(1970) dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky
This is one of those movies that almost everyone has seen and is typically considered a piece of surrealistic midnight movie genius, as is director Alejandro Jodorowsky. But not probably by everyone. And that would include me.
I mean, I like the idea of this. On the surface it sounds interesting, some bizarre Western with heavy religious/soul-searching themes with juxtapositions of bizarre and humorous happenings, philosophical yet not overly self-serious.
Yeah, but it sucks. I can say that I didn’t like it from the first few minutes, which is always a worrying feeling to have going into any movie of length. It often betells of films that I will ultimately despise. El Topo actually got more interesting in the second half, though by the end of the first half, I was hoping that it was the end of the movie itself.
The first half follows the titular El Topo as a ruthless gunslinger, going around and killing other “gunslingers”, playing with a standard Westerns theme, but these gunslingers are all clearly representational of philosophical tenets or something, playing a series of head games with the man, who is spurred by a woman to fight the fights. These interactions are ponderous and frustrating in their mix of pretense and nonsense.
The second half has “the mole” as a dedicated monk in a cave with a bunch of deformed and misshapen people, played with several people who could have been the cast for Freaks II or something. But he connects with a pretty woman who is a dwarf and they strive to save the people in the cave from the crass and horrible townspeople who live nearby. I guess this part had a bit more of a narrative despite the fact that you don’t really know where its going…
Maybe it’s just lame of me, but I liked the second part a bit better. Though I was thrilled to see the film finally end. I read a quote by Jodorowsky that reads: “If you are great, El Topo is a great picture. If you are limited, El Topo is limited”. I guess that I am limited. I will say that I could theoretically come around to it, but for now, I am going to cut all the Jodorowsky films from my queue and simply respect its status to others and say that it ain’t my bag.