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Limited edition Alejandro Jodorowsky ‘El Topo’ figurine
10:45 am


Alejandro Jodorowsky
El Topo

For a certain type of person, the announcement of four figurines based on characters from the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky—and created in consultation with the director himself—will be cause for much fanboy and fangirl rejoicing. If you are the significant other of one of these certain types of people, then this is the part where you cross them off your Christmas list, he wrote chuckling to himself, knowing fully well that his own wife would be reading this post…(!)

With pre-orders starting this Friday, October 21, ABKCO Films and Unbox Industries are unleashing the first in a series of licensed limited edition figurines based on the work of Jodorowsky, specifically characters from his films El Topo and Holy Mountain:

The first figure released is El Topo (“The Mole”) from the landmark cult film of the same name that began the Midnight Movie phenomena of the counterculture 1970s.  Classic Americana and avant-garde European sensibilities meet Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and cosmic mystic El Topo, played by Jodorowsky, must defeat his four sharp shooting rivals on an ever increasing path to allegorical self-enlightenment and surreal resurrection. The statue, made of polystone, a full 14 inches in height and distress brown in color, features exquisite detail and is packaged in a specially crafted wood embossed box. Each piece bears the replica signature of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The highly respected sculptor Andrea Blasich worked closely with ABKCO and Jodorowsky to ensure the figurines are as realistic as possible to their characters from the films.

As you can see, it looks very nice.

Unbox Industries will be releasing future figurines based on Jodorowsky’s 1973 masterpiece The Holy Mountain later this year and in 2017. I doubt they’ll do this, but imagine what it would be like if they did the famous Christ statue from the film and you obtained dozens of them for display in your own home. It would be expensive, sure, but just think how impressed the guy reading the gas meter would be!

Pre-order yours from the Unbox Industries website.


More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Zarathustra,’ the avant-folk soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 Nietzsche adaptation

In 1970, Alejandro Jodorowsky brought his adaptation of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the stage in Mexico City. A creation for its time and place, Jodorowsky’s Zarathustra was a play for four men (A, B, C, and Zarathustra) and two women (D and E), all (eventually) nude on a bare, white stage. The script indicated that the actors were to stand at the entrance of the theater and talk with the audience before the action began; Jodorowsky’s Zen master, the monk Ejo Takata, sat on stage meditating for the two-hour duration of the performance.

As the director recounts in The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, the staging of the production—called Zaratustra in Spanish—reflected his ongoing Zen practice:

My ambitions were becoming centered on the theater. Nevertheless, Ejo Takata’s teachings—to be instead of to seem, to live simply, to practice the teaching instead of merely reciting it, and knowing that the words we use to describe the world are not the world—had profoundly changed my vision of what theater should be. In my upcoming production, a theatrical version of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, I had stripped the stage of its usual décor, including even curtains and ropes, and had the walls painted white. Defying censorship, the actors and actresses undressed completely on stage after reciting lines from the Gospel of Thomas: “The disciples asked him: ‘When will you be revealed, and when will we be able to see you?’ And Jesus said: ‘When you shed your clothing without shame, and when you take your jewels and cast them under your feet and trample them like little children, then will you be able to contemplate the Son of the Living One and have no more fear.’”

The production was a success, with full houses from Tuesday through Sunday. I then proposed to Ejo (without much hope) that he meditate before the public during the performance. To my astonishment, the master accepted. He arrived punctually, took his seat on the side of the stage, and meditated without moving for two hours. The contrast between the actors speaking their lines and the silent monk dressed in his ritual robes had a staggering effect. Zarathustra continued to run for a full year and a half.


Standing: Henry West, Brontis Jodorowsky, Héctor Bonilla, Micky Salas, Carlos Ancira, Isela Vega, Jorge Luke and Alvaro Carcaño. Sitting: Luis Urías, Valerie Jodorowsky (pregnant with Teo), Carlos (nicknamed “the hairy guy”), Alejandro Jodorowsky, Cristobal Jodorowsky and Susana Kamini.
So far as I know, you can’t watch a performance of Zarathustra on the web, but below, you can listen to the soundtrack LP recorded by the cast and the band Las Damas Chinas (Chinese Checkers), and if you open this link in another window, you can follow along in the script. Digital copies of the soundtrack are available from Paniques Records. It is, of course, entirely in Spanish, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone. These words from D’s song ring out in a universal tongue:

¡Mis piernas, mis dedos, mis pelos,
AAAmoor. . .!
Mi saliva, mi excremento, mi corazón. . .

