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Nar’s Nerd Worship: Alejandro Jodorowsky

I don’t exactly know what a “metaphysical gangster spaghetti western” is, but I do know that only one person in the world could make one: Alejandro Jodorowsky.

If you are unfamiliar with Jodorowsky’s work, he is one of the most interesting, unusual, and brilliant minds in cinema. His films are full of symbolism, religious themes, magic, and amputated dwarves. The Holy Mountain is one of my favorite films of all time, and his comic book series The Incal ranks near the top on my list of must reads. I’ve used this blog to nerd-worship before when I proclaimed a mage-crush on Alan Moore… Now it’s Alejandro’s turn.

I discovered Jodorowsky by accident, thumbing through old vinyl records at a Half Price Books in Cincinnati back in 2001. I came across a record with this image on the cover:

El Topo Soundtrack

I had no clue what it was, who it was, or what it was going to sound like, but really — how could I justify not buying it with that crazy eyed guy on the front? The record is a jazzfunk jam that reminds me at times of Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis. The sleeve explained that it was a soundtrack to a cult film called El Topo, and that the music was written by the film’s director and star (and the crazy eyed guy on the cover), Alejandro Jodorowsky.  I knew I had to see this film.

But it was nowhere to be found. It was a midnight cult movie from a bygone era of acid tripping hipsters (John Lennon said it was his favorite film), relegated to cheap VHS bootlegs from Japanese video releases. After a few unsuccessful bids on eBay, a friend found a DVD bootleg at a flea market in San Francisco. It’s about a gunfighter’s quest for enlightenment  – with plenty of bizarre characters, Eastern philosophy, and Christian symbolism. A really good, trippy flick.

But I wasn’t truly blown away until I watched The Holy Mountain a couple years later, having found another bootleg at a video store in Austin…

Alejandro Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain

The 1973 film was partially financed by John and Yoko, partially based on an unfinished novel by a student of G.I. Gurdjieff, and partially shot under the influence of magic mushrooms. Holy crap does it show. Let’s put it this way: at one point costumed frogs and iguanas reenact the Spanish conquest of South America. The film follows a thief as he is saved from crucifiction by an amputee dwarf, meets an alchemist, and led on an ascent up The Holy Mountain. It is absolutely brilliant, visually psychedelic, and a must see film for any movie lover with a taste for weird.

Soon after, I started reading Jodorowsky’s science fiction comics, notably The Incal, which Luc Besson essentially plagiarized to make the movie The Fifth Element. Jodorowsky’s comics are published by Humanoids Publishing, and his films were finally released stateside in 2007 on DVD. 

… So I was stoked (to say the least) to find this recent interview with Jodorowsky about his new film, King Shot, which is produced by David Lynch and stars Nick Nolte and Marilyn Manson, among others. The video features concept art — including what looks like a Pope that eats humans and ostriches on wheels. Welcome to Jodorowsky’s world!

For more info about Alejandro Jodorowsky:

ABKCO Films

Jodorowsky Wiki Page

Humanoids Publishing

4 Comments

  1. narfangirl18 says:

    By far my favorite blog that you’ve written (not that I don’t love them all … I’m your biggest fan!). This looks really amazing, but I have to ask – other than the psychidelica and weirdness, what are the themes and overall arcs that draw you into Jodorowsky?

    ps: you are so hot!!! i saw you on G4! are you married???

  2. Nar Williams says:

    Thanks, narfangirl18. I’ll be back on TV in 2009 hosting a show on the Science Channel, so keep an eye out!

    The theme of enlightenment in Jodorowsky’s work is appealing to me, as is the condemnation of violence and warmongering. Pretty common themes, but the psychedelic weirdness and Jodorowsky’s unusual sense of humor are what really make his work click with me!

  3. halli says:

    OMG Nar Williams is hot!!!

  4. halli says:

    lovin science of the movies, nar! but my mom thinks it’s borin!
    convince her she’s wrong!

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