The Alejandro Jodorowsky Primer

No word could better describe Alejandro Jodorowsky than hyperbole. He’s the embodiment of enthusiastic and emphatic energy unfettered from the physical world. He dances on a plane of existence to which we should all strive. The platonic ideal of an artist, Jodorowsky produces works that aim to create cosmic shifts in consciousness. Part holy man, part trickster demigod, Jodorowsky is… hyperbole. At a time we need him the most, delivering like a prophet should, Jodorowsky has a new film on the horizon. Endless Poetry, a follow-up to The Dance of Reality, opens in theaters on July 14th.  In celebration, I am happy to offer up a primer, or cheat sheet, to the man and his work. Each and every one is an entry point—though certainly not an easy one—to Jodorowsky’s world, one that may feel quite unsettling and weird at times, but often quite beautiful as well.

Jodorowsky’s second film, El Topo, pretty much gave birth to the concept of the midnight movie. It shouldn’t be experienced at any normal hour. As the film’s director, writer, and star, Jodorowsky put everything he had on the screen, depicting the bizarre journey of a gunslinger traveling the desert on a spiritual quest, battling master gunmen, mysterious women, deformed outcasts, and so much else that would be simply too difficult to explain. It’s both comforting and amusing to see the film is available on DVD/Blu-ray and streaming platforms, when less than 20 years ago, the only way to watch it was to purchase a bootleg VHS dub of the Japanese laserdisc picked up at a convention or a less-than-reputable video shop. A whole generation of film nerds first experienced the film via a copy of a copy of a copy, but the film’s impact was not lost.

Jodorowsky’s forays into comic books predate even his filmmaking, but his most iconic work is The Incal, a series initially illustrated by the acclaimed artist Mœbius. The fantastical dystopian adventure featuring hard-luck, low-life detective John Difool as he acquires a mystical artifact, the Incal, and must contend with some of the powerful entities in the galaxy, who wish to possess it. This grand sci-fi opera spawned not only a sequel and a prequel, but also an entire shared universe, known lovingly as the Jodoverse. Like his films, these decades-spanning comics used to be fairly hard come by unless you spoke French and/or were willing to shell out a lot of the money, but now anyone can read about the Incal and other Jodoverse titles like the Metabarons and the Technopriests.
If there was a Church of Jodo, Psychomagic would be its bible. Put simply, psychomagic is mixture of psychology and magic of Jodorowsky’s own devising. He explains its principles and offers the story of how he cultivated it over his life. No one other than Jodorowsky could expertly meld folk healing rituals with pop psychology and make it work.  It’s authentic in all the ways Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret could never be. The text is both spiritual and practical. Anyone can benefit from Psychomagic, whether they are just starting out their own spiritual journey, a veteran traveler looking for a new perspective, or a skeptic who is open to having their mind changed.
What if the greatest film of all time was never made? Could it still go on to change the face of cinema and influence filmmakers for decades to come? According to this documentary, it could. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a delightfully entertaining and comprehensive film chronically the non-making of Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, years before David Lynch’s version was produced. The documentary is both celebratory and heartbreaking (read our review here). The team Jodorowsky assembled was without rival. And though we’ll never get to see his version of Dune, this documentary gave us something perhaps even greater. It reunited Jodorowsky with his former producer Michel Seydoux. The two then paired to produce The Dance of Reality, Jodorowsky’s first film in over two decades.  Fortunately the wait for the upcoming Endless Poetry wasn’t nearly as long.

Endless Poetry opens at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York and at the NuArt in Los Angeles on July 14, 2017. It will expand to other major markets nationwide on July 24, 2017.