Alejandro Jodorowsky - The Surrealism of the Extreme

Categorizing Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films can be as hard as assigning a dominant quality to their very own maker.

During his turbulent life, this singular artist, has been not only a film and avant-garde theatre director but also an actor, a mime, a composer, a comic writer, a fiction writer, and even the guru in a mystical school of psychology. Even if the skills of - the born in Russia by Jewish parents and grown up in Chile – Jodorowsky seem limitless, it is his quality as a director that has indelibly marked his creative hyperactivity.

The cinematic Jodorosky seeks that his every film functions as a mystical, transcendental experience for the audience. It is a mixture of wild, hallucinating surrealism with religious, almost mystical allusions, that is, in the end, riveting thanks to its iconoclastic magic.

All these, of course, provided that the viewer is determined to accept the barrage of extreme pictures as well as a content that scorns “consistently” anything conventional. The fact that Jodorowsky has repeatedly received threats for his life can be but accidental. His films are swords ready to twist mercilessly into the guts of social respectability.

The 1968 film Fando y Lis, the filmaker’s first feature film, laid the foundation for the cultivation of his notoriety as a provocative film maker, something that Jodorowsky seemed to seek from the start. The nude, the raw violence and his blasphemous pictures are depicted in a unique way in the black and white canvas; an inhospitable and dystopian world.

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Even though El Topo (1970) is based on the aesthetic patterns of the spaghetti western, it develops into a delirious trip, soaked in limitless improprieties, religious and occultist symbols, surreal pictures and situations, in which allegory dominates along with the demystification of the stereotypes of organized religion. The result is a grotesque and violent film which received, over time, mythical dimensions and in which Jodorowsky undertakes to give flesh and blood to the main role (Moses, Buddha and Jesus as a hyper-spatiotemporal presence) in addition to writing, directing and funding the film.

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In The Holy Mountain (1973) Jodorowsky finally has at his disposal a budget that is able to support the breadth of his inspiration. This is a film about a transcendental quest which was filmed with a cast that, before the filming, had to undergo mystical training that aimed at illumination. From the provocative use of christian symbols to the artful depiction of worlds that allude to the dominant expressions of human corruption, and from the unbearable violence of a massive massacre to the revelation of the mountain with the primordial secrets, The Holy Mountain is a surreal epic that lives up to its fame.

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Santa Sagre (1989) is justifiably considered the most “commercial” and comprehensible film of the Chilean creator, yet it does not cease to comprise a provocative allegory in which horror, illusions, surrealism and the torture of a problematic sexuality, accompanied by their rich symbolic force, hold the main roles.


This year, after a 23year absence from film direction, the 84year old Jodorowsky returns with the film La danza de la Realidad, a film which he has calls autobiographical and one which, as expected, stumbles paroxysmally between a wild fantasy and a cruel reality. The film will be screened in Greece for the first time in the 26th Panorama of European Cinema as part of the world cinema premiers section .

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