Blu Ray Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky Box Set

Aaron ConnBlu-Ray Review, MoviesLeave a Comment

Jodorowsky Cover

Jodorowsky CoverABKCO have recently released a new Blu-ray box set devoted to cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky. The box set not only features four movies directed by the legendary filmmaker but it includes new 4K transfers of Jodorowsky’s first three feature length movies. Along with this, ABKCO have added a plethora of bonus features- with some of them being brand new. This new box set is a wonderful release and should leave all Jodorowsky fans pleased.

WHO IS JODOROWSKY?
jodorowskyAlejandro Jodorowsky is a Chilean born filmmaker who is perhaps best known for his 1970 cult classic film El Topo. The movie is widely considered by many to be the originator of the Midnight Movie craze, paving the way for other movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pink Flamingos and The Room. Jodorowsky is also the author of several books, including the graphic novel series The Incal. Now in his 90s, Jodoroswky is still active in the business.

jodorowsky blu ray set
THE BOX SET
This box set comes with four Alejandro Jodorowsky movies on Blu ray.

Fando y Lis (1968)
El Topo (1970) + the soundtrack CD
The Holy Mountain (1973) + the soundtrack CD
Psychomagic- A Healing Art (2019)

Some people might notice that this is almost a re-release of the 2007 ABKCO/Anchor Bay box set The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky– which included his first three movies, along with the soundtracks to El Topo and The Holy Mountain.  However upon going through the contents of the box set, this new one offers much more. Along with the aforementioned soundtracks, this set includes the following items:

– six doubled sided postcard sized German lobby cards- one side with El Topo and the other with The Holy Mountain
– a 78-page booklet, filled with essays on each of the four movies
– a doubled-sided poster with  original poster artwork- one side with El Topo and the other with The Holy Mountain
– reversible Blu ray covers, with one side the standard color-coded artwork and the other with the original poster artwork

As far as the bonus features on the actual Blu ray discs, they vary with each movie- so more on those later. For the record, each movie (with the exception of Psychomagic) has the following extras:

– Jodorowsky Remembers…- new interviews filmed in 2019 with Jodorowsky about each movie
– Introductions from Richard Pena, Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University
– Audio commentary from Jodorowsky
– Original trailer
– Image galleries

THE MOVIES
Given that this is a set of movies, the rest of this review will done movie-by-movie.

Fando y Lis posterFando y Lis (1968)
Based on the Fernando Arrabal play, Jodorowsky’s first feature film tells the tale of a man named Fando and his paraplegic lover Lis- as they embark on a surreal journey to the mythical city of Tar. With this being Jodorowsky’s first movie, he hadn’t really established his own style in filmmaking yet. Watching this movie, it’s similar to the surrealism found in Fellini and Bergman films. While mostly a plotless movie, Fando y Lis still has this charm to it- in terms of the surreal sequences, its low budget and the acting. It’s also the lone Jodorowsky movie that was filmed in black-and-white- when the man is known for having colorful cinematography. It’s not a classic but it’s still worth viewing.

Bonus features:  Jodorowsky’s 1957 short film La Cravate and the feature length 1994 Louis Mouchet directed documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky. Both of these features were included in the original 2007 box set, although the former was on a DVD of its own. The 1994 documentary is a decent feature- which is somewhat of a career spanning movie on Jodorowsky.  There are also portions of the documentary devoted to discussion of Jodorowsky’s failed attempt at making Dune and also Jodorowsky’s form of psychotherapy “psychomagic.” Both of these topics would be further discussed in greater detail with the documentaries Jodorowsky’s Dune and Psychomagic, the latter of which is included in this set.
Movie rating: 6/10

el topo posterEl Topo (1970)
Given the failure of Fando y Lis, Jodorwosky thought more people would come to see his next movie- given that it had cowboys in it. Looking back five decades later, he was right: El Topo would quickly attain a cult following- becoming the first Midnight Movie ever. Cited as influential by people such as Peter Gabriel and David Lynch, El Topo is an acid western about the titular gunslinging character. As he roams his way through the desert, he decides to prove himself as the best gunslinger throughout the land. During this journey, he learns about the lives of others while also learning about himself. El Topo is an amazingly beautiful movie- both in message and in cinematography. While not for everyone, this is an all around great movie. This restoration of the movie comes with a new widescreen version of the movie. While purists can still view the movie in its original 1:33:1 aspect ratio, I recommend checking out the new version.

