on a Dock (continued)
to Part One
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Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky
1957-1973 (2007) - Anchor Bay
And here it is at last... my personal holy grail film series on
DVD where it belongs. I've been waiting for this box set
for-ever. And it's finally here. Was it worth the wait?
Abso-frickin-lutely. I'm one happy fanboy right now, let me tell
Alejandro Jodorowsky is an artist; an artist who has chosen
film as one of his canvases. There aren't a whole lot of
filmmakers I would lump into this category. I mean, there are
plenty of great filmmakers whose work has become art through
cinema, but there are many filmmakers who aren't filmmakers an
all, simply artists who use celluloid as their medium.
of this, it's really hard to "review" Jodorowsky's work.
The best I can do is implore you to experience his films for
yourself. To that end, I will only guide you through this DVD set,
and give you a tour of its contents. Here's a look at what this
6-disc box set includes...
1957 (2007) - Anchor Bay
First up, La Cravate is a
short film very loosely based on the story The
Transposed Heads by Thomas Mann, that shows
Jodorowsky where he began as an artist - specifically, as a
mime. This is a film version of a play he wrote previously,
which shows a mild-mannered man (played by Jodorowsky himself)
who goes to a special shop where you can get your head replaced
with a new one. You would think there's more being said about
the duality of mind and body with this concept, but in the end,
I believe it was just a great concept for mime play, because you
get to perform your body in different ways ("Hey look, I'm
a burly thug now! Whoops, I'm back to being meek.")
Once thought to be lost, with hope of ever finding it long
given up on, the negative of La
Cravate was recently discovered. As a result, it now
serves as a fun little stand-alone supplement to the other films
in this set. It's an enjoyable curiosity piece, well worth
DVD's video and audio quality is good, but it does betray signs of
age and the film's lack of budget. Shot in 16mm with a Dolby Digital
2.0 mono score, the presentation here still does its job. There are
1968 (2007) - Anchor Bay
Jodorowsky's feature length directorial debut is based on a
play by fellow surrealist filmmaker Fernando Arrabal (you can
read my review of Arrabal's Viva La
Fando follows a pair of
lovers (an impotent and passionately violent Fando and his
paraplegic girlfriend Lis) on a journey through a symbolic
wasteland, looking for a mythical city and then coming in
contact with a cast of weird and wacky characters. The film is
most noteworthy for causing a full scale riot at the 1968
Acapulco Film Festival, where it premiered. It's not an
especially good film. Fando
is heavy handed, clichéd and, in some cases, pointless.
But it's certainly an interesting cinematic debut nonetheless.
released by Fantoma a few years back, this version of Fando
on DVD differs not a bit, including the original disc's lack of
anamorphic enhancement. The video transfer still looks good, though.
It's slightly improved over the original release, although I'm not
sure if it's a new transfer or just a new digital remastering of the
previous transfer. Sound is presented in Dolby Digital mono, in the
original Spanish only.
The extras are ported over from the original DVD release, and
include the heavily accented commentary with Jodorowsky, as well as
the stellar feature length documentary La
Constellation Jodorowsky which explores the man, his art,
his friends and his failed attempt to bring us Frank Herbert's Dune
(which makes this DVD well worth checking out all by itself).
1970 (2007) - Anchor Bay
Alright, so here's the first of the two films in this set that
have me all excited. And you know what? I don't really want to
say too much about the film, except that I'll go out on a limb
and just tell you... you have to see El
Topo; all of you who are reading this. It's
important. It's a major milestone in cinema, and it should be
part of every film lover's collection - both physical and
mental. On the surface, El Topo
is a surreal western. Except that it's not. Really, it's not.
It's Jodorowsky's journey as an artist. It's a biography told in
We begin with him as a man, taking his son and making him throw
away his childhood. He then goes on a journey where he first
destroys the memory of his own father and then dedicates himself
to learning about religion, spiritualism and mysticism. Along
the way, he learns he has no respect for women, so much so that
even his feminine side, when manifest, is no kinder. So he
dedicates himself to his life, his art and a woman who needs
out in the world, giving of himself, he sees a world that is dirty,
shallow and filled with religious contempt. And it's all too much.
El Topo is mesmerizing. It's
just a wonderful piece of cinema. It's brain candy, yes... so don't
expect a fun-filled romp. But if you love movies as art, and look
for inspiration through the experience of handing yourself over to
something, El Topo is one of
the greatest ways to do so. I love this film.
El Topo is presented in its
original full frame on disc, and it looks great. The colors are
bright, the blacks are solid and the film overall looks leaps and
bounds better than the pirated versions that have floated around on
tape and disc for years. The sound is also quite good, given to us
in Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 as well as an English dub in
The extras are quite fun and very informative. The most important
one is the commentary with Jodorowsky, where he breaks the film all
down for you. There's philosophy, religious discussion, talk of the
biographical elements he brought to the film - just about everything
you need to know about the film and its wonderful history is here.
Do yourself a favor: The minute you finish watching the film, turn
right around and watch it again with Jodorowsky talking you through
it. Also on board here is a short interview with Jodorowsky (shot
recently). A lot of what he discusses in the commentary pops up
here, but to see him saying it is a joy. I hope I get to meet this
man someday. You'll also a find the original trailer and a very
poorly executed interactive script and still library, that serve no
useful purpose as you can't read anything and it zooms in and out of
the images so you can't get any idea what you're looking at anyway.
This is but a small strike against what is an otherwise great
Finally, fans will be pleased to learn that you also get the
soundtrack CD for this film in the box set, packed separately in its
1973 (2007) - Anchor Bay
As the other big title in this set, The
Holy Mountain is a companion piece to El
Topo, but has nothing really to do with the earlier
film at all. Both are epic tales, both have more going on than
meets the eye, and both are symbolic journeys. Holy
Mountain is symbolically based in religious
mythology, astrology and the tarot. Some of this is quite
obvious (the Jesus stuff), while other things here will need to
be explained a bit. But like El Topo,
the best tour guide for the film is Jodorowsky himself, present
in the form of another stupendous commentary track. But I'm
getting ahead of myself.
Though I love Holy Mountain,
I'm not as big a fan of this film as I am of El
Topo. Holy Mountain
is a great piece of cinema, but it's a bit heavy handed in
places and the acting is a bit stiff here and there. Still,
you'll learn that's something Jodorowsky intended, as he has
real people playing their types and not actors. You'll have to
watch the film to understand what I'm talking about. Honestly,
Holy Mountain is just one
of those films where experiencing is much better than listening
to some moron like me go on and on about it.
video is presented in anamorphic widescreen and it looks wonderful.
The sound is English in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Extras begin with
the above referenced commentary. Like El
Topo, you really should watch the film once and then
again with the commentary to get the full blown experience. There's
also a short documentary of sorts about the tarot,
narrated/explained by Jodorowsky, who is considered an expert in the
field. You also get the film's trailer, a short restoration
demonstration that's quite enlightening and another
barely-functional script/stills waste of time (it's a shame, but
shouldn't hurt your enjoyment of the disc any). Finally, like El
Topo, you also get a separately packaged soundtrack CD
for this film in the box set.
I said it before, and I'll say it again - do yourself a favor and
just go pick The Films of Alejandro
Jodorowsky up. So many people complain that there are no
great films coming to DVD anymore, and yet here is a great example
that proves that there's still plenty of gems left to release on
disc. Now my only problem is, I have to figure out what my NEXT
unreleased and most wanted grail title is...
Yeah, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.
That's it for this time. Keep spinning those discs!
Atlanta, GA 5/29/07
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