Alejandro Jodorowsky: The Psychomagical Alchemist

Reaching the p [...]

Reaching the pinnacle at The Holy Mountain, baptising with Holy Blood, he conceives a grotesque world of occult ‘psychomagic,’ creates a myth as a spiritual guru, and builds a legend as a cult master filmmaker with millions of followers. He is the one and only – Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Calling himself an atheist, the Chilean-born director looks to the tarot card as his bible, through which he unleashes the wildest imagination inspired by his trump cards: Fellini’s carnivalesque circus and bizarre characters; Buñuel’s whimsical surrealism and subversive power; Pasolini’s sexual liberation and religious satire; and Freud’s psychoanalysis and libido drive. Infusing his coming-of-age struggle and estranged family relationships, the alchemist transforms all into his own brand of phantasmagorical cinema, using the power of dreams and arts as a therapy to enlighten people, all the while healing his own soul.

‘Most directors make films with their eyes; I make films with my testicles.’ The visionary provocateur is fearless to stun with boobs and balls, dwarfs and cannibals, outrageous obscenity and bloody violence. More than compelling spectacles that inspire awe, his psychedelic and aesthetically intoxicating imagery is also replete with mystical iconography and visual allegory.

Chameleons dressing as conquerors, goat carcasses on the cross, Buddha-shaped pistols…these quirky emblematic figures and vaudevilles form a colony of absurd, surreal fantasy, with a generous supply of killings, tortures, disembowelments, and rapes. Whether it is called blasphemy or anti-religion, profane or sexual liberation, his dream tableau of the weird often breaks the forms and taboos, reflecting the madness of modern life, while making a satirical thrash at totalitarianism, militarism, exploitation colonialism and capitalism. As a co-founder of the Panic Movement, he aims to create works that shock in order to ‘release destructive energies as part of a wider search for peace and beauty.’

Throughout his long career, applauses and condemnations are never faraway: his debut Fando and Lis was banned in Mexico; El Topo courted controversy but emerged in midnight circuit; the Dune project was abandoned yet became an unrealised cult classic. Such notoriety helps Jodorowsky ascend to his place in the pantheon of avant-garde film artist. Now at 94, the prophet is still alive and kicking, saying he has the ambition to live 300 years. So, after The Dance of Reality and Endless Poetry, when will the third chapter of his autobiographical trilogy be launched, as promised? Well then, all his followers will be pleased to sing along with his son Adán: ‘Even if I have to wait a thousand years, I'll be there for you; Even if I have to loose a thousand tears, I'll be there for you.’