The counterculture midnight movie classics have a big screen revival.
If you want to start the new year and new decade on the right foot, you’ll be glad to hear that Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first three feature films are returning to British cinema screens in January, ahead of their blu-ray release. El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Fando Y Lis have all had fashionable 4K restorations and will have a staggered theatrical release through the month.
El Topo is Jodorowsky’s extraordinary reinvention of the western, breathing a metaphysical life into the genre while also liftimg elelemnts from philisophical martial arts cinema, and became one of the pivotal mindight movies of the 1970s, helping establish an alternative distribution system in the USA for films that were not overtly commercial. It’s a masterpiece of tripped out ultraviolence, philosophy and beauty, unlike anything you might have seen before. Of course, the re-release might give unpleasantly opportunist hack journalists another chance to dig up already discredited claims about Jodorowskyand the film, but only idiots will take any notice.
The Holy Mountain may be the ultimate Jodorowsky experience – it is, at least, his most unrestrained exploration of existential psychedelia, with no regard given to following either traditional narrative or catering to mainstream requirements. It’s certainly his most beautiful and absorbing experience, the sort of film that pulls and audience into a dream state even as it pokes fun at some of the excesses of the pop culture that it is embracing. It’s a film that exists beyond cinema, and if you could only see one of these movies on the big screen, I’d definitely suggest this one.
Fernando Y Lis is where it all began after Jodorowsky moved from the theatrical performance of the Panic Movement to filmmaking, being based on the theatrical work by Fernando Arrabel. Shot in black and white, it doesn’t have the comic book and pop art colour explosions of later works, but still packs a visual and visceral punch, leading to the film being banned in several territories.
All three should be at the top of your cinema-going lists for 2020, though is somewhat limited, with screening taking place in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Dublin, Glasgow, Galway, Leicester, Worthing and Cardiff between January and February. I’ve seen these films theatrically, and I can assure you that it will be worth the effort of going along.