Alejandro Jodorowsky wants to start a new film, and he needs your help to make it. This new movie by the director of cult masterpieces El Topo, The Holy Mountain, and Santa Sangre will be an adaptation of his autobiography Danza De La Realidad (The Dance of Reality), though it will focus predominantly on his childhood in Tocopilla.
Jodorowsky has had years-long problems getting funding for projects such as Sons of El Topo (aka Abelcain) and King Shot, so he’s turning to his fans to help fund the film. It’s through the official Danza De La Realidad website (in Spanish) rather than through Kickstarter like Hal Hartley or IndieGoGo like the film 1000 Kings. A donation of $100 will get you an exclusive DVD of the finished film.
I’ll be writing a lot more about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films in the future since his work has left a profound mark on me. For now, I’ve provided a crash course on Jodorowsky for those unfamiliar with his work.[Via Twitch]
Fando y Lis (1968)
Fando y Lis was Jodorowsky’s first full-length feature film. Made in Mexico, it’s a tripped out journey to the land of Tar and a nice taste of Jodorowsky’s sensibilities. Part Fellini, part Buñuel; part violence, part mysticism; Jodorowsky’s filmmaking is wholly his own — the work of a psychotic shaman. Prior to this feature film, Jodorowsky was trained as a mime in France by Marcel Marceau, hung out with surrealist André Breton, and adapted Thomas Mann’s The Severed Heads into a short film that impressed Jean Cocteau. In Mexico, he did controversial surrealist performance art and television. Fando y Lis was an exclamation point to all this. It caused a full-blown riot when it premiered at an Acapulco film festival and was subsequently banned in Mexico.
El Topo (1970)
(Be wary of the trailer above — it sort of spoils the movie.) El Topo is the film that made Jodorowsky a cult hero. It’s one of the movies most closely associated with the term “midnight movie,” and was a favorite of John Lennon. An acid western on peyote, El Topo begins as a sort of metaphysical spaghetti western about a ruthless bad ass (played by Jodorowsky himself) who abandons his son in order to locate and kill mystical gunslingers. The film shifts midway through, however, and becomes more about enlightenment, violence, and enlightenment through violence. El Topo is legendary, crazy movie dynamite. I watched this many times while in college when I discovered my school’s library had a copy of El Topo on Japanese laserdisc.
The Holy Mountain (1973)
As a follow-up to El Topo, Jodorowsky was given a much bigger budget and allowed to indulge himself spiritually and physically (he claims to have slept with every woman cast in that film — every single one of them). The Holy Mountain was the result, which is a work of sheer psychedelic alchemical madness. A woman uses a dildo to bring a giant robot to orgasm, a Jesus-like figure destroys a room full of papier-mâché Jesus statues, armless midgets go ballistic on mannequins, blood takes many forms. The first 20-minutes of the film is a mini-masterpiece in itself, and it actually surprises me that a number of El Topo fans rejected The Holy Mountain on its initial release. George Harrison was originally going to be the lead in the film, but he declined because he objected to a shot in which his a**hole would be scrubbed clean. I am not making any of that up.
The Dune That Never Was (aka One of the Greatest Movies Never Made)
For a little while, Jodorowsky was set to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune. I read somewhere that Jodorowsky claimed to have finished the novel in a single, 24-long sitting. The film would have starred Orson Welles and Salvador Dali. H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Moebius created some magnificent concept art. The score would have been an avant garde/prog/psychedelic wonder by Henry Cow, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Magma, and Pink Floyd. Yet the film’s script was running far too long, and the pre-production costs were skyrocketing, so the thing that would be the craziest movie ever made was never made. For me, this is right up there with Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen as far as projects I wish were seen through to completion.
One of the two Jodorowsky movies I’ve never seen, Tusk is a slapstick comedy filmed in India about a girl and her elephant. It’s supposed to be a bumbling, painful movie to watch, and Jodorowsky no longer wishes to be associated with it. During a radio interview years ago, Jodorowsky claimed that the film’s producer’s promised him an enormous elephant for the film. Instead he got a regular-sized elephant. I noticed some copies of the film online, but the video quality is abysmal. The film remains unavailable, though I will eventually see it. In the years after Tusk, Jodorowsky would team with Moebius and others to create his acclaimed Incal comics, which have been collected and reprinted in their original colors by Humanoids.
Santa Sangre (1989)
Santa Sangre was the first Jodorowsky movie I watched. It was the late 1990s, the summer between junior and senior year in high school. I was working at a Suncoast and was looking for more weird movies to watch. One of the regulars recommended I check out Santa Sangre, at the time the only Jodorowsky movie available in the United States (El Topo and The Holy Mountain were held up in a rights battle with Allen Klein). I still have my VHS copy of it, and it was a revelation. It is Jodorowsky’s best made movie, though not as strange as his previous film. (It’s still incredibly strange, don’t worry.) Santa Sangre is essentially Jodorowsky’s demented riff on Psycho, but with his own touches of intense violence and surreal beauty. Watching it again recently, I realized just how much the movie has unconsciously influenced me since high school.
The Rainbow Thief (1990)
The only other Jodorowsky movie I have not seen is The Rainbow Thief, which stars Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif as a pair of eccentrics living in the sewers. It screened in the New York City area roughly a year ago, but I couldn’t make it. Like Tusk, it’s another film that Jodorowsky was not as emotionally invested in. In the same radio interview I mentioned earlier, Jodorowsky mentioned that he an Sharif got along well, but he hated O’Toole. It remains his last completed film.
Sons of El Topo and King Shot
For more than a decade, Jodorowsky has wanted to make a sequel to El Topo. About 12 years ago it seemed like it might happen since Marilyn Manson was attached to the project. The money fell through and the project remains in limbo. In 2006, a surreal gangster movie called King Shot was going to be his next project. It would have been co-produced by David Lynch and would have starred Manson, Nick Nolte, Asia Argento, and Udo Kier. Again, that project fell through due to lack of funding. Despite these collapsed projects, Jodorowsky continues to write books and comics. He also gives free tarot card readings in France and practices psychomagic, a therapeutic blend of art, surrealism, shamanism, and psychotherapy.
Danza De La Realidad
So what can we expect from Danza if it gets made? I haven’t read the book, but I recall an anecdote he shared during an appearance in New York City. Though in his early 80s, he seemed vigorous and intensely alive.
One day as a child, he sat at the dinner table while his mother and father argued. His mother got so angry that she threw a plate of eggs at his father. His father ducked and the plate hit a landscape painting behind him, covering the sky in yolk. “My god,” Jodorowsky said. “At that moment I discovered surrealism.”
If the movie will blend realism, surrealism, and a childlike understanding of the world, I’m pretty excited of what might be.