Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Definitive Cult Spaghetti Western
El Topo decides to confront warrior Masters on a trans-formative desert journey he begins with his 6 year old son, who must bury his childhood totems to become a man. El Topo (the mole) claims to be God, while dressed as a gunfighter in black, riding a horse through a spiritual, mystical landscape strewn with old Western movie, and ancient Eastern religious symbols. Bandits slaughtered a village on his path, so El Topo avenges the massacred, then forcibly takes their leader's woman Mara as his. El Topo's surreal way is bloody, sexual and self-reflective, musing of his own demons, as he tries to vanquish those he encounters.
Erm...I'm going to put down in this review what I thought of this film as I was watching it, and see what I come out with:
In Western times, being 7 years old was considered to be the age at which you become a man?
Massacre, massacre, massacre, massacre.
He actually made his 7 year old son conduct a mercy killing. He's the world's worst dad.
Yep, shooting shoes.
Yep, slicing bananas.
Yep, making a naked woman out of seeds, then eating it.
Balloons were invented in Western times?
Bang bang, splat splat.
OK, how can he still walk after being shot with a high-powered rifle in both knees?
It's a landmine field filled with Symbolism with hair triggers ready to go off any moment with one wrong step! Many have tried to defuse these devilish lil devices to no avail! You see they were never built to solve and deactivate! Their sole purpose is to confound, act profound and on occasion blow up in your face should you get too cocky and claim you've made it through the mine field without a scratch!
I guarantee you have never seen a spaghetti western quite like this one! It's the crack baby spawned by David Lynch and Sergio Leone!
Saying it is Bizarre would be an understatement!
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one sick puppy! My highest compliment and terms of endearment for a great director!
The New York Times contacted me today for background about my review of El Topo that was published in the L.A. Free Press on April 23, 1971. They provided me with a scan of the article, and I'm reposting it here. Maybe 43 years later its verbiage is a little embarrassing; but I stand by what I wrote back then. How often do we get an opportunity to view what we thought about films through the prism of the far past experience? Let this be a lesson for all you younger reviewers on letterboxd...chances are in the far future you might be confronted with your writings, since nothing on the internet is truly ephemeral...just the way that nothing in print…
A couple of months back I introduced myself to the mad world of Alejandro Jodorowsky with his sadistic, poetic Santa Sangre masterpiece. To say I wasn’t prepared for it would be an understatement, but it truly changed the way I see horror cinema in more ways than one. Intrigued to see if Jodorowsky could top the insanity of Santa Sangre which is oddly deemed tame in its symbolism when compared to El Topo – a bold statement to say the least – here I find myself witnessing something not as irrepressible in its mystical, bloody beauty, but more so a film that is as far detached from any other western I’ve ever seen.
El Topo is brutal. Immediately Jodorowksy drowns…
The other day in my review of The Assassination of Jesse James, I said I didn't really like many westerns. Shortly after I found another western I really enjoyed. That said El Topo is anything BUT the conventional western film considering it is an Alejandro Jodorowsky film.
El Topo, as expected from any Jodorowsky film, has beautiful cinematography and is weird as fuck. The entire film is so captivating for both of those reasons, especially because there is nothing else like it. I highly recommend El Topo to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Also why are there always naked children in Jodorowsky's films? That's two for two now...
This acid western is pretty great. I loved the soundtrack. Jodorowsky is a pretty weird dude.
¿Qué coño acabo de ver?
Surrealismo puro en cada centímetro de metraje y hasta con mensajes ocultos, sujetos a la libre interpretación de todo tipo.
Strange and weird just understates this very evocative and mesmerizing film from Alejandro Jodorowsky that refuses to define itself into any genre as it is clearly a film of its own kind where it's full of wonder and potent spirituality.
The first part was okay--had some 3-star and even 3.5-star moments--but the second part delves into some really awful moments. The psychedelic western elements were enjoyable, there's some really nice imagery and moments of divine cinematography, and I thought it was very interesting what Jodorowsky did with the sound/music and the editing. Unfortunately, most of that is present only in the first half. The second half deals with the main character's spiritual rebirth; a theme not bad in itself, but disastrously cringe-worthy in the hands of a director so pretentiously cliched as Jodorowsky. The film becomes slow, boring, and incredibly highfalutin; the second act is drawn out for far too long and would have benefited from some serious condensing. The…
Haven't been so uninterested in a film in a long while. Completely unengaging and disappointingly forgettable.
I always heard about Jodorowsky from forum goers on Something Awful. After quite a few recommendations, I finally gave El Topo a watch. I had absolutely zero idea what to expect other than the poster and a brief blurb on the plot.
What I got was a very interesting film told visually and with few words. Unintentionally, I watched this in 2 parts and think it was far better this way. My confusion only made me more interested in decoding what Jodorowsky had intended to do with each scene.
To explain more would lay out what I feel are themes one sees in the movie for themselves. I will just say that if you're interested in a very visual movie that isn't afraid of some social norms we have today, give this a try.
Messianic, black-clad shootist alternatively brings justice, injustice and elaborate mayhem as he travels through a desert, a freaks colony and a corrupted town. Instantly hailed as a cult in the midnight movie circuit, a whirlwind of visual ideas, violence and humour that pulls out all stops to shock viewers and doesn't care much for coherence. Probably best enjoyed while high.
Bizarre images, but not much in the way of performance, characterizations, or surprisingly, given all the violence, pacing.
Although I appreciate, and to a large degree am moved by, I don't really buy into Jodorowsky's attempt to replicate a religious experience through film (here or in The Holy Mountain).
But, like The Holy Mountain, as a kind of psychedelic travelogue, heightened by Jodorowsky's masterful use of special effects/costuming/sets/animals, it works like gangbusters.
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