(Translation: “My legs, my fingers, my hairs / Looove. . .! / My saliva, my shit, my heart   . . .”)

While we’re on the subject of Alejandro Jodorowsky, don’t forget to give your money to the Indiegogo campaign for his upcoming feature Poesía Sin Fin (Endless Poetry). If you choose the “poetic money” perk, he’ll pay you back in bills of his own magical currency. Jodorowsky’s life and work are always cause for celebration.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘The Key to Immortal Consciousness’: The 82 Commandments of Alejandro Jodorowsky
04:10 pm


Alejandro Jodorowsky

We’ve posted here before Captain Beefheart’s 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing, but this list of the eighty-two “commandments” of the great film director Alejandro Jodorowsky makes that look like a fortune cookie.

In the book The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, the author describes meeting Reyna d’Assia, daughter of the influential spiritual teacher George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, who was quite prominent in the early part of the 20th century and died in 1949, when Jodorowsky was 20 years old. (It is interesting to note that Wikipedia does not list Reyna d’Assia as one of Gurdjieff’s “known natural children,” of which Wikipedia lists seven.) Among Gurdjieff’s fans were such DM faves as Robert Fripp, Kate Bush, Keith Jarrett, and Timothy Leary.

Collin Cleary’s account of this section of the book is well worth reading. He calls this chapter, “Work on the Essence,” the “highpoint” of the book, saying that it simultaneously “comes quite close in many places to being pornographic” and “is also probably the best brief account—and critique—of the ideas of Gurdjieff that I have ever come across.” Based on what I read of this chapter, Jodorowsky’s writing (and possibly Reyna d’Assia’s way of speaking) sounds a lot like the dialogue in a Jodorowsky movie.

Jodorowsky and Reyna d’Assia met in Mexico City after a screening of El Topo, at which, for some reason, Jodorowsky was wearing the outfit of the mole character he plays in the movie. They went back to her hotel, where they had sex, with Jodorowsky still wearing the black leather cowboy outfit.

Alejandro Jodorowsky and George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

According to Cleary, Reyna “never stops talking.” In one torrent of verbiage she discloses her father’s maxims of life. Here is the exchange that leads up to her list:

Jodorowsky: Reyna, you are telling me fairy tales! Such goals are 100% utopian—and even if they were true, what is the first step on this path?

Reyna d’Assia: Whoever wishes to attain the supreme goal must first change his habits, conquer laziness, and become a morally sound human being. To be strong in the great things, we must also be strong in the small ones.

Jodorowsky: How?

Reyna d’Assia: We have been badly educated. We live in a world of competition in which honesty is synonymous with naïveté. We must first develop good habits. Some of them may seem simple, but they are very difficult to realize. Believing them to be obvious, we fail to see that they are the key to immortal consciousness. Now I shall offer you a dictation of the commandments that my blessed father taught me….

Then comes her list of commandments. In the way of natural speech, it is (of course) not set up like a list—in fact, it looks like this. The whole thing takes up the better part of three pages.

In what follows we have formatted it so that it is easier to read.

1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
2. Always finish what you have begun.
3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
5. Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.
6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
7. Organize what you have disorganized.
8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
9. Stop defining yourself.
10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
14. Do not take up too much space.
15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
19. Share fairly.
20. Do not seduce.
21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
23. Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
24. Do not establish useless friendships.
25. Do not follow fashions.
26. Do not sell yourself.
27. Respect contracts you have signed.
28. Be on time.
29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
30. Say no more than necessary.
31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
32. Never threaten anyone.
33. Keep your promises.
34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
38. Help others to help themselves.
39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
41. Transform your pride into dignity.
42. Transform your anger into creativity.
43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
45. Transform your hate into charity.
46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
48. Do not complain.
49. Develop your imagination.
50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
51. Pay for services performed for you.
52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
60. Do not keep useless objects.
61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
77. Live on money you have earned.
78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
81. Obtain things in order to share them.
82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.


via The Arcane Front

Thanks to Lawrence Daniel Caswell!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Mind-bogglingly awesome sketches for Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune’—done in his own hand?

