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12. El Topo; movie review

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Title : 12. El Topo; movie review
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Cert 18
124 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong bloody violence

"That is the weirdest film I've seen in a long time," proclaimed Mrs W.
"Hold on, that is the weirdest film I have EVER seen," I replied.
So, how on earth do you rate Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo out of ten?
On the plus side, it is such an arresting movie we couldn't take our eyes off it for the entire two hours (during a bad film, both of us tend to become distracted).
But, on the downside, its story is utterly incomprehensible and the movie is very violent.
According to the accompanying press material for its re-release, El Topo is Jodorowsky's "most notorious film" and is described as an "acid-Western".
Does that mean it would make more sense if the viewer was under the influence of illegal substances or that the director was at the time he made it?
To know the answer we would need a time machine to take us back to 1970 when it was released.
Noting that its advocates are the likes of David Lynch, John Lennon and Bob Dylan, I can certainly see a link with the mind expansion of Jodorowsky's artistic peers.
The press release goes on to state it is considered: "a countercultural masterpiece, which ingeniously combines iconic Americana symbolism with Jodorowsky’s own idiosyncratic surrealist aesthetic.
And adds: "El Topo is an incredible journey through nightmarish violence, mind-bending mysticism and awe-inspiring imagery."
You will note the use of the word mind-bending... it may be those drugs again.
Anyway, Jodorowsky plays the central character - an unnamed man in black riding through the desert, a la Clint Eastwood.
The only difference is that he is accompanied by a naked seven-year-old boy (his real-life son, Brontis) who he teaches to kill people.
Yep, even a young boy is part of the extreme blood-letting of El Topo which includes myriad torture and sex scenes too.
Indeed, hectic scene follows hectic scene, leaving the viewer no time to try to fathom what is actually going on.
Even after cogitating and sleeping on it, I am still none the wiser.
But am I glad we watched it? Yes, because it is a film like no other.

Reasons to watch: There isn't another film like it
Reasons to avoid: It is beyond weird

Laughs: Six
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know? It was thanks to John Lennon that the film acquired a worldwide distribution. He was so impressed by this movie that he urged a close friend of his to buy the rights and take charge of distribution.

The final word. Alexandro Jodorowsky: "I am nothing. I have no merit. Something has spoken through me. I know nothing. I do." Cinephilia & Beyond

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