The Dance of Reality

June 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

After having just recently seen the documentary, “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” about director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempts to make his own fantastical film of the famous book, I felt compelled to this this, the first movie he has written and directed in almost 20 years. In this deeply personal story, Jodorowsky tells us of his own growing up as a Chilean Jew, caught between an autocratic and a-religious father and a smother and spiritual mother. To make clear how personal this story is, Jodorowsky’s father is played by his own son, Brontis, and the movie is filmed in the actual town he grew up. But, true to his reputation, Jodorowsky does not make a straight forward movie. Rather, he tries to get at a deeper, emotional truth about the confusion, isolation and pain he experienced as a child. The film works largely in metaphorical and phantasmagorical imagery that could be very off putting for someone wanting a more traditional narrative. Jodorowsky is also not afraid to shock and shows his penchant for the transgressive here in a way that would weaken the resolve of most American directors. More than once, I was made uncomfortable by what I saw on screen but I was always prompted to ask, “why this image?” “What is he trying to say here?” Jodorowsky’s skill is in never making me feel like any of the scenes (no matter how weird, shocking or silly they seemed) were gratuitous; every image seemed to be saying something important for him. At times, Jodorowsky appeared as himself, always right behind the boy who played his childhood self, speaking to us about the beauty and fragility of life. These moments made clear how personal this story is and how vulnerable Jodorowsky was being. They were often lyrical, insightful and touching. My one complaint is that, at 2 hours 10 minutes, it was about 30 minutes too long. I can imagine that every piece of the story felt critical to Jodorowsky to share but I began to lose focus toward the end and I think the film would have had more punch if he had shortened the long story of his father’s transformation. It’s a critical part of the whole but parts of that story could have been left off, I think. That aside, this was a strange and thrilling journey through what is possible when film defies the ordinary. I did not get all of what I saw on screen but I could see what he was trying to do and I respect him for it.

I have not done this before, but I also wanted to add this short featurette because it does a much better job than I can of capturing how deeply personal and touching this film is (even while being really strange):

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