All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
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…
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…
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...
Film #22 in Around the World in 50 Movies!
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo is an utterly insane, surreal, and bizarre acid western that helped redefine one of America’s oldest film genres. The film is rich with symbolism, full of controversy, and is one of the most unique films ever crafted. Jodorowsky cemented himself as an underground legend with the release of this film and has since become one of the most influential independent filmmakers ever.
Oh man, this movie
Alejandro Jodorowsky is a filmmaking genius, without a doubt.
After watch The Holy Mountain and LOVING it, I was desperate to see what else this madman of cinema had to offer me and this was just wonderful. Almost like if a stoned on mushrooms Salvador Dali designed a video game with religion as it's main theme. The harsh colors and passionate craft are sublime, and it's eccentricities explode off the screen with panache and fervor. Absolute bliss.
(this makes a perfect double bill with Lucy, by the way)
I happened upon Sante Sangria a few years ago and I was really impressed (also, a bit freaked out. Because watch Sante Sangria). Saw The Holy Mountain and thought it was truly amazing. One of my top films of all time. I had some expectations going into El Topo.
Color me whatever color disappointment is, probably a pale brown. I put up with El Topo. I found it tedious.
Plot. Gunfighter goes up against four masters, ends up in a cave populated by the deformed and limbless. Digs a tunnel. Reunites with his son. Immolates. All this surrounded by transgressive imagery and mystical bullshit.
El Topo is very similar in construction to the Holy Mountain, but lacks that films propulsive feel and sense that there is a destination. It lacks a point. I'm just not picking up what Jodorowsky is puttin' down, here.
The Vista of Endless Unrealized Possibilities
You’re creating your own story right now. This very moment.
In fact,If you can’t find the meaning in El Topo, then you have found El Topo‘s true meaning.
Jordowosky has crafted an oblique, messy, complex, surrealist Western with powerful and haunting imagery and a troubling but interesting narrative. Most troubling though is some obviously questionable ideas the director has about women, seeing as how the female characters are either seen as tempting seductress or cause for the protagonists undoing, likewise they’re often presented as either meek, backstabbing or hysterical. Whether this is a product of its time or the director’s own prejudices is to be seen though, what remains is undeniably commanding but inherently flawed.
i'll say this- EL TOPO, a major cinematic departure point for me in high school, has aged better than i thought. but it still hasn't aged well. it's mostly a lot of #FakeDeep nonsense with mad amounts of misogyny and homophobia, with a few scenes of classic surrealist humor that cut through and bring a little humanity to an otherwise bleak film that seems relatively ahuman in its extreme commitment to symbolism and spirituality. like quentin tarantino cares more about movies than people, setting his films in a world of discarded references that exist just for references' sake, jodorowsky cares more about symbols than people or characters. the symbols don't mean anything; they stand for themselves. it's the most extreme…
Watching a Jodorowsky film is akin to standing in the middle of an emergency room packed with grotesquely maimed patients while two nurses fondle each other in the supply closet and the head doctor sits nude in the middle of the floor, burning everyone's charts.
Part 1 is pretty damn amazing but part 2, though continuing part one in a way that makes enough sense, is so tonally different and considerably less interesting. It's appropriate given the themes for this to happen but it does leave the second half somewhat underwhelming.
Jodorowsky's savagely toxic Acid Western is a story of enlightenment that leaves you utterly bewildered.
There's a lot to appreciate in the stronger first half, with Topo's quest to become the greatest gunman in the land superbly riffing on the styles of Leone & Peckinpah. But sadly the second half, which takes the form of a redemptive love story, descends in to a destructive series of demandingly surreal sequences that are driven by dense symbolism.
By the end you are left feeling dazed & delirious, like you've drifted across the entire desert completely bereft of sustenance.
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…