El Topo (1970)

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    • El Topo (1970)

      EL TOPO



      Plot Summary
      El Topo decides to confront warrior Masters on a trans-formative desert journey he begins with his 6 year old son, who must bury his childhood totems to become a man. El Topo (the mole) claims to be God, while dressed as a gunfighter in black, riding a horse through a spiritual, mystical landscape strewn with old Western movie, and ancient Eastern religious symbols. Bandits slaughtered a village on his path, so El Topo avenges the massacred, then forcibly takes their leader's woman Mara as his. El Topo's surreal way is bloody, sexual and self-reflective, musing of his own demons, as he tries to vanquish those he encounters.
      Written by David Stevens

      Alejandro Jodorowsky ... El Topo
      Brontis Jodorowsky ... Hijo
      José Legarreta ... Moribundo
      Alfonso Arau ... Bandido 1
      José Luis Fernández ... Bandido 2
      Ali Junco ... Bandido 3 (as Alí Junco)
      Gerardo Zepeda ... Bandido 4 (as Gerardo Cepeda)
      René Barrera ... Bandido 5
      René Alís ... Bandido 6
      Federico Gonzáles ... Bandido 7
      Vicente Lara ... Bandido 8
      Pablo Leder ... Monje 1
      Giuliano Girini Sasseroli ... Monje 2
      CCristian Merkel ... Monje 3
      Aldo Grumelli ... Monje 4
      Mara Lorenzio ... La mujer
      David Silva ... Coronel
      Ignacio Martínez España ... Manco
      Eliseo Gardea Saucedo ... Cojo
      Héctor Martínez ... Maestro 1 (as Hector Martinez 'El Borrado')
      Paula Romo ... Desconocida
      Bertha Lomelí ... Gitana (as Berta Lomeli)
      Juan José Gurrola ... Maestro 2
      Víctor Fosado ... Maestro 3
      Agustín Isunza ... Maestro 4
      Jacqueline Luis ... Mujercita
      Carlos Lavenant ... Verdugo 1
      Eliseo Pereda ... Verdugo 2
      Pablo Marichal ... Esclavo
      Beatriz Beltrán Lobo ... Señora 1
      Carmen Lamadrid ... Señora 2
      Pepita González ... Señora 3
      Cecilia Leger ... Señora 4 (as Cecilia Leguer)
      Elvira Agosti ... Señora 5
      Antonio Álvarez ... Prisonero 1 (as Antonio Alvarez)
      and many, many more...

      Alejandro Jodorowsky ... (as Alexandro Jodorowsky)

      Writing Credits
      Alejandro Jodorowsky ... (written by) (as Alexandro Jodorowsky)

      Juan López Moctezuma ... associate producer
      Moshe Rosemberg ... associate producer (as Moishe Rosemberg)
      Saúl Rosemberg ... associate producer
      Roberto Viskin ... associate producer / executive producer
      Mick Gochanour ... producer (uncredited)

      Alejandro Jodorowsky ... (as Alexandro Jodorowsky)

      Rafael Corkidi ... director of photography

      Other noteworthy figures said to be fans of the film, besides John Lennon and Yoko Ono, include directors David Lynch and Samuel Fuller, actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, and performers Bob Dylan, Marilyn Manson, and Peter Gabriel. It has been claimed that this movie was the beginning of Gabriel's inspiration for the classic Genesis concept album, 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'.

      First released as an underground film, it was thanks to John Lennon that the film acquired a worldwide distribution. He was so impressed by this movie that he urged a close friend of his to buy the rights and take charge of distribution.

      Years later, Alejandro Jodorowsky, ashamed of the part he forced his own son to play, invited him to his house. He went with his son to the backyard and asked him to dig. Inside the hole, there was an old teddy bear and an old picture of his mother, and Alexandro said: "Now you are 8 years old, and you have the right to be a kid".

      Alejandro Jodorowsky said the film was not intended to be a comedy, a tragedy, a political film or a religious film. It was everything.

      Since the early 90's, Jodorowsky has been attempting to make a sequel to "El Topo," originally called "The Sons Of El Topo" (Los Hijos Del Topo). Sometime between 1996-2002, this was changed to "Abelcain," due to ownership disputes with Allen Klein. Additionally, the name of the character El Topo (The Mole) was changed to 'El Toro' (The Bull). Jodorowsky stated, "I am now working on a Franco-Canadian production called Abelcain, which is a new version of the same project. The character El Topo has become El Toro. A single slash added on letter P changed a subterranean rat into a charging bull." A 2002 article in The Guardian had stated that long-time Jodorowsky fan Marilyn Manson was attached to star in the film as Cain. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the plot would follow Cain as he teams up with his long-lost brother Abel to battle an enemy adept at technological witchery, and in doing so overcome the curse that marks their destiny