John Coulthart at his blog {feuilleton} has discovered an absolutely marvelous find that is currently on eBay. There is an auction that ends in a few days with the intriguing title “Alejandro Jodorowsky’s DUNE Script EARLY DRAFT? Giger ILLUSTRATED Original Art.”

Yes, that’s right. It appears to be a full script for Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s Dune, however, “It is NOT the ‘phone book size’ script as seen in the documentary ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune,’ but appears to be an earlier/shorter version. There are about 300 pages in total, including illustrations.” At present there have been 15 bids on the script, and the price is at $710.

For those who don’t know, in the 1970s there was a concerted effort to bring to the screen an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi mega-bestseller Dune. In 1984, of course, an adaptation by David Lynch was released; while it’s a remarkable piece of work, that version is widely seen as a failure. In 2013 Frank Pavich’s movie Jodorowsky’s Dune documented the abortive first attempt to make the movie.

Here’s the cover of the script, as well as the title page:


Despite the title of the auction, the description indicates that the images “do NOT appear to be by Jean Giraud/Moebius, or Giger, but by an unknown artist.” Certainly at a glance they seem completely dissimilar from all of Giger‘s known output; I am a little less certain in the case of Moebius, but probably more dissimilar than similar. Coulthart convincingly suggests that the drawings are by Jodorowsky himself (interestingly, the eBay seller does not venture a guess), pointing to his 1967 comic Fabulas Panicas. Here’s Coulthart:

No artist is credited but the naive style rules out both Moebius and HR Giger (who arrived late to the project in any case). Best bet is either Jodorowsky himself—in 1967 he was writing and illustrating a comic strip, Fabulas Panicas—or Jodorowsky’s colleague from the Panic Movement days, Roland Topor. In the early 70s Topor was working with René Laloux on the animated SF film Fantastic Planet.

Many of the conceptions differ radically from the more graceful designs that Moebius produced later on. Also of note are details such as the anal entrance to the Emperor’s throne room, a Harkonnen orgy and an insemination scene viewed from inside Jessica’s vagina. By the time Giger joined the production team the instruction was not to create anything too erotic or adult since the film needed to reach a large audience.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A human Tarot comes to life in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘The Dance of Reality’
12:11 pm


Alejandro Jodorowsky

There are those who make film for money. There are others that make film for the adventure or ego of it all. But then there is the most special kind of filmmaker—the true artist. That rare kind of maverick who is so driven by total, unsullied heart, soul and vision that such mainstream cinema conceits like compromise and whoredom are completely out of the question. These are the artists that truly love us because they respect us enough to never lie, never condescend and never ever play you for a fool. There is no living filmmaker today that defines all of this and more better than Alejandro Jodorowsky.

With a body of work that ranges from the literally riot-inducing feature film debut of Fando Y Lis (1968), the visceral yet spiritual El Topo (1970), the esoteric masterwork that is The Holy Mountain (1973) and the most heart searing film based on a real serial killer, Santa Sangre (1989), Jodorowsky’s major films are some of the purest and wholly unique contributions to cinema. That’s not even mentioning his status as one of the founders of the legendary Panic Movement or his comic book collaborations with the late, great artist Moebius. Now 85 years old, the easiest thing for Jodorowsky to have done was to rest on his laurels and bask in the light of past achievement. But true artists and warriors never rest. In fact, they don’t even know what the word means and after years of planting assorted cinematic seeds that have not borne any fruit yet, such as his scripts for King Shot and Son of El Topo, one finally did. (Lucky for us!)
Masked audience at the Circus
La Danza de la Realidad aka The Dance of Reality is Jodorowsky’s first feature film since Santa Sangre, almost 25 years ago. Time has only given the already instinctive director a deeper sense of the multitude of layers that make up the human condition. Even more striking is that it is his own personal human condition, as well as that of his family, that he explores here. The film opens with the imagery of money, blood and news. Jodorowsky’s voice comes in, saying “Money is like Christ. It blesses you if you share it. Money enlightens those who use it to open the flower of the world and damn those that glorify it.”

