Thursday, June 12, 2008

Film and Surrealism

There really isn't anything like a difficult movie that makes me really understand how truly little I know about film-making. I was skeptical about watching El Topo at first; what is representational surrealism without the influence of Dali? I expected the usual: phallic imagery, ants, thin-legged elephants. It's surprising how easily Alejandro Jodorowsky avoided typical surrealist clichés.

I also expected relative boredom. Does anyone seem to watch this film without massive amounts of weed? Answer: no, and I am in short (a.k.a. lacking) supply. But I attempted watching a surrealist film sober, and strangely enough, was captivated throughout. That in itself means that there are things in this movie so variously interpretable that it keeps you guessing. For example, why is it called, "the mole?" What does the movie say about fatherhood? Is it sexist? Is there even a message at all?

And must surrealism be "interpreted" in the first place? I'll say no. Who cares what Magritte's lion means in "Homesickness" (1940), or Dali's infamous ants? I'm not saying to disregard allegory. "El Topo" is all allegory, but is infinitely vast. Is it a spiritual journey? A biblical allegory? A statement about the human condition? A portrayal of essential human archetypes? Or just a freakishly cool Western on an acid trip? Maybe, maybe not. But really it doesn't matter. Beauty-- now beauty's the thing.

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