Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection (18) | Home Ents Review

Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mexico-US, 1968, 1970, 1973, 2019, 93/125/114/100 mins, in Spanish with subtitles

Cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Brontis Jodorowsky, Mara Lorenzio

Review by Colin Dibben

Fando y Lis, El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Psychomagic

Shamanic film-making of the highest order from Mexico’s answer to Federico Fellini and Luis Bunuel.

This set includes The Holy Mountain, one of the greatest films of the 1970s in a 4K restoration, as well as a much-loved cult western, also in 4K.

Plotwise, these films are all quest narratives of one sort or another. It is Jodorowsky’s visual styling that is truly jaw-dropping. The knack is evident from the get-go, in his debut, Fando y Lis, even if the film is merely an extended essay on the visual possibilities of mucking about in an old quarry.

Things crank up several notches with El Topo, often described as an “acid western”. A black-leather clad gunman (Jodorowsky), accompanied by his naked young son, seeks revenge on the banditos who killed his wife. In sorting them out, he meets a woman (Lorenzio) who goads him to seek out, challenge and kill four gunfighting masters. Thereby, making both himself and her look good, as after a slightly controversial rapey bit, he is her man.

It’s the set pieces that are strikingly set up and filmed, for example the desert stockade full of white rabbits, and the gypsum landscape with a river running through it. The last third of the film, in which the gunman turns up in a town with his new dwarf lover and clowns about, feels like a bit of a letdown visually speaking. However, it extends the allegorical element of the film, spelling out Jodorowsky’s pessimistic view of liberation when transplanted to the social realm.

Even El Topo cannot prepare the viewer for the sumptuous mindfuck of The Holy Mountain. Jodorowsky pulls out all the stops visually speaking, with a lot of expensive looking sets based on his reading of the Tarot.

A man called Thief (Salinas) seeks out a Master (Jodorowsky) to enlighten him. They enrol a team of wealthy fellow seekers to find the holy immortals who live at the top of the Holy Mountain. Suffice to say, almost every single shot here is astonishing: baroque, violent, exotic – and they have never looked better than after this 4K restoration.

Surprisingly, after all the lovely hocus pocus, The Holy Mountain ends with a practical admonition to ‘live life’ directed at the audience. No one can doubt the brilliance of El Topo and The Holy Mountain.

The question is whether you want to pay for the other stuff. I found Fando y Lis a bit arty and exasperating. I wasn’t convinced by Psychomagic, Jodorowsky’s new documentary on his own therapeutic practice. But if you want to see some more batshit crazy stuff, the film certainly does delivers.

For example, one of Jodorowsky’s clients/ patients pretends to castrate himself, then paints himself gold and runs around Paris in his underpants. Another dude is buried alive with his head sticking out, protected by a glass bowl; he watches while dozens of vultures eat rotting meat off the soil covering him. That kind of stuff.

On the other hand, you get the soundtracks for El Topo and The Holy Mountain. The latter is especially interesting, with its mix of chanting, psychedelia and jazz. It was for years very hard to find.

The 3 older films are all in new 4K restorations and high definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations. This is the Blu-ray premiere of Psychomagic.

Limited edition highlights include:

  • La Cravate, Jodorowsky’s compellingly surreal 1957 adaptation of Thomas Mann’s The Transposed Heads
  • La Constellation Jodorowsky, Louis Mouchet’s feature-length documentary featuring interviews with Jean ‘Mobieus’ Giraud and Peter Gabriel
  • El Topo film presentation in both 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 original theatrical aspect ratios for the first time
  • A Conversation with The Son of El Topo, a newly filmed, extensive interview with Brontis Jodorowsky who stars in El Topo
  • El Topo Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD
  • Pablo Leder: Jodorowsky’s Right Hand Man, Jodorowsky’s personal assistant remembers acting in El Topo and The Holy Mountain and his time spent with the director
  • The A to Z of The Holy Mountain, a new video essay by writer Ben Cobb
  • The Tarot, a short film in which Jodorowsky explains the secrets of the cards
  • The Holy Mountain Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD
  • Six collector’s postcards
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • Limited edition 80-page hardbound book featuring new writing on the films by Virginie Sélavy, Michael Atkinson, Bilge Ebiri, Mark Pilkington and archival articles

The Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection is out in a limited edition Blu-ray on 24 August 2020.