much perfection is a mistake."
A mysterious gunslinger
(Jodorowsky), aided by a small child attempts to avenge the massacre of a
town. However, his quest for vengeance turns into a quest of self discovery
and enlightenment when he rescues a mysterious woman who leads him through
the desert to confront four gun masters. As our anti-hero proceeds through
each new challenge, his mind is awakened to the dark shadow that has loomed
above him all his life. It soon becomes clear that El Topo must do all he
can to cleanse himself of his former sins. However can a man with such a bloody
past really change his ways for the better?
In 1970, Alejandro
changed the face of cinema forever; unfortunately the rest of the world still
hasn't caught up.
El Topo is a film
of epic proportions and has a story to match. The core storyline tells an
interesting; if not down right peculiar story of one man's obsession and subsequent
yearning for redemption which plays out with great pace. However the themes
deployed in the story including the many spiritual and moral subtexts are
what really make El Topo shine. Some truly memorable moments play out in the
script such as El Topo's showdown with the four gun masters, his showdown
with his female alter-ego and his meeting with the bandit leader. All these
moments are drenched in psychodelia and metaphor, giving a general feeling
of confusion about the whole film. However the pacing of the script is so
fluent that what could have just been chaos is turned into organised chaos.
The most remarkable thing about El Topo's story is that it works on so many
different levels. On one hand it can be an entertaining, albeit, strange tale
or it can be a giant allegory packed with allusions to every religion and
philosophy under the sun.
The main talent on
show within El Topo is Jodorowsky himself. He plays a believable figure and
his inner conflict and personal change is absolutely convincing. The other
supporting actors range from talented and unique to dismal and ten a penny.
Another striking feature about El Topo is that many of its best performances
are delivered in total silence. As with cult sci-fi hit '2001: A Space Odyssey',
El Topo has a very spartan use of dialogue. Jodorowsky himself has often stated
that he only uses dialogue in places images can not tell the story completely.
It's this approach that highlights the truly sterling performances within
the film, with fantastic body language, especially among key characters. This
also happens to highlight El Topo's gorgeous aesthetics. In short El Topo
juxtaposed with surrealist imagery have an extremely poignant effect within
the film creating a bizarre world reminiscent of nothing before. Throughout
the film Jodorowsky also wears his influences on his sleeve as we see moments
reminiscent of Brunel and Bergman shining through the director's unique vision.
Any gore enthusiasts will also be pleased to hear that El Topo has a layer
of gritty realism underneath its far-out aesthetics too with blood practically
flowing off the screen, particularly in the early chapters of the film. However
the violence and sexual content of this movie never overshadows the beautiful
cinematography that makes El Topo a true assault on the senses.
El Topo is not a film
that will cater for everyone. Many have accused the film of trying to be all
things to all people and in a sense, it does. There is so much going on in
this movie that it is never truly appreciated until its third or fourth viewing,
but when things click, it's clear to see that El Topo is a much overlooked
masterpiece and quite possibly one of the most important films of the 20th
century. This is what cinema was meant to be before Hollywood stuck a muzzle
on it. However, if you're bored of the same old thing then El Topo may just
be the old dog that can teach you a few new tricks.
PICTURE & SOUND
The film is presented in a 1.33:1
aspect ratio with a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (Subtitled). The
transfer of the film is phenomenal and probably one of the best restoration
jobs ever put onto DVD.
Commentary from Director Alejandro
Presented on the DVD in Spanish with subtitles, this commentary is a fantastic
insight into the film. Aside from talking about the story behind El Topo,
Jodorowsky gives insight into his rationale behind some of the films more
confusing scenes, making the viewer's job much easier. Jodorowsky also delves
into the symbolism he used and goes into detail about the reaction towards
this film on its initial release. The most striking thing about the commentary;
is that it is truly entertaining and informative and really earns its place
on the DVD. Anyone who is interested in the deeper aspects of this film will
greatly appreciate this commentary.
2.0 English Dub
Track The dub is purely on the DVD for completists' sake as the film is without
a doubt best viewed in its native tongue. However, the dub track on offer
is so hilariously over the top and melodramatic that it fits Jodorowsky's
masterpiece very well. This at least makes the film worth viewing with this
alternate soundtrack at least once. Watching with the dub however, will negate
the beautiful 5.1 audio mix; which will be substituted for a decent stereo
track that pales in comparison to the beautiful sounds of the original mix.
'Jodorowsky on El Topo' featurette
This featurette consists of a short interview with Jodorowsky, in which he
talks about the history of El Topo and how it was received by the world. Although
the interview is very interesting Jodorowsky mentions a lot of this already
on the feature commentary, which turns most of this feature into filler.
Theatrical Trailer (3.55 mins)
The original 1970 movie trailer is shown here, in an unrestored presentation.
This feature is interesting to watch just to see how remarkable the restoration
to the actual feature has been.
While low on extras the quality
of the ones contained make the package worthwhile, especially Jodorowsky's
stellar feature commentary, which is probably one the best recorded. The main
draw to this DVD is the astonishing new transfer and sound which is nothing
short of miraculous. The amount of work gone into preparing this film for
redistribution was obviously monumental. As such this more than makes up for
the lack of other decent extras and still makes the disc a worthwhile purchase,
with what is in essence, one of the best remasters of a film since the first
Star Wars movie in 1997.
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