To call Alejandro Jodorowsky a filmmaker would be to sell him short. To classify him as a cult director or confine him to a genre at all would be the only provocation needed to begin an unbearable collegiate debate or never-ending tirade fervidly spewing from the lips of your closest high-riding acquaintance stricken with the holy endowment of cinephilia. Jodorowsky would undoubtedly be appreciative of any panic-stricken chaos passionately erupting from even the mere implication of attempting to wrangle a definition around his body of work, but then again, he’s a man born of the circus.
Jodorowsky has worn many titles: writer, director, actor, composer, mime, shaman, guru, psychomagician, comic book author, novelist, and sculptor; but he’s most well known for his films, which he’s still making at the age of 91. His 1970 acid western, EL TOPO, is widely regarded as being the first “Midnight Movie,” gaining underground fame and acknowledgment from both colleagues and contemporaries. John Lennon and Yoko Ono declared the film a masterpiece and went so far as to give Jodorowsky carte blanche funding for his next feature, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. Both films are ripe with mysticism, overt religious symbolism, and a spectacular showing of bloody passionate sexgore.
Jodorowsky attempted to bring Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel DUNE to the screen, but his proposed 12-hour adaptation couldn’t find studio funding. The script for Jodorowsky’s DUNE, complete with a shot list of 3,000 hand-drawn images, made its way around the studios influencing much of today’s most well-known sci-fi movies. Jodorowsky’s DUNE has since come to be known as “the greatest movie never made.” He went on to complete SANTA SANGRE, a surrealist slasher film, in 1989. There was a 23-year gap in his filmmaking career until his autobiographical works THE DANCE OF REALITY (2013) and ENDLESS POETRY (2016). He largely funded both productions with donations from fans, rewarding them with things like virtual personalized tarot card readings, while casting himself and his sons as actors in the film and his wife as the costume designer. Both films took a step in a traditional linear direction and received praise for being the most “approachable” of his works. The autobiographical films, still very visually Joodorowsky, offered a calming sincerity in contrast to his earlier panic-inducing mind trips.
Now this visionary director is back with the U.S. premiere of PSYCHOMAGIC, A HEALING ART, a documentary that explores Jodorowsky’s theory of trauma therapy using performance art as a healing tool for debilitating psychic suffering. Intercut with scenes from his most famous films, the film parallels and explains his intent and vision present from the start of his career, giving new perspective and meaning to his seminal works, while simultaneously breaking the wall between fictional and real.
Preorder your rental of any film in the collection now to receive an invite to our livestream Q&A with Alejandro Jodorowsky on August 8th.