THE DANCE OF REALITY (LA DANZA DE LA REALIDAD) (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2013)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves.
Opens Friday, May 23
Cult legend Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first film in twenty-three years is a deeply intimate, visually stunning journey into his childhood, a surreal Amarcord as only he can make it. In the gorgeous The Dance of Reality, the man behind such midnight-movie classics as 1970’s El Topo and 1973’s The Holy Mountain travels back to his hometown, the small coastal village of Tocopilla, Chile, where he relives and reimagines seminal moments in his life. The eighty-four-year-old Jodorowsky is often on-screen, melding past, present, and future, as his younger self (Jeremias Herskovits), sporting a gloriously ridiculous mound of golden curls, wanders among circus performers, amputees, and other oddballs and disenfranchised souls that would make Fellini proud. It’s a dazzling family affair in more ways than one: Jodorowsky’s son Brontis plays his father, Jaime, a Stalinist with a rather strong dislike for Chilean leader Carlos Ibáñez (Bastian Bodenhöfer), while son Adan plays the town anarchist (and composed the score) and son Cristóbal is a mystical theosophist. Jodorowsky’s mother, Sara (Pamela Flores), always wanted to be a singer, so he has the buxom woman deliver all her lines as if she is in an opera. And his wife, painter Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, designed the fantabulous costumes. “You and I have only been memories, never reality,” Jodorowsky says in voice-over. “Something is dreaming us. Give yourself to the illusion. Live!” Indeed, The Dance of Reality is like a dream, bathed in spectacular color and boasting a triumphant spirit even as death beckons.
Even the publicity for the film is handled with typical Jodorowskian flourish. “I see no difference between poetry and film. I see no difference between stripping the body and the soul naked. I am who I am,” he says in an online video introduction in which he sits completely naked, adding, “In full honesty, undressed boy, undressed soul, in pure poetry.” Jodorowsky (Santa Sangre, Fando y Lis) undresses himself for all to see in The Dance of Reality, a lovingly poetic and personal work of art beautifully shot by Jean-Marie Dreujou. It is Jodorowsky, so it’s also wild and unpredictable, flabbergasting and confusing, mesmerizing and charming. It also marks a new phase in the career of the comic-book writer, philosopher, playwright, and self-described “atheist mystic” who vows not to wait another two decades for his next film (and not just because he is in his mid-eighties) and is currently preparing a MoMA exhibition that might involve him reading tarot cards for museum visitors. “Films should have a purpose, to open our consciousness,” he says in that video introduction. The Dance of Reality is another fascinating stop on Jodorowsky’s continuing voyage of opening people’s consciousness and, perhaps, as he adds, to “begin to change the world.”