Review: El Topo 1970
← This, of course, is not the actual movie cover for “El Topo” but I really think that this is the only image I’ve found that even comes close to a representation of this movie, or at least, the first 2/3 of it... “El Topo” is a Mexican, surrealist western-horror, directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. This movie is so symbolic that it often seems to make no sense at all, the viewer gets an overall sense of the point that the movie is trying to make, but most scenes feel practically nonsensical… “El Topo” is essentially a 2 hour long work of art, that is not to say it’s all beautiful or wonderful, in fact, most of this movie ranges from unsettling to outright horrific. But every detail is meaningful, even if we can’t understand what the meaning is. Of the three Jodorowsky films I have seen so far (Santa Sangre, The Holy Mountain, El Topo), this one is probably the tamest/easiest to watch, however, El Topo is still not a movie to be watched casually, you’ll need to be prepared for blood, pain, deformity, sacrifice, and, above all, for the abject absurdity that you will be about to witness.
“El Topo” (which translates to ‘the mole’) is extremely bizarre, it is about the threefold, lifelong journey of a man who starts out, in the first ‘act’, avenging the slaughter of his village. In the ‘second act’, he goes on to seek out, challenge and defeat all of the alleged ‘gun masters’ in the desert, and in the the third chapter, he finds himself in a cave with a ‘tribe’ of deformed people, all of whom are trapped. They beseech him to dig them a tunnel out, so that they can join the brutal pagan society above them…
This movie is brilliant, but you have to know what you’re getting into, open your mind way up and accept that even then you still won’t fully understand the majority of the movie. “El Topo” is not easy to watch but if you can stomach it, it carries with it a general message that will always stand the test of time, in addition to a few other important messages and probably many more that I didn’t understand. It’s art so it’s very subjective and, at times, fairly graphic, but, whether you like the movie or not, you certainly can’t deny that “El Topo” is quite the experience.
I also feel it’s worth noting that John Lennon was reportedly a rather big fan of “El Topo” and was responsible for it’s release all around the world!