23 years is a long time to wait for a film, but then again Alejandro Jodorowsky is no ordinary director. Very few filmmakers have a unique vision, style, individualism and cult following which inspires someone to make a documentary about one of their aborted projects (as Frank Pavich does in Jodorowsky’s Dune). With surrealist masterpieces such as El Topo, Santa Sangre and The Holy Mountain behind him the Chilean is truly one of a kind. His latest film, The Dance of Reality, is the story of his childhood told in his own mercurial style.
Childhood is not easy for young lonely Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits). Living in Tocophilla in northern Chile, he has to contend with his communist Stalin-worshipping Jewish father, Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky), who is determined to make him into a man. Then there’s his mother, Sara (Pamela Flores), who is still obsessed by the ghost of her father; living her life in an operatic dream. He struggles to please his father whilst increasingly enticed by the spiritualism and religion of his mother. As the dictatorship in Chile becomes increasingly oppressive, Jaime decides to leave home in an attempt to assassinate President Carlos Ibáñez del Campo(Bastian Bodenhofer).
The Dance of Reality owes much to Fellini. Jadorowsky mixes mysticism, surrealism, the grotesque and the fantastical to make a gloriously vivid autobiographical film. He’s also the steadying narrator, ensuring his tale is told in a way which, whilst based on fact, is clearly driven by the imagination of a child. A new Jodorowsky film is always something to be celebrated. The fact this kind of films is still being made at all is a triumph in itself. The Dance of Reality is perhaps a touch too long, but it’s also his most narrative-driven and cohesive films he’s made and a joy to watch.
The Dance of Reality is out in cinemas on Friday.