The greatest films of all time as voted on by the Criterion subreddit using a ranked top 10 methodology from…
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…
Things Jodorowsky loves:
- Disabled people
- Hurting animals
Things Jodorowsky hates:
- The Illuminati
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…
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 western steeped in mescaline, animal cruelty and oceans of vanity on the part of its creator; irritating and brilliant in equal measure, this plays in retrospect as more of a dress rehearsal for The Holy Mountain than anything else.
What a strange movie.
By far the strangest film I've seen, also among one of the most nightmarish, humorous, and thematically layered. The radical violence is certainly exploitative but beautifully represents the conflicts of El Tapo's spiritual journey, while at the same time forces us to confront our own sadism. This is either a golden artifact of cinema, or I'm just into weird shit. Most likely both.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is particularly famous for his Avant-Garde filmmaking style which is prominent in films such as "Santa Sangre".
"El Topo" is such a great western much different to American westerns at the time such as Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch".
The film is so Psychedelic and surreal, at times I forgot I was watching a western and thought I was watching a psychodrama. The film follows our title character: El Topo, which translates to English as "The Mole" as embarks on a symbolic quest.
This was my first Jodorowsky; and it certainly hasn't disappointed me. The direction, acting and cinematography are all of an incredibly high standard and the film's "Trippy", psychedelic atmosphere makes it a worthwhile film.
Saw it with a live soundtrack and it made Jodorowsky's madness even more visceral and provocative. Now I'm set to see The Holy Mountain again with a live soundtrack too if such an opportunity ever arises. My ears will probably bleed rainbows.
Really ought to rewatch it.
Not for me
When I was a budding cult cinema buff, El Topo was the one classic midnight movie that was impossible to find. Although I read about it extensively, I didn't actually see it until after college, when I'd already devoured Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre and hunted down a bootleg of The Holy Mountain. Not that I didn't like it, but I think I just experienced El Topo too late for it to impact me deeply. Coming back to it as a full-fledged adult, its psychedelic concoction of Western and Eastern spirituality seems even more naïve, or at least very of its time. Nonetheless, Jodorowsky's singular vision impresses me more now.
It goes sorta like this: After avenging a slaughtered settlement, gunslinger…
Two hours is too long for abstractly expressing thoughts on social and philosophical issues.
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Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…