El Topo (1970)

EL TOPO (1970)
Article 2053 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-28-2006
Posting Date: 3-27-2007
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Featuring Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Jose Legarreta

A man wanders the desert with a naked child. He deserts the child for a woman who urges him to find and defeat four masters in the desert.

This is one of those unique, personal, and somewhat abstract films that end up falling under the fantastic categories simply because the events are so bizarre that it ends up having fantastic elements almost by accident. In this case, some of the masters in the desert have supernatural powers, and the main character is able to draw water out of stones (just one of many religious references). It was the first movie to really gain fame as a midnight movie, and for this reason alone it is historically interesting.

Still, I find it a little difficult to cover movies like this. It’s too personal for me to really pretend that I understand it enough to make much in the way of meaningful commentary, and usually what I end up doing is giving my gut-level and personal reaction to it (which, given that the movie is very personal in the first place, makes it somehow appropriate). Somehow, I sense that this movie isn’t quite as complex and impenetrable as it might seem; certainly, the religious references seem like definite starting points for exploration. But as far as personal cinematic statements go, I don’t find it quite as compelling as some others I’ve seen; I think that I would be more likely to watch ERASERHEAD or THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS (both of which strike me as somewhat more unique and sincere) than this one. At heart, this movie feels like a combination of spaghetti western, samurai film and religious epic, and somehow the fact that those same elements can also lead you fairly close to the TV show “Kung Fu” makes it all seem a little less impressive. Still, I did find it a consistently interesting watch.



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