even see him.
Alejandro decides to leave for Paris and join Breton's group of surrealists.
Alejandro and Enrique part. Alejandro only has a small suitcase as he walks
towards the ferry.
We hear the foghorn of the ship but there is no ship.
His father stops him and threatens violence if Alejandro doesn't go back to
working at the shop.
They fight. Alejandro kicks his father viciously while he is
still lying on the ground.
His father, defeated, begs him to shake his hand, crying.
Old Alejandro appears between them and forces them to hug for real,
because he knows that they will never meet again.
Old Alejandro hands young Alejandro a razor and young Alejandro shaves Jaime's head to allegorically remove his mask.
Now they can kiss and young Alejandro can say "thank you" and Jaime can bless him.
His mother sings her own melancholy goodbye.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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