A circus tent comes into view. Young Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits) arrives with his father, Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky). They are greeted by two bizarre and cheeky clowns, who gently badger Jaime into first, climbing a rope, then bare fist fighting, all by basically challenging his masculinity. Alejandro is frightened and ends up running away to his father’s store, the Casa Ukrania. Outside is a little person dressed up as a devil, taking the carny barker route for advertising. He is greeted by this songbird built like Gaia, singing “Alejandrito!” This is his mother, Sara (Pamela Flores).
Queen of Cups comforts Young Alejandro
Alejandro runs to the beach and encounters the Queen of Cups, who tries to calm the child, who is throwing stones at the ocean. He is warned that “a single stone can kill all the fish.” In one of the most startling visuals in the whole film, this very thing happens as the beach is flooded with dead fish. The Queen is upset and yet the villagers are happy with this excess of food, even playing and throwing the little fish bodies around.

Grown up Alejandro appears and comforts his younger self, adding a sense of personal guidance to a child lost in a world of an over-masculine father, a mother whose is always one-two stepping away from reality and a landscape where the working man, in this case coal miners, are treated as thoroughly disposable by those in power. In fact, there is actually a scene where the police round up a group of protesting ex-miners, who have been forced to live on the streets after losing assorted limbs resulting from work-related accidents. One of the officials says, “Take them to the rubbish dump.” This is how the damaged working class was treated and really, things are not that different now.
The wounded and amputee ex-Miners
Midway the film switches from little Alajandrito’s journey to that of Jaime, his father. Most filmmakers would have not made such a bold move and most definitely would have not have had the intuitive insight to show such a strong character’s duality. In fact, duality is something that Jodorowsky has always had the testicular creative fortitude to explore. In a cinematic landscape often built on bold strokes of black and white, Jodorowsky from Fando y Lis onwards has full on explored the various shades of gray with his characters. Which is brilliant. Someone may be harsh bordering on abusive to their son and wife, but there are layers underneath that. There’s heart, there are personal demons and there is the light for redemption.

The Dance of Reality
is a one of the most intelligent films to have emerged in a very long time. It’s not just intellectually “smart,” but also visually and emotionally deep as well. Jodorowsky has managed to create this intricate, patchwork quilt of a story—his own story—and give you an experience that is at times surreal, other times brutal and beautiful and a 100% honest. There are zero false moves here.
The Two Alejandros
The way he approaches the story of both his childhood and his parents is fascinating. For anyone familiar with European filmmaker Louis Mouchet’s excellent 1994 documentary, La Constellation Jodorowsky, some of this technique will feel instantly familiar. In La Constellation, you see Jodorowsky build a human tarot deck. Think less divination and more of a therapeutic “psychodrama” technique that utilizes the tarot as a means to reveal facets about your family, your past and yourself. That brief description does not truly do this justice, but The Dance of Reality has a feel that this is Jodorowsky using the medium of cinema to conduct his own personal human tarot reading.

All of the players in the film are pitch perfect, with his son Brontis completely embodying the role of Jaime to the extent that you truly feel like you are watching his grandfather, as opposed to watching Jaime’s grandson mimic him. He pulls off and peels off the assortment of layers that this man has, seeing him evolve from one who wounds to a wounded man to something more transcendent. It’s a supremely strong performance. Anyone seeing interviews with Brontis, who comes across as very soft spoken and sensitive will be very shocked to see him here. You are seeing two completely different people and if that is not a testament to a great performance, I don’t know what is. The rest of the cast are great too, with Herskovitz doing an admirable job as young Alajandrito and Pamela Flores making a striking impression as his musical, magical and dysfunctional mother.

The phrase “cinema magic” is one whose power has faded from years of overuse and bad application. The Dance of Reality is the perfect film to re-infuse that tried and now true-again phrase. The magic of movie making vibrates with every frame of this film from one of the last truly innovative film maverick masters alive. Every movie lover worth his and her salt should have a little altar in their heart for Alejandro Jodorowsky. 

