It is pretty common to see a bunch of “best of” and “worst of” lists during the first week of a new year. I usually do them. This year, however, I am completely worn out from the vast amounts of cinematic negativity on the internet. I have just been waiting for that one guy to make two lists consisting of no titles, and then going on to explain why he hates everything…even the stuff he has yet to see.
The two films in this review are connected. They were not produced in 2017; but, Endless Poetry did finally come to Blu-ray last year. Alejandro Jodorowsky has been thoroughly covered on this website. He is a surrealist, a poet, and a filmmaker just to name a few. The Dance of Reality is his first directorial credit since The Rainbow Thief in 1990. He has been writing and doing comics for years, allowing him to explore his metaphysical and science fiction themes without film studio intrusiveness.
The Dance of Reality is part one of what is rumored to be a five film series covering the life of this amazing artist. It covers the man’s early childhood. One would think that five films to cover a lifespan is quite a bit, especially when Jodorowsky is up around the two and a half hour mark on each of the first two films. Instead, the work of Jodorowsky manages to cover much more in the world he has created thus far in the series. His philosophy on life, religion, politics, and society are covered through numerous scenes in which he and his family merely play characters.
The philosophical stance that he takes on reality has been seen in many of his works, especially in the famous final scene of Holy Mountain. He takes on an approach to life and how we perceive reality similar to the Eastern Philosophies. You can tell that his work, especially in this first film, is deeply religious and introspective. It is as if he is an old man (which he is in reality) looking back on his first dealings with the meaning of life.
Outside of the questions he raises regarding our perception of the world around us through the eyes of our youth, he also manages to make brutally realistic statements about Facist governments, familial relationships, and societal inequality. The bottom line is that in this film, like most of his work, there is tons of content. You will have to watch it twice. Interestingly enough, after your second viewing you will probably want even more. So whether you are a fan of cinematography, philosophy, symbolism, or just delving into multiple interpretations of filmmaking, you will probably love this film
In the end, The Dance of Reality is an incredibly impressive film. It uses a strangely disturbing narrative structure. It even deals with sexual imagery that will shock even the most seasoned extreme horror fans out there. I guarantee that this is a film that you will remember for a long time. Like many of his films, the set design and sprawling city scenes will leave the visual artists in the audience wanting more. The music is dreamlike and the poetic narration adds another layer of poetry to that of the cinematic variety.
Speaking of poetry, the second film is titled Endless Poetry. This is one of the most visually intriguing films I watched last year. So while I won’t be doing an list posts this year, I will at least try to mention some stuff that may get overlooked by the common viewer. This second film really takes the thematic content of the first to a new level. It is a combinataion of the previously mentioned types of poetry that Jodorowsky is using to create the story of a life. It is a retrospective of his life, but a lesson to viewers about looking back on their own lives. The world is poetry, your life is poetry, and like many Eastern Philosophies, the world moves through an endless cycle of…wait for it…poetry.
This is where I think he is really beginning to deal with aspects of a metaphysical nature. He is attempting to get at the meaning (or meaningless) aspects of his life in order to transcend. This film picks up right where the first film ends. The boats takes the boy away. We see his adolescence. It ends where it begins, with the man being taken into the sea pictured below. His quest thus far, has taken him to the coming-of-age jumping off point. He has come to physical, mental, and sexual awakenings. He is now ready to be a man…and I’m already read for the next movie.
So as far as interpretation and pretentiousness goes, all I can do is guess as to where he is going at this point. I know that these two films have raised questions that he has has tackled in previous films. I know that they are deeply personal works. I also know that they are art that will speak to different people in different ways. From the seemingly Oedipal scenes of his early years to those of the outsider later on, we travel through many phases with Mr. Jodorowsky. For me the film is personal and interpersonal. It is a conversation that the filmmaker is having with the viewer about both of their lives. It is strange to say, but I think Alejandro Jodorowsky is the only director that can be so brutally literal and so intelligently metaphoric all at the same time.