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...
Buena peli para detectar imposturas e impostores! Malísima, con pretensiones.
The sprawl of this movie is both its strength and its weakness. There's so much packed into this thing (much of which is of questionable production value, but you forgive it because of its maverick spirit) that it's easy to dismiss as random and bizarre for the sake of random and bizarre. It feels that way due to its elements, but structurally it isn't random. There's a discernible journey here (granted, an oft-used one of youthful attitudes leading to a spiritual redemption in older age); therefore the weirdness out of which it's constructed helps to make the whole thing feel oddly compelling. One can feel the weight in the journey, which is some kind of miracle; that weight acts as an underpinning that barely holds all the twisted parts together. It's fascinating that it can work as well as it does.
I was surprised that I didn't see El Topo as I saw Holy Mountain.
el topo is a masterpiece, every frame is a painted canvas,
one of the western most visionary films in the history of the genre
So there's a part of this movie where a female dwarf is forced to take her top off. And while I'm watching this scene, I'm thinking to myself. "Huh. You know what's weird? I don't think I've ever seen a naked midget before. What an exciting new experience for me!" And then I thought to myself "You know, it's actually kind of weird that that sort of thing would even occur to me. I doubt that's a thought that most people even have." And then I thought "You know, I probably shouldn't use the phrase 'midgets', because I'm pretty sure it's considered derogatory and I wouldn't want to offend anybody". And then I thought, "Oh, hell, this is just my…
"Destroy me. Never depend on me."
- El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
..:: Machismovision: Wow The West Was Fun - Film #22 ::..
Bury your childhood, your memory of your mother and don't depend (& destroy) your father... because you are a man now son, and the mosses like Jodorowsky is riding into your subconscious with his allegorical acid western freakshow 'El Topo', with the grand intention of taking you on a spiritual journey to open your third eye.
Cult classic that I'm sure everyones seen multiple times, I've caught it several times now, first back in my teens on Alex Cox's brilliant BBC cult movie showcases Moviedrome. I'm still no wiser to WTF is going much of its duration, but…
At times, visually stunning - at other times, it's allegory taken to the point where it blasts narrative structure into a bloody mess. It's one of those movies where you feel good having survived it. But I'm not sure I can say that I enjoyed it.
Of particular note - it was an outdoor screening and we got rained out in August in Los Angeles.
Search for enlightenment is the main theme in the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. His films are all a lesson in spirituality, a spiritual journey into the human psyche. Jodorowsky has no problem with using any form of spirituality or psychology in his search for enlightenment. Everything is relevant and everything is a part of the answer, be it Zen Buddishm, Jung, Hinduism, art history, alchemism, sufism and or any other forms of mysticism and of course The Bible.
El Topo is about a man called El Topo (A mole) who is searching for the truth (in the film we are told that the mole is digging because it is searching for the sun). The stages of the journey are named…
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