The Dance of Reality opens in select theaters beginning May 23

Photos via “Le Soleil Films” Chile; “Camera One” France 2013; Pathe; Courtesy of ABKCO La Danza, LLC

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
‘The Dance Of Reality’: First look at new film from Alejandro Jodorowsky
07:04 pm


Alejandro Jodorowsky

Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw called La Danza de la Realidad (“The Dance Of Reality”), Chilean cinematic trickster Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first film in 23 years, “a triumphant return, which mixes autobiography, politics, torture and fantasy to exuberant, moving effect.”

La Danza de la Realidad was shot in Jodorowsky’s hometown of Tocopilla, deep in the Chilean desert. The film, which premiered at Cannes tells the story, sort of, of the his Communist father, Jaime Jodorowsky, with whom the director obviously had a very complex relationship:

Of course, the entire story is swathed in surreal mythology, dream logic and instant day-glo legend, resembling Fellini, Tod Browning, Emir Kusturica, and many more. You can’t be sure how to extract conventional autobiography from this. Despite the title, there is more “dance” than “reality” — and that is the point. Or part of the point. For the first time, Jodorowsky is coming close to telling us how personal evasiveness has governed his film-making style; his flights of fancy are flights of pain, flights from childhood and flights from reality. And now he is using his transformative style to come to terms with and change the past and to confer on his father some of the heroism that he never attained in real life.

As a child, young Alejandro is played by Jeremias Herskowits, and as an old man by the director himself, who cuts a distinguished, Haneke-like figure with his white hair and trimmed beard. His father Jaime is played by the director’s son Brontis Jodorowsky, which lends the project an intriguingly Freudian flavour. (Until this moment, I thought the scene in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom in which the director dropped creepy-crawlies on his son’s pillow was the roughest father-son moment in cinema. But here Jodorowsky films a scene in which Jaime is tortured by the state police, and a naked Brontis Jodorowsky has electrodes attached to his testicles in full camera view. Ouch.)

Cannes 2013: La Danza de la Realidad (The Dance Of Reality) - first look review (The Guardian)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Alejandro Jodorowsky is bestowed the title of ‘Grand Rectum’ by a University of Fools
03:29 am


Alejandro Jodorowsky

In March of 2011, Alejandro Jodorowsky traveled to Montreal, Canada to receive the exalted title of Grand Rectum from the University Of Foulosphie. In his honor, local artists paid homage to his extraordinary career as a provocateur, seer, shaman and subversive. Filmmakers and writers François Gourd and Matthieu Bouchard documented the week-long tribute to Jodorowsky, which included theatrical events and happenings celebrating Jodorowsky’s surrealistic mind-fucks: the Panique theater, El Topo, The Holy Mountain and his adept skills in using Tarot cards in the service of healing deeply fucked up people, of which many of us would qualify.

The grand old man still packs heat and his aim is as pitilessly precise as ever. I have very few heroes that still command my respect. Jodorowsky is one of the few still standing.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Nice poster for documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune’
10:55 am


Alejandro Jodorowsky

Designer Kilian Eng made this lovely poster—released by Mondo—for the upcoming documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune.

Below, Alejandro Jodorowsky discusses his ill-fated Dune:

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Melodrama Sacramental’

In the early 1960s, Alejandro Jodorowsky, in collaboration with Fernando Arrabal and Roland Topor, produced theatrical happenings that were part Grand Guignol, part Theater Of Cruelty and, in the case of splatterfests like Melodrama Sacramental, something like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on peyote. Calling themselves the Panic Movement, the three provocateurs attempted to shatter the fourth wall with more than just words and gestures - they were going for something more visceral: blood and guts - anything to close the distance between spectacle and spectator and to wake and alert the audience to the suffering, inequality and untruths engulfing them in this modern world gone mad. Yes, life stinks and so should art. The Panic Movement put the “fart” in artsy fartsy - a steaming turd in the cosmic punchbowl.

