Published On: Thu, May 15th, 2014

After 23 years of silence Alejandro Jodorowsky Releases “The Dance of Reality” and it is surreal

The cult filmmaker’s first film in over 20 years, “The Dance of Reality”, is released on May 23.

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When a visionary such as Alejandro Jodorowsky releases a new film after 23 years of cinematic silence, it is a cause for celebration for fans, critics and Avantgarde cinema enthusiasts alike. When in that film, the unique filmmaker opts to share the story of his childhood and reveal the surroundings, characters and occurrences that helped shape his flourishing surreal consciousness and his distinct hallucinatory style – and when this psychedelic autobiographical account follows the release of a fascinating theatrical documentary about the filmmaker – that’s enough to constitute a mammoth-sized, carnival-like, Jodorowsky-styled gala.

“The Dance of Reality”, Jodorowsky’s 7th feature film, and his first since 1990’s “The Rainbow Thief”, is set for release on May 23. Blending personal, autobiographical experiences with metaphor, mythology and poetry, the film offers a surreal portrayal of a malleable, alienated young boy’s journey, following the departure of his abusive father, and the soul-rendering and unexpected path that journey takes.

“I am going back to the source of my childhood”, Jodorowsky says of the film. “To the same place where I grew up, in order to reinvent myself. It’s a reconstruction that has reality as its starting point, but which does not allow me to change the past.”

The film, which recounts the director’s experiences from his perspective as both an impressionable young boy, as well as an older man looking back on those early days, was shot in Tocopilla, Jodorowsky’s Chilean hometown, “which hasn’t changed for 80 years”, the director says. “We shot it in the very street where my parents’ store was located. It was the only store that had burnt down on that street and I rebuilt it for the film. We retouched a few things; we painted the movie theater and repaired the tarmac on the road.”

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Besides the authenticity it brings to the film, the director’s choice to shoot in the town he grew up in brought the once-rejected, only-pale-skinned-boy-in-town depicted in the film, a sense of closure, he reveals. “I was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants in the middle of a land purchased from Bolivia and peopled with Amerindians. That made me a mutant in the eyes of the locals”, says Jodorowsky. “But through the film and thanks to the improvements we made to the town, I became the savior, the perfect son of Tocopilla in the end. They even gave me a diploma. I am the hero who brought along the magic filter to save the people, and that filter was cinema.”

Like most of his films, “The Dance of Reality” includes a unique variety of unorthodox, colorful characters; the distinction being that those depicted in this film are based on the younger Jodorowsky’s actual townsfolk – those who have helped shape his burgeoning surreal consciousness and contributed to his bizarre, dreamlike vision. “If you show a voluptuous woman, one thinks of Fellini; if you show a dwarf, one thinks of Buñuel; if you show a freak, one thinks of Tod Browning”, Jodorowsky says. “But in fact, that was my life in my village. All the elements of my childhood are there.”

The film, starring Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis – who made his debut appearance on Jodorowsky’s cult classic “El Topo” back in 1970 – and features a self-portrayal by the filmmaker himself, comes out just a few months after the release of “Jodorowsky’s Dune”, a critically-acclaimed documentary about the director’s failed attempt to shoot a theatrical version of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, Dune.

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Alejandro Jodorowsky has only made seven feature films in the last 45 years, but he is revered among fans of cinematographic fantasy.

He was born in the coastal town of Tocopilla, Chile, in 1929, to a family of Russian Jews exiled to South America. When he was 9, his family moved to the city of Santiago, where he started writing poetry, and later became a circus clown and began a career as a theatre director. In 1947 he founded his own theatrical troupe, and in 1952 he left Chile, and moved to Paris, France.

In Paris Jodorowsky studied mime with Marcel Marceau and crossed paths with Maurice Chevalier, and it was there when he started taking interest in filmmaking, creating his first short film, “Les têtes interverties”.

In 1960, Jodorowsky moved to Mexico, and settled down in Mexico City, where he founded the Panic Movement with Roland Topor and Fernando Arrabal.

Jodorowsky released his debut feature film, “Fando y Lis”, in 1967, and its followup, “El Topo”, in 1970. Upon its release, John Lennon introduced “El Topo” to American crowds at the Elgin Theatre in New York at midnight, thus birthing the Midnight Movie phenomenon. Lennon also provided Jodorowsky with $1 million to finance his next film, 1973’s “The Holy Mountain”.

After the failed attempt at filming Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, Jodorowsky produced three more films, 1980’s “Tusk”, 1989’s “Santa Sangre”, and 1990’s “The Rainbow Thief”.

 

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