Tuesday, August 21, 2007

EL TOPO - balls-out film-making

See the naked young Franciscans whipped with cactus. See the priest ride into the sunset with a midget and her newborn baby.EL TOPO is one of the weirdest movies you'll ever see. It's a cheeky surreal take on the Spaghetti Western shot by a Chilean director in Mexico. I can't explain what it's about, although PhD students can shoot theories of religious symbolism up the wazoo. All I can say is that the humble viewer is presented with images that are hillarious, disturbing and plain old bizarre for two hours. The back bone of the flick is the avenging cowboy, El Topo, who rides through a barren land with his butt naked seven year old son. The landscape is peopled with monks, lesbians, sufis and other random stuff. There's violence - both comic and brutal. And at one point, El Topo swaps his butt-naked son for an avenging chick, and then two. And then they emerge at some point in the futre from a cave (like a Mole - a ha!) and the son is now a weird-ass monk.....Anyways, I'm completely lost, but you can't help but have fun watching this ridiculousness.

It's funny isn't it? Everyone said that cheap Digital Video would liberate young film-makers from the hack studio system and allow them to truly express themselves. But all we've gotten are identikit "Sundance" rom-coms with quirky characters and faux-naif humour. Where are the truly liberated visual artists? Where are pioneers? Where are the Alejandro Jodarowsky's of today?

EL TOPO was released in 1970s and spent a year as the Midnight movie at the Elgin Theatre in New York after John Lennon and Yoko Ono championed it. It was re-released uncut and cleaned up in the UK in April 2007 and is also available on DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment