Writer/Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
Mexico Release date: 15th April 1971
Watched on Sky+ Monday 26th August 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have to admit I knew very little about this film before viewing other than the couple of lines you get on the TV guide. So, I knew it was a western (in Spanish, with subtitles) that was a religious allegory. I guess it was intriguing enough for me to put it in the planner and so I dutifully watched it. A very interesting film with some nice touches but one I found both confusing and intriguing at the same time. Here’s a very brief summary before I try to explain why.
We begin with El Topo (The Mole) (Alejandro Jodorowsky) and his young son (Brontis Jodorowsky) in the desert. They come across a massacre and are soon on the trail of those responsible. Having dispatched them and taken the leader’s woman, Mara (Mara Lorenzio) for his own, El Topo abandons his son at a monastery. They set off across the desert where she persuades him he must take on and beat the four ‘Masters’ who live in the desert. What follows is surreal, bloody and even quite sexual in places. Afterwards he finds himself transformed and with a mission to free the people who helped him. I’ll leave it there, I know it’s kind of sketchy but that’s because it’s a tad hard to describe without giving too much away.
I found this one a little difficult to follow, but at the same time it was quite a compelling watch. The connections between the three acts of the plot are, at times, quite hard to knit together, but it does all tie up in the end. Very bloody and quite daring (for its time) with quite a bit of nudity; I can imagine it was a little controversial, to say the least, on release. I won’t say too much about the performances, but needless to say I couldn’t find too much to complain about. I can’t say I understood much of the religious allegory that was mentioned in the blurb, but it was entertaining enough.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 6.3/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 11,450 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 85/100 (based on 13,722 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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