Complete list of the films Guillermo del Toro has recommended on twitter. Click the 'Read notes' button to see his…
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.
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…
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?
Things Jodorowsky loves:
- Disabled people
- Hurting animals
Things Jodorowsky hates:
- The Illuminati
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…
Drag my ass. I find Jodorowsky to be one of the most irritating filmmakers around, for his level of acclaim. He's not a particularly skilled writer or director and he's sure as hell not a good actor. I don't even find him to be "charmingly weird" or anything. I saw a whole lot weirder stuff watching Adult Swim as a tween. Jodorowsky just seems like a pseudo-intellectual dick with a massive ego.
As a director he relies far too heavily on zooms and dollies and the way everything is framed is about as lazily as possible most of the time. As a writer he comes up with a few interesting ideas but has absolutely no idea how to develop them…
If anyone cares: I haven't been watching movies lately because I've been watching Lena Dunham's Girls. I usually don't watch tv shows but this one is an unusual acceptation.
This movie was great though, I bought the dvd from JB HI FI for like over 30 dollars (so much money DAMN, it does come in a paper fold design thing which almost makes up for it) and this cool girl behind the counter was like 'I'm so happy someone else knows about this film! It's a shame we don't have The Holy Mountain though.' And she was right, I ought to have seen this film earlier cause it's so good (even for a western, which I don't usually get on board with).
Anyway, in the name of that cool JB HI FI lady, I will watch The Holy Mountain!!!
Way too much symbolism for my brain to handle
El topo es un animal que cava galerías bajo la tierra, buscando el sol. A veces su camino no lleva a la superficie. Cuando ve el sol, queda ciego.
Inspirado en Fellini, el guionista-director-actor Alejandro Jodorowsky toma la sencilla historia de un pistolero dispuesto a derrotar a los mejores competidores del país y la convierte en una alegoría del hombre que busca la iluminación. El Topo atraviesa un desierto poblado por bandas brutales y guerreros grotescos y surrealistas, y cada uno simboliza una fase diferente en la travesía del héroe. [...] Al contrario que otros westerns, El Topo no pretende alardear de precisión naturalista o histórica. El mundo plasmado es un paisaje muy personal, una representación del ciclo de Vida, Muerte y Renacimiento. El Topo es fascinante por ser un producto de su época, un documento sobre las lecciones y filosofías que la gente estudiaba en aquel tiempo, así como de sus temores, tanto conscientes como inconscientes.
(Steven Jay Schneider)
Primera mitad de la película: Me encanta. Un western muy surrealista sobre la búsqueda de "iluminación". Obviamente cargado de mucho simbolismo y de elementos que tal vez o tal vez no tengan sentido, pero que no decepciona de ningún modo.
Segunda mitad de la película: El típico cliché del pueblo del oeste lleno de gente malvada y desagradable y del protagonista que viene a revolucionar las cosas. Los elementos surrealistas quedan aun lado y aunque sigue siendo "rara" pierde mucho la gracia.
John Lennon was so enthused after seeing El Topo that he immediately financed the film's wide release and Jodorowsky's next project. It's easy to see how this film might have had such an effect in 1970. It must have seemed like it was from another planet. The cinematography and visuals are sometimes extraordinary and always challenging. Thematically and visually, it was certainly a groundbreaking film upon its release.
The work as a whole is mysterious and confrontational, though it doesn't suggest any kind of particular coherent message and is instead a series of metaphorically rich and visually stimulating silhouettes or vignettes that form a medley of various parts. At times, some of the metaphor is so thin that its message…
I liked EL TOPO even though it's a bit too meandering. I was into the wild west style, criticism of Catholic hypocrisy, reverence for weirdness, and gunslinger philosophy. BUT as with so many things, I wish it hadn't been so misogynist (not to mention homophobic). :(
Movies that are slightly off.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…