EPISODE FOUR: JODOROWSKY – A JOURNEY INTO LAS PECULIAS DE PANICA (PART 1)
Over the next five installments I will be writing about the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the impact they have had on the world. At times I may digress in order to discuss other odd subjects related to this topic, but I hope you will become a fellow pilgrim on my journey and enjoy the ride. Now that the ritual has begun, let us commence the ceremony and release the madness within our souls.
LA CRAVATE (1957)
Jodorowsky’s first film was a short based on the mime scene with which he was involved at the time. It centers on a shop where you can change your body, and the director himself plays the lead role of a man who does just such a thing in order to impress his lady love. This is a slight movie and the only filmed performance of any of Jodorowsky’s mime routines of which I am aware. It was produced during a period of time when the director was working with famed mime Maurice Marceau and it fully showcases his love of the art.
For many years this film was thought lost until a copy turned up in a garage. It is part of the Jodorowsky collection which Anchor Bay still has in print and is a good find for fans of the director. I can’t, however, recommend it to newcomers as they may find it confusing.
FANDO Y LIS (1968)
When this film premiered at the 1968 Acapulco Film Festival, the first screening erupted into a riot. Jodorowsky had to leave the theatre by sneaking outside to a waiting limousine. When the crowd outside the theatre recognized him, the car was pelted with rocks. The following week, the film opened to sell-out crowds in Mexico City, but fights broke out in the audience and the film was banned by the Mexican government. Jodorowsky himself was nearly deported and the scandal provided much fodder for the Mexican newspapers. What a way to start a filmmaking career, eh?
This movie, about a couple and their failed search for the magical city of Tar, is based on a dream the director had about a play he remembered from his youth. Thus, it is told like a dream and is filled with dreamlike images. This may be the most pure of Jodorowsky’s surrealist films. It’s basically just a bunch of unconnected images; there’s really no plot to take us from Point A to Point B, and the characters’ reactions to one another and their surroundings changes from scene to scene.
This was another lost film until the Fantomas DVD touched down in the early 2000s. Now, it too, is part of the Jodorowsky collection. If you’re a fan of the director and/or pure surrealism, you’ll likely consider this a masterpiece. What you won’t find here is the heavy religious content which filled the director’s later work. Still, Fando Y Lis is a journey worth taking at least once.
I hope you enjoyed the first part of our journey and I hope you’ll continue to follow along because it only gets better from here.
Stay enlightened, Steve
Steven Ronquillo is a writer who has been mesmerized by the glow of the projector’s bulb since he was El Niño.