There are few who would disagree that Alejandro Jodorowsky
(born 1929) is a restless soul. He has had his fingers in
more creative mediums than I care mention here. Always innovative
and possible a little mad - the planned sixteen hour version
of Frank Herbert's Dune sounds great until you realise
that there is a good chance that a proportion of your audience
is likely to expire or at the very least wet themselves -
he has produced graphic stories in the prestigious Metal Hurlant;
engaged in mime with Marcel Marceau; and presided at Marilyn
Manson's marriage to Dita Von Teese - now if that's not a
full life, I don't know what is.
on where in the world you mention his name the response will
be varied, though in both the U.S.A. and Britain he is best
known for his trippy, surrealist film making. Although his
output has not been prodigious it has had some important influence
on other film makers. Due to the extremes of opinion that
his films usually generate, you will see him portrayed as
both genius and fool, but then that's not such a bad thing.
Jodorowsky made films without deference to anyone and this
singular vision was always going to lead to controversy.
box set is going to be a Jodorowsky fan's wet dream. Tartan
has really pushed the boat out to make this six disc set a
must have. Apart from the films El Topo, Holy Mountain
and Fando & Lis, all lovingly restored, the set contains
the soundtracks to the first two films. You also get La
Constellation Jodorowsky, a ninety minute documentary.
I am reliably informed, by the PR blurb, that purchasers of
the box set will also get DVD notes written by Ben Cobb, who
has written a book on Jodorowsky. If you don't fancy the whole
six disc box set, El Topo and Holy Mountain are
to be released as stand alone discs.
El Topo (1970) was really the film that gave Jodorowsky
his reputation. It's most probably the nearest thing to a
cinematic acid trip your likely to experience, which means
that your either going to love it as a cult classic or stare
at it in dumbfounded confusion. With hindsight, the mixture
of imagery and philosophy most probably seemed more profound
under the influence of mind altering substances, but whatever
your personal view, nobody ever walked away from El Topo
without forming a strong opinion. John Lennon so loved it
that he not only championed its showing but also helped Jodorowsky
make his next film.
To define what the film is about is a little more problematic.
The main thrust of the film revolves around El Topo (the mole)
who inhabits a mesmerising version of a spaghetti western.
That said, you have to add generous layers of religious and
mystical counter culture imagery, a few hundred buckets of
blood, dwarfs, monks and the general detritus of a deranged
mind. El Topo goes about engaging in quests in his ever present
need to, like his namesake, dig his way through the world
he finds himself in.
film comes with a nice set of audio options; Spanish and English
stereo with a Spanish 5.1 track and directors commentary.
For extras the disc has a seven minute featurette, with Jodorowsky
discussing El Topo, and the original theatrical trailer.
Holy Mountain (1973) was financed by John Lennon and
Yoko Ono and if anything is even more extreme a product than
El Topo. Once again narrative structure, character
development and all the usual silly things that one may expect
from a film are pretty much ignored in favour of philosophising
and dense surrealism. There is a loose plot about a thief
who joins forces with a group of the rich and powerful to
travel to the holy mountain in search of the secret immortality,
but like El Topo the narrative is secondary to the
kaleidoscope of images and ideas, the maniacally whirling
dancing veils of imagination.
The biggest problem with the film is that the overall effect
is much the same as El Topo, great if you loved it,
but just as impenetrable if you never understood the first
film. The film comes with the option of either an English
5.1 or stereo track with a director's commentary. On the extras
side, the film comes with a short piece about the films restoration;
deleted scenes with commentary; the original theatrical trailer;
and an eight minute piece on the tarot. Tarot is important
to Jodorowsky, he can even be found in a café near where he
lives reading the tarot for whom ever may ask.
The last feature in the set, and not released as a stand alone
DVD, is Fando & Lis (1968). In this movie Fando and
the partially paralysed Lis go off to find the fabled city
of Tar. Yes, I know, even I think that looks like a no brainer
when it's written down. Unlike the first two films Fando
is in black and white. Also on the disc is La Cravatte
(1957) which is a short mime film based on a work by Thomas
Mann. The disc also contains a five minute film about La Cravatte's
restoration and another detailing Fandos restoration. If that
were not enough there is a director's commentary for Fando.
About the only thing you don't get with the box set is the
necessary pharmacological products of dubious providence to
put you back in the seventies. Marking the films was always
going to be problematic, if your of a mind to think that Jodorowsky
is a genius, and lets face it half the people do, then your
not going to get much better than this box set. Of course
if your not in that half these films are going to be heavy