El Topo

Year 1970

Alejandro Jodorowsky   as   El Topo
Brontis Jodorowsky as El Topo's Young Son  
Robert John   as   El Topo's Grown Son
Director - Alejandro Jodorowsky
Screenwriter - Alejandro Jodorowsky  

For some reason, the pseudo-western El Topo, a movie in Spanish with English subtitles, gets high marks on IMDb. It has really bad things like diaglog, special effects, editing, and use of symbols. I'd like to say it has heart, but it doesn't. I'd like say that it's coherent, but it jumps around too much. The only thing keeping this from being in a lower category is that by the end of the movie I quit laughing at it.

There is sort of a plot to the movie. El Topo, which translates as "the mole", is the main character. He is seen with his son at the beginning of the movie on a quest to help his son reach manhood. Then, El Topo meets a girl, has to choose between the girl and his son, and literally kicks the son away from him. (There's nothing subtle in this movie.) The girl, of course, isn't happy with El Topo the way he is. So, she maneuvers him ("if you love me, you'll do it") into taking on the four master gunfighters in the area.

After he wins, she kills him with wounds like those of Christ. He dies and is resurrected sometime later. He tries to make ammends but this backfires and everybody dies including El Topo. The end.

According to Alejandro Jodorowsky, El Topo achieves enlightenment but commits an error. This is in keeping with the opening credits where it is stated that a mole searches for the sun but when he finds it, he is blinded.

Did you get that? El Topo, the mole, is blinded by enlightenment. This is the stuff you're going to have to put up with if you watch the movie.

After El Topo meets his girl, they go off together. El Topo performs miracles like getting water from stone after first praying and then shooting the stone. Really? There's a scene where his girl is off licking tree leaves. Seriously. It's supposed to symbolize the Garden of Eden and El Topo and the girl are Adam and Eve.

How does El Topo lose the girl? She's seduced by another woman with a man's voice. That other woman bested El Topo's girl in a rawhide whipping contest, so now they are lovers.

There's a lot of red or purple stuff in this movie that's supposed to be blood. It looks nothing like blood and it's almost funny that it's attempting to be passed off as such.

The movie shouldn't look cheesy, but it does. It's been remastered so the colors, such as they are, do not appear to be washed out. The colors are just off.

My favorite scene involves the third master gunfighter that El Topo has to face. Somehow, the third gunfighter has a rabbit farm in the middle of the dessert. As soon as El Topo arrives, the rabbits begin dying. Is El Topo killing off fecundity? Regardless, pretty soon the farm is littered with furry corpses. To me, it was amusing rather than sad. Then, after El Topo kills this third gunfighter, he buries him under the rabbit corpses which combust.

There is one other amusing scene where El Topo bangs his head against a wall and the whole building collapses. It's kind of funny in an eye-rolling kind of way.

One thing about Jodorowsky, he's a foot fetishist. One guy licks women's high heels, another guy kisses the feet of his mother, and there are other scenes involving foot worship. Maybe it's the foot fetishists who rate this movie so highly?

The special effects for a gunshot wound are of the type where the wound is prepared before the gun is fired and then the camera follows the possible path of the bullet and we see the prepared wound. It can make you dizzy.

There was an interview with Jodorowsky on the DVD. He seems like a nice enough guy. He mentioned that the best part of the movie for him was the fact that he got to have sex with the actresses. Sounds pretty much mired in the corporeal to me.

I guess it was a phenomenon in 1970. I never heard of it at the time. It's also supposed to be the Father of the Midnight Movie. Apparently, if you listen to Jodorowsky or read the blurb on the back of the DVD, there were no showings of movies at midnight prior to El Topo. I don't want to waste time proving or disproving this, but it let's you know the kind of hype (which is short for hyperbole) that accompanies this movie.

If you want to watch a clinic of nonsensical hyperbole, check out the movie's trailer on the DVD. I think that the narrator actually states the El Topo is the greatest movie ever made. Yikes!

The movie is so campy that it's hard to take seriously at all. But for some reason, call it numbness, about three-quarters of the way into the movie I quit making fun of it. It's quite nearly a very bad movie except for the fact that it's true to its own sense of purpose. Believe it or not, the movie has integrity. It doesn't have anything approaching pacing because scenes are inserted into places where Jodorowsky wants to make a point, regardless if it's appropriate to the bookended scenes, but it does have consistency of vision.

There's nudity, rape (which you can't take seriously), murder (with purple blood), a castration, flogging, midgets, and symbiotic amputees. The shock value is lost because it's all done so poorly. In fact, it's barely entertaining. Your life could easily be complete if you gave this one a miss. Chick flick potential? She must be able to say yes to one of the following.

Back to the "Torn and Frayed " list or the main movie list.