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?
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…
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!
This movie is completely cooked to the bone fucking ridiculous. I have no idea where to rank it but I absolutely loved it. You can say a lot of things bout El Topo but you cant say that you weren't entertained.
This movie was made to be reviewed by you. Please watch it if you can find time in your busy schedule. You'll have a field day.
One could dismiss it as pure manipulative indulgence, seeing as though any idea of restraint has been thrown out the window, but the obscenity was never only on the surface. It seemed to run deeper than that and there was enough ambiguity evident that I can for myself at least conclude…
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…
I'll come back to writing something about this when I watch it again. For now, I'll just say this was really fucking cool. Some of the shots in this... just wow. This being my first Jodorowsky, I was very impressed. Looking forward to his others.
So bizarre, yet so beautiful.
If you wandered out into the desert, took a metric fuck ton of peyote, and read the King James Bible cover to cover, that's this. Bizarre would be the understatement of the century when describing this movie. It was a cluster of insanity with so much going on, you can only process so much in one viewing. However, Jodorowsky definitely succeeds in dissecting and satirizing many elements of the spaghetti western in a unique and clever way, especially in analysis of the silent drifter antihero. Although it covers so much ground that there is never room for character development, El Topo contains some of the most imaginatively one of a kind characters I have ever seen. That being said, for better or worse, depending on your taste, there is absolutely NOTHING conventional about this film and the way it is presented.
Quando era mais novo, no momento mais "sou muito inteligente" da minha vida, entrei numa discussão sobre um cara muito forte e burro matar um cara muito inteligente e fraco. O cara inteligente ia morrer achando que estava certo, portanto pra si mesmo ele ganha a luta. O cara forte e burro acharia que estava certo por ter ganhado a luta e em seguida esqueceria disso.
O conflito aí é que talvez o cara fraco e inteligente, mesmo morrendo certo e, portanto, tornando impossível convencê-lo de que ele estava errado em um momento posterior, seria esquecido e a percepção do resto do mundo não se importaria com o que ele achou antes de morrer. Já o fortão, mesmo estando certo…
Man, the Spanish translation of the Bible is really different from what I was told.
Nuts. Maybe a little too nuts for my liking. If Holy Mountain is a crazed masterpiece, El Topo is a prelude.
Every single scene has richer symbolic meaning. It's often overwhelming and confusing, and easy to lose track. In any case, Jodorowsky's limitless imagination and cinematic eye never allows El Topo to be boring.
Well, it's certainly the most philosophical surrealist western that I've ever set my eyes on. Also home to some fairly haunting visuals. Not going to be mistaken for any other film, that's for sure. Four stars for swinging for the fences. Though I am not sure that Baseball was even the game in question.
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