Review of "El Topo"

Topics: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Western, Allegory Pages: 5 (1866 words) Published: February 24, 2014
"El Topo" (The Mole; 鼹鼠) (1970) (ACID WESTERN / SURREALISM / ART-HOUSE)

"El Topo" (English title: "The Mole", Chinese title: "鼹鼠") is a very weird movie which can be described as mix of acid western and surreal art-house feature. It was directed by highly controversial Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky and shot in Mexico (where Jodorowsky lived many years). As I said this a truly ambitious and difficult to understand film, full of multiple allegories, religious symbolism and far-east philosophy. However everything is disguised as a western movie. But not the western movie you used to watch before, I can assure you of that...

Movie begins with our black-clad hero, gunfighter El Topo (played by director himself) riding a horse through the desert with umbrella and his few years old son...who is naked (in fact not completely naked, he has a hat and shoes). Soon they arrive to a small village and find out that all townspeople (and their animals) were killed in a gruesome way (there is literally a lake of blood!). El Topo proceeds to revenge them by killing their murders: fat Colonel and his group of bandits. In the process our hero frees a woman who was kept as slave by bandidos (later he calls her Mara) and...leaves his son in a monks' mission without any hesitation (yeah, he's such a bad-ass...). However Mara informs him that she can't fall in love with him until El Topo kills 4 best gunfighters who live on this desert. So our protagonist has no choice (anything he thinks so...) and proceeds to search for the gunfighters (masters) one by one and kills them. However he doesn't win thanks to his enormous gunfight skills. No way, he's just cheating them and use very trickery methods as he has no chance to win with them in a fair duels. However when the last master commits suicide in front of El Topo (he's such a masterful man that he doesn't care about such "trivial" things like life...), our hero's sanity starts to collapse and he begins to understand that what he has done was evil and completely meaningless. Moreover unnamed woman (who was riding with him and Mara from some time) challenges him for duel, and as he refuses to fight anymore, she shoots his hands, feet and chest (like stigmata on Christ)...and rides away with his woman (apparently Mara and the woman fell in love with each other... Seems that lesbianism also is used a symbol of sin here). Luckily for El Topo, he's being found by strange group of dwarves and mutants, who take him to their cave and heal his wounds. "Cavemen" treat him like a God and tell him that he's some kind of Messiah who can help them to get out from the cave (they lived in the cave from hundreds of years and due to close-family sex they are all mutated dwarves who have no chance to climb out of the cave). Thanks to them El Topo changes his evil ways and decides to help them to go out. He climbs out of the cave together with dwarf woman (who later becomes his lover) and they proceed to dig out the tunnel to the cave from outside. They also often go to nearby town to perform a theater-like performances to receive money for purchasing dynamite which can help them to make the tunnel faster. In the town El Topo also meets his (now much older) son who wants to kill his father at first (revenge for leaving him in monastery) but later agree to wait with this killing until they finish the tunnel. As they dig the tunnel, all of them (El Topo, his son and dwarf woman) apparently start to enjoy life more and they're building closer relation between each other thanks to a common goal which bids them together.

However is it really good for mutants to go out from the cave and meet "normal" people from nearby town? Especially that those "normal" people aren't normal at all, as they are followers of some awkward occult religion (which seems like a travesty of Christianity)...

Well, it seems that I described most of the major plot elements of "El Topo"! But don't worry, even after that...
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