Jodorowsky and company’s sacramental melodrama was staged in Paris, May of 1965, the same month and year that the largest Vietnam teach-in was held (May 21–23, 1965) at UC Berkeley, one of the seminal events in the history of the American anti-war movement, the first rumblings of a protest movement against the Vietnam war that would grow to a deafening roar. Was Jodorowsky’s “happening”  also a a mirroring of the savagery of war and a metaphor for the lives being sacrificed in Vietnam? Were the prophets of peace in synch and sending signals to each other from two epicenters of radical change?

In Melodrama Sacramental we see images that would be repeated in Jodorowsky’s epic mindfucker El Topo, another nightmare ode to man’s inhumanity to man.

On the soundtrack we hear Allen Ginsberg reading from his poem “Lysergic Acid,” written in San Francisco in 1959.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rise of the Dolls Festival: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s creepy dolls

Creepy, but awesome dolls made by Alejandro Jodorowsky on display at the “Happily Ever After” exhibit during the second annual “Rise of the Dolls Festival.”

The festival was held in the amphitheater of the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile on May 24, under the direction of Jaime Lorca.
Via UPI and with thanks to Franco!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Hopper birthday, Dennis: ‘The American Dreamer’

Dennis Hopper’s DUI mugshot.
Happy birthday Dennis Hopper. You were one of the great mad geniuses of American pop culture.

During the Sixties Taos was a rural hippie Mecca. Communes like New Buffalo, Reality Construction Company and The Hog Farm popped up around this Northern New Mexican town like ‘shrooms in a field of cow pies. In 1969 I spent a few weeks at the Lama Foundation, a commune 20 miles outside Taos, where I lived in a small A-frame and spent most my time reading books and staring off into the endless New Mexico sky. This quiet mountain area was propelled into the national consciousness when Dennis Hopper shot footage in the vicinity of Taos for Easy Rider. It kind of changed things forever. Taos went from being a low key destination to a center for hippie tourism. The locals hated it.

I moved back to Taos in 2002 and lived there for seven years. The legacy of Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider still color the town and what was once seen as an intrusion by a bunch of Hollywood hipsters has now become an honorable part of the town’s history.

Hopper ended up living in Taos for a short time. He bought the historic Mabel Dodge Lujan house and the El Cortez movie theater in 1970. Throughout his life, Hopper would return to Taos. He was made honorary Mayor of the town and is buried in Jesus Nazareno Cemetery, Ranchos de Taos.

It was in Taos that Hopper struggled with his follow-up film to Easy Rider, the misunderstood, flawed, masterpiece The Last Movie. Hopper practically lost his mind (some say he did lose it) while trying to edit the film into a commercially viable product. He spent a year doing so and the end result was both a critical and commercial disaster.

I saw The Last Movie when it was released in 1971. I found it an amazing head film that rivaled Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo for sheer mind-blowing brilliance. But my first viewing was enhanced by some Nepalese finger hash and subsequent small screen viewings of the movie haven’t been quite as psychedelically satisfying.

While Hopper was madly trying to edit The Last Movie, he called upon the help of Jodorowsky and the Chilean brujo went to Taos to offer his insight.

In a 2008 interview with Damien Love, Jodorowsky discussed the Taos experience:

I had showed El Topo privately around the studios, I showed it to Metro Golden Mayer, Universal. And, all the time, the people at the screenings were enthusiastic, but then, when the salesmen came along, they would say, “We don’t know to sell this picture.” And Dennis Hopper was at one of these private shows, and he liked El Topo a lot. And so he invited me to come to Taos. And in Taos, he had four or six editing machines and twelve editors working. At that time, he didn’t know what to with The Last Movie. And I saw the material, I thought it was a fantastic story. And I said, “I can help.” I was there for two days, and in two days I edited the picture. I think I made it very good. I liked it. But when he went to show it to Hollywood, they didn’t want it, because by then he was in conflict with them. Later, I think that Dennis Hopper decided that he couldn’t use my edit, because he needed to do it himself. And so he destroyed what I did, and I don’t know what he did with it later. I never told that to anybody through the years, but I am sure that if, one day, they found my edit, it was fantastic. Because the material was fantastic. I took out everything that was too much like a love story or too much Marxist politics. For me it was one of the greatest pictures I have ever seen. It was so beautiful, so different. I don’t know what it is like now, how it has been edited, the final thing, I don’t know if he conserved anything of mine. But it was a fantastic film. One thing I do remember from back then, though, was how strong the smell of Dennis Hopper’s underarm perspiration was. It was so strong, and one day — he had I think ten women there — and I put everyone in a line in order for them to smell the perfume of Dennis Hopper. Because he never changed his shirt, for days upon days. He smelled very strong. That I remember.

