Chilean cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is all the rage now that a new generation of filmgoers have come to know a bit about his unique vision through the recently released documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. For the newly initiated and those that are feeling the urge to revisit his trippy work, Remezcla summons its inner-shamans, Jodorowsky-style, to guide you through his wild rides and surreal visions, listed here in chrono order. Hold onto to your spinning head, secure your freak flags, and get ready to journey to the far-out visions of this fantastical filmmaker.
Fando y Lis
Jodorowsky burst on to the scene, literally, with his first film, Fando & Lis, when an outraged riot erupted at its first screening in Acapulco. Excellent press strategy, as his long career proves. Drawing heavy on surrealist film and Buñuelian influence, the film follows the story of paraplegic Fando and her partner Lis, who set out on a journey to the mythic Tar. As they witness wild happenings along their way, the film stylistically routes through groovy Pop Art and 60s performance practices. It’s all shot in gorgeous black-and-white by d.p. and experimental filmmaker in his own right Rafael Corkidi,and reflects Jodorowsky’s roots in the absurdist theater movement Pánico, and even mime (get ready for some Marcel Marceau-inspired throwdowns).
Known as an “acid Western,” El Topo does feel like a tripped up Spaghetti Western doused with Latin American spice (along with some hits of acid). Lone rider and classic man in big hat El Topo, along with his naked child (played by Jodorowsky and his son), set out on horseback for a long journey across the desert. The journey’s purpose is oblique but the intense imagery, including Jodorowsky’s recurring inclusion of limbless or otherwise physically challenged individuals, will send your mind buzzing for symbolic meaning and dramatic interpretation. But bear in mind Jodorowsky’s own words, “Life can be comic, can be sexy, can be everything at the same time. So I will make a picture but I will not say what you need to feel. You will feel whatever you’re feeling…”
La montaña sagrada
After John Lennon raved about El Topo, Jodorowsky managed to secure a million bucks to make The Holy Mountain. (Still wowing major musicians, Kanye West gave props to Jodorowsky and The Holy Mountain for inspiring his Yeezus tour). And for good reason: The Holy Mountain is the absolute summit of Jodorowsky’s trippy artistry. This film is so warped, so utterly unique in imagery that will burn itself forever onto your retina, that it should come with a black label warning. It is also, in the midst of its own intense visions of flayed men, bulldozed colonial architecture, and shamanic services, a fierce critique of Western cultural dominance in Latin America. If you like to see imperialist notions speared and shot through with hallucinatory flair, you’ve come to the right place.
Imagine a colorized mashup of Todd Browning’s classic Freaks, Hitchcock’s Psycho, and a litany of Fellini’s circus-inspired scenes from various films, but push through, and you’ll have a filmically-influenced yet completely unique cinematic universe in Santa Sangre. Jodorowsky tells the warped Freudian tale of extreme filial devotion as a son grows up to literally do everything for his armless mother. Not a wild enough sounding story for you? Don’t worry, you’ll get the full, gory, Freudian/mythic back story of how his mother became armless and if you still yearn for more bizarreness, bonus, it’s all set amongst circus performers. Trust me, you and your desires for the disturbing will be waited on, hand and foot…er, maybe just foot.
Admitting that he wanted to take the hallucinatory experience of an LSD trip and replicate its intense visionary experience for the non-acid dropping filmgoer, Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky recounts his experience trying to make a filmic adaptation of the classic sci-fi book Dune. At the height of his renown in the mid 70s, Jodorowsky took on a big budget and big challenges to shoot the story, but in the classic more is not always better lesson (shocker: yeah, even with Jodorowsky!), the project became mythic but never concrete. The film documents the fascinating, legend-inspiring what-if’s of whether Jodorowsky could have actually realized Dune with stars such as Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Orson Welles and countless amazing graphic artists. But more importantly, it’s a fascinating chance to listen to Jodorowsky speak in his own, utterly mind-opening and spellbinding words and to see the wizard behind the curtain. A more lucidly-compelling, messed-up master there never was.