Bonus features:  There’s a brand new feature- The Son of El Topo- an interview with Brontis Jodorowsky, Alejandro’s son and the son of El Topo in the movie. Brontis shares his memories of growing up with his father’s movies, along with his insights on the movies. There’s also the Father of the Midnight Movie feature- which is a short interview with Jodorowsky recycled from the 2007 DVD.
Rating: 8/10

the holy mountain movie posterThe Holy Mountain (1973)
With the help of John Lennon and Yoko Ono getting the word out about El Topo, Jodorowsky was set up with Lennon’s manager Allen Klein. Klein helped fund the budget for Jodorowsky’s next movie, which was yet another mind bending acid trip. The Holy Mountain follows a character simply known as the thief, who roams around the land- experiencing what humanity has to offer. He soon meets the Alchemist, who turns the thief’s excrement into gold- telling him he can become something better. With that, the Alchemist brings together a group of powerful figures- taking them on a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain- which is where they can gain the power of immortality. Compared to El TopoThe Holy Mountain is far more complex- with its use of tarot cards and its clever satires of society. Like El Topo, this isn’t for everyone as it can get very bizarre. With the money provided by Allen Klein, Jodorowsky was able to make a movie that many consider to be his quintessential effort.

Bonus features: Two new features- an interview with Pablo Leder, Jodorowsky’s personal assistant from 1969-72 and a video essay by writer Ben Cobb called “The A to Z of the Holy Mountain.” There’s also 26 minutes worth of newly discovered outtakes- albeit without sound. This also contains some of the 2007 DVD extras- such as deleted scenes w/ commentary and a short film entitled The Tarot.
Movie rating: 8/10

Psychomagic posterPsychomagic- A Healing Art (2019)
Based on Jodorowsky’s book of the same name, Psychomagic is a documentary about the titular psychotherapy Jodorowsky practices. The documentary plays out by showing several different people stuck in a hard time in their life. Jodorowsky then has these patients take part in psychotherapy- which can range from something as simple as smashing a pumpkin with an axe to release their rage or something extreme such as getting naked to conquer a certain kind of fear. It’s a bizarre yet fascinating glimpse inside of non traditional medical treatment. Similar to Jodorwosky’s previous movies, Psychomagic is filled with eye catching visuals. While the movie does run out of steam towards the end, this is a solid movie.

For more information on Psychomagic, click here to read my original review on the movie.

Bonus features: none
Movie rating: 7/10

Overall thoughts
As a whole, this new Alejandro Jodorowsky Blu ray box set is an impressive release. ABKCO have almost gone all out with this set of movies. However, the set does have a few downsides. While a good selection of movies, I’m a little surprised that some of Jodorowsky’s other movies weren’t included. Obviously, who owns the rights to each movie is a deciding factor- so a movie like Sante Sangre isn’t in this set. Still, Jodorowsky’s duology of The Dance of Reality (2013) and Endless Poetry (2016), both distributed by ABKCO, aren’t present here. However, given they are movies from the last decade, they more than likely didn’t need to be cleaned up. Then again, some might question why Psychomagic was included in the set. Nevertheless, this is still an amazing box set of movies. If you’re a film buff and/or a diehard fan of Jodorowsky’s work but might be on the fence about paying the $70-something price tag, I recommend going for it: you’re really getting your money’s worth of content here.

 

review Richard II

 

For more on ABKCO Records, visit their website by clicking here.

For more information on Jodorowsky, visit his page on the ABKCO site by clicking here.

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Aaron ConnBlu Ray Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky Box Set