Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Beast's Movie Cave-El Topo

Today was, for most of the day anyway, a grey, rainy one...perfect for a movie! I watched El Topo (1970), the first Midnight Movie, directed, written , and starring Alejandro Jodorowski. I'd heard it was strange, and it was not lacking in the weirdness department. The only other film by him I'd seen to date was Santa Sangre(1989), which also was heavy on the weirdness...which is fine by me.

(Looks kinda like Yellowbeard here! )

El Topo (The Mole) is the story of a gunslinger on a quest for spirituality and God, essentially. The film is full of strange imagery, incorportaing Catholocism and Eastern religions as well as other symbolic images into a bizarre cinematic experience. There is also a good-sized helping of sexual themes, as well as violence, with pools and streets literally running red with blood at times( in the DVD extras, Jodorowski says "You cannot make a mystical picture without violence").

The film is full of striking images, such as the beginning, where El Topo has his son bury his first toy and his Mother's picture, his son standing with the monks he has left him with, the aforementioned streets of blood, a crucified dead goat, a collapsing tower, an underground city of deformed people, not to mention the look of El Topo himself, clad all in black. The backgrounds where the movie was shot are nothing less than beautiful,too.

It's supposed to be a shocking film, and I suppose it was back in the day, but I didn't find it all that shocking...I've seen a lot of strange films. I guess I could have done without El Topo's son running around with no pants on, though. It definately is a weird and bizarre movie, to be sure. I do like a surreal film now and again, although it may not be to everyone's tastes. If you're used to straightforward narratives and over-explained storylines, this isn't the movie for you. Also, I suppose some may find the religious imagery offensive, as well as the sex and violence. For those looking for a different viewing experience, though, El Topo might be an interesting change of pace.

The film has been unavailable on DVD or VHS for years. The director and the producer had a falling out 30 years ago, thus holding up the release of the film. They recently patched up their differences, and now it's been remastered on a nice DVD release with a sharp image transfer.

If you have a craving for a surreal, spiritual, violent, mystical cinematic experience, check out El Topo.


Charles Gramlich said...

I bet I'd like this. Looks suitable weird. I love interesting visuals.

Scott said...


It's like a Spaghetti Western on acid...I enjoyed it.

Heff said...

I might get in to something like that this weekend, as our weather is currently SHIT.

Lana Gramlich said...

Maybe it wasn't shocking to you because you weren't on enough acid. *LOL*

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Scott,

Good God -- Hank loved this movie! I never thought I'd hear of it again -- there was a video store in Denton that had copies of all banned and not released films and El Topo was one of them. Now that it's out, I'll have to give it another view some fifteen years later and see if I remember it!

Scott said...




That sounds like a cool video store...wonder if it's still around?