In a Chilean little town, the son of an uprooted couple, formed by a rigorous communist father and a loving but weak mother, tries to pave his own path in a society that does not understand ... Read allIn a Chilean little town, the son of an uprooted couple, formed by a rigorous communist father and a loving but weak mother, tries to pave his own path in a society that does not understand their Jewish-Ukrainian origins.In a Chilean little town, the son of an uprooted couple, formed by a rigorous communist father and a loving but weak mother, tries to pave his own path in a society that does not understand their Jewish-Ukrainian origins.
It is not an unknown occurrence in movies that a respected artist takes an inordinately long hiatus from the medium: David Lean, Sergio Leone and Stanley Kubrick are perhaps the most egregious examples but Jodorowsky's 23 years is probably the lengthiest sabbatical yet! Although he had been threatening to make a sequel to EL TOPO for the last decade – his screenplay of THE SONS OF EL TOPO was even glimpsed sitting on the man's shelves in the aforementioned "Dune" documentary! – it is perhaps unsurprising that it took the now-85-year-old Jodorowsky's most personal project, an adaptation of his own autobiography, to lure him back to the cinema (even if that only came about as a result of a reteaming with his DUNE producer Michel Seydoux). Equally plausible is the fact that, for a man with such a long and varied career, one film would not be enough to tell his whole life-story and, as his young son Adan said in the Q&A which followed the film's screening, Alejandro is currently working on the second installment! I, for one, am looking forward to it
In keeping with the autobiographical nature of the film, his oldest son Brontis (who played the child in EL TOPO) has the lead role here of Jodorowsky's strict businessman father, Cristobal plays a Buddhist mystic who runs around practically naked, Adan plays a long-haired, bespectacled anarchist and Alejandro himself appears as the ruminating guardian angel of his put-upon younger self! Although I would be the first one to admit that I much prefer the Luis Buñuel brand of Surrealism rather than the self-indulgent obscurantist style propagated by the likes of Federico Fellini, Fernando Arrabal (Jodorowsky's own partner in his "Panic" movement days) and David Lynch (the director who ultimately brought DUNE to the big-screen, albeit disastrously, in 1984!), I have to say that sitting through the not unsubstantial 130-minute duration of THE DANCE OF REALITY made me realize that even Jodorowsky's most outre' ideas in his previous films might well have had their seeds in his troubled childhood in the desert Chilean village of Tocopilla.
The film can be roughly divided into three segments: the first part concentrates on the boy's physical and mental abuse at the hands of his Ukranian-Jewish father (including vignettes involving red shoes and the fire brigade); the second on the father's ineffectual political activities (including an amusing failed assassination attempt at a best-dressed dog contest and a lengthy episode as the Chilean dictator's horse groomer); and, finally, the prodigal father's return homeward (after suffering from a bout of amnesia following much torture at the hands of the tyrannical regime). The father (incidentally, Brontis' appearance here turns him into a virtual dead ringer for Hollywood actor Peter Sarsgaard!) had been a circus performer and is portrayed as a staunch atheistic Communist, the mother only communicates in operatic arias and the young boy is seen sporting a blonde wig at the latter's insistence (in emulation of her own father's mane) and the former's chagrin. While berating his son for looking effeminate and mingling with the local mystics and mutilated soldiers-turned-paupers, Jodorowsky Sr. is shown consorting with whores, transvestites and political subversives in his weekly night-time trysts to the local tavern.
As can be gleaned from a cursory glance at the storyline and as was to be expected from this director, despite the reflective and occasionally even pastoral mood that permeates the proceedings, the film cannot fail but include a surfeit of full-frontal nudity which result in a couple of strong scenes: both father and mother get to shed their clothes but, instead of using it during scenes of sexual activity, the elder Jodorowsky shows his father being humiliated and tortured, himself as a young boy being comforted by his stark-naked, big-breasted mum and the latter miraculously healing her leprosy–stricken husband by urinating on him!! In such a godless environment (where religious relics are dumped into the toilet bowl), even horses can become objects of desire as the Chilean leader is depicted metaphorically having a virtual orgasm while astride his white-maned Bucephalus and, consequently, it is the latter who gets poisoned instead of its owner who is in turn devastated by the loss! The director's typically skewed sense of humour, then, is evident in the recurring presence of a midget barker, forever donning outlandish costumes, in an attempt to draw crowds to Jodorowsky's lingerie shop - but which are mostly unappreciated by his irascible employer!
While the occasional longueur does make itself felt (particularly during the second half), the film moves at a surprisingly breezy pace thanks to a compelling narrative and one is certainly thankful for it – especially considering the feature film started screening at around 10:00 p.m.! Jodorowsky's visual artistry is as sharp as ever and one barely realizes that the movie was shot on digital. Adan Jodorowsky's score is definitely an asset and, when asked about what inspired him to write it during the following Q&A session, he mentioned not just his father's self-penned music for EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN but also the works of legendary film composer Bernard Herrmann!
- Jul 26, 2014