My good friend Bill Whaley, who has been a seminal part of Taos’s art culture since the 1960’s, wrote about his encounters with Hopper around this time in local paper The Horsefly, of which Whaley was the publisher. Here’s Bill’s account of first seeing The Last Movie at a private screening in Taos and a rumination on what Hopper was going through while editing the movie.

If I’m not mistaken, El Topo was first shown at El Cortez Theatre in Rachos de Taos, Dec. 13, 1970. At the time, I managed the theater for Dennis Hopper. Then he was still editing The Last Movie at the Mabel Dodge House. The latter was about four to six hours in length. David or Dennis or perhaps Diana Schwab, David’s secretary phoned me and asked me to arrange for a special screening of a film on Sunday afternoon, which turned out to be El Topo. After watching El Topo, which blew everyone’s mind, we watched the rough version of The Last Movie. That evening, we showed the regularly scheduled feature: Fellini’s Satyricon. My mind was deluged by too many images. I never recovered. Due to its complex themes and brilliant cinematography, I remember thinking that Dennis might turn out to be the next American Fellini if he could edit The Last Movie with some sense of its mimetic qualities. That promise remained unrealized.

In Taos, the real Dennis Hopper appeared to get all mixed up with the artistic conceit or character represented up there on the screen of The Last Movie. Whether due to the demons or stimulants that dominated his psyche, he had committed himself to a course of action that ultimately undermined his project. As Dennis edited The Last Movie he appeared to call on the same techniques of personal emotion that a method actor uses as inspiration, but this time employed to cut the film. Somewhere in the cross over between film and life, Dennis appeared to lose access to the rational faculties and objective reality that are also a necessary part of life and the artistic process–at least in terms of the conventions of story telling and a semblance of acceptable behavior.”

Hopper stories in Taos are legend. He could be a loud-mouthed, gun-toting drunk - he showed up hammered at a city council meeting toting a shotgun - who tried to fuck every flower child that moved (foreshadowing Frank Booth). He could also be a gentle, stoned philosopher who appreciated the deep spiritual aura radiating from the magnificent Sangre de Cristo mountain range that towered over Taos like great stone gods. He hung out with artists and hippies and did his damnedest to support the local culture. But in a small town where locals have trouble accepting outsiders, Hopper may have been too much of shit stirrer, too big of a presence and too batshit crazy, even for the open-air madhouse that is Taos.

Locals claim that Taos Mountain will steal a piece of your soul so that you must stay in order to feel whole or the mountain will ultimately reject you, sending you on your way. With Hopper, the mountain did a little of both. Ultimately, it accepted him…or else one day he’s gonna crawl out of his grave and come raging into town with shotgun barrel blazing.

In L.M. (Kit) Carson’s 1971 documentary The American Dreamer we follow Hopper as he struggles with the film making process, hot tubs with groupies, rambles, pontificates, mindfucks, and gradually goes gloriously mad while wrestling with celluloid and the visions in his ever-expanding brain.

For more of Bill Whaley’s tales of Dennis Hopper in Taos, visit The Horsefly archives.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Jodorowsky’s ‘March of the Skulls’: Collective Psychomagic in Mexico

Late last month in Mexico City, Alejandro Jodorowsky organized the “March of the Skulls” to disperse negative energy caused by the death toll of the nation’s drug war. Nearly 40,000 Mexicans have died drug war related deaths in the past five years. The advance billing for the November 27th event described it as “the first act of collective psycho-magic in Mexico” and it attracted nearly 3000 people who donned skeleton masks, face-paint, tops hats. Some marchers carried black versions of the Mexican flag and shouted “Long live the dead!”

From the Los Angeles Times:

The “maestro” arrived at the palace steps about 1:30 p.m., causing brief havoc among the gathered calaveras as people jostled to get near him. The white-haired Jodorowsky, fit and agile at 82, wore a black sports coat, a bright purple scarf and a detailed skull mask.

Along with his family, Jodorowsky led the calaveras up the Eje Central avenue to Plaza Garibaldi in a mostly silent demonstration. In the late 1980s, he filmed some key scenes of “Santa Sangre” at this plaza, homebase for the city’s for-hire mariachi bands. On Sunday, it was easy to imagine another “Santa Sangre” scene being filmed during the march, but this time from a dark and unfamiliar future.

Someone decided the group should sing a song. It became “La Llorona,” the Weeping Woman. 

Jodorowsky was displeased with the group’s initial interpretation, so he asked for another go at it. A mariachi band joined in as accompaniment.

“There are 50,000 dead beings,” Jodorowsky said through a bullhorn, before the sea of skulls. “They are sheep. They are not black sheep. We must have mercy for these souls that have disappeared. Let’s sing this song with lament, as if we were the mother of one of these persons. Understand?”

Then he asked that all those present cross and link their arms with those of the strangers around them. The group did. They chanted “Peace, peace, peace!” until Jodorowsky asked that everyone let out a big laugh. Laughter and applause followed.

You have to love that the wiley shaman did the old “c’mon you guys can do better” routine and made them sing it again!

After the jump, a news report about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s November 27, 2011 Psychomagic event in Mexico.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Occupy Your Mind: An Interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky
07:06 pm


Alejandro Jodorowsky

The great Chilean-born director, artist, writer, shaman and “criminal madman, ” Alejandro Jodorowsky interviewed via Skype from a hotel room in NYC on October 30th.

Topics include Occupy Wall Street, why revolutions fail but mutation succeeds, the magical side of reality, the search for gurus and wisdom and why Twitter is the haiku of this century!  Jodorowsky’s films El Topo and The Holy Mountain are available on Blu-ray from ABKCO.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Halloween screening of Jodorowsky’s ‘The Holy Mountain’ at MoMA

ABKCO Films presents legendary director Alejandro Jodorowsky in a rare New York appearance with a Halloween screening of The Holy Mountain at MoMA:

Jodorowsky will introduce his visionary 1973 cult film The Holy Mountain, which famously played for sixteen straight months at New York’s Waverly Theater, at “An Evening with Alejandro Jodorowsky” on Monday, October 31, at 7 PM. The program serves as a coda to the exhibition of Jodorowsky’s work that was organized at MoMA PS1 earlier this year by Klaus Biesenbach.

Jodorowsky will take part in an onstage conversation with Klaus Biesenbach and Joshua Siegel.

The Holy Mountain is a surreal and picaresque satire depicting the journey of a Christ-like figure, the Thief, to a symbolic mountain that is said to unite Heaven and Earth. Playing the character of the Alchemist both on and off screen, Jodorowsky immersed his actors in months of preparatory spiritual and occult exercises, and was also responsible for the costume, set designs and for co-writing the musical score.

Tickets are $12 adults; $10 seniors, $8 full–time students. Admission is free for Museum members. Tickets and info. The Holy Mountain is out on Blu-ray DVD.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Marilyn Manson’s new video draws inspiration from Jodorowsky (NSFW)
12:09 am


Alejandro Jodorowsky
Marilyn Manson

Directed by Transformers star Shia LaBouef, Marilyn Manson’s self-produced video for his new song “No Reason” pays homage to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain. Manson and Jodorowsky are friends (Alejandro wanted to cast Marilyn in an El Topo sequel) and I guess this is Manson’s way of honoring his master.

Other influences I detect floating through the video are from George Bataille’s “The Story Of The Eye,” Takashi Miike’s Ichi, The Killer, Joel-Peter Witkin and new wave porn flicks like Night Dreams and Cafe Flesh.

I don’t think Manson is challenging himself with this. Been there, done that. But, anything that calls attention to Jodorowsky is in my opinion a good thing.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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