ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY COLLECTION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 30TH
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the few truly unique figures in moviemaking. His early work such as Fando y Lis and El Topo caused a massive stir when they came out back in the ‘70s and continue to influence filmmakers to this day. This collection brings together his most important works, accompanied with appropriate commentary and documentaries.
El Topo is the most famous work mostly because of its surreal and striking imagery. This is, after all, a movie where a man duels a naked cowboy. In theory, it’s the tale of a gunfighter who is on a search for spiritual and sexual self-discovery. He wanders the desert challenging masters of the art of gun-fighting until the inevitable consequences of his actions catch up with him. On the way, Jodorowsky’s striking cinematography and surreal direction carry the story forward. Like all of these works, it’s in Spanish, but there’s so little dialogue that it doesn’t matter (and the subtitles are superb).
The Holy Mountain takes things up a notch with surreal tale of spiritual enlightenment, delusion, and fraud. Starring Horacio Salinas as a thief, a fool, and a Christ-like figure, and the director as an alchemist and wise-man, it is a triumph of visual design and shock over coherent storytelling. Crammed with alchemical symbolism, nudity, and surreal violence, it feels like both a criticisms of man’s attempt to understand his soul and also an enormous prank played on western meta-culture.
Finally, we get to Fando y Lis, the director’s earliest work. It’s a messy blueprint for what was to come, and is hard to understand fully because it’s so short and feels unsteady and unsure. More than the others, this is a delight for students of film and a nightmare for the casual viewer.
Each movie has been fully restored and it all looks crisp, which is good because we are here for the visual experience, not the plot. Extras include various critics, academics and the movie’s creators themselves going on about how important these movies are. They’re both interesting and entertaining in equal measure.
The collection includes Jodorowsky’s new film Psychomagic, which is basically the director talking about his two favourite topics. Namely himself and his spiritual believes. It’s a jumble of avant-garde performance art, surreal moments, odd juxtapositions, and utterly pointless excess. Some will find it uplifting and eye-opening. Others will find it to be new-age dross. This sort of art is entirely subjective, so leave your expectations at the door.
As a collection of Jodorowsky’s work, this is a comprehensive collection of his early work with informative commentary. Like anything connected to the man, it’s a matter of personal taste, but if you like this sort of thing then this is a pretty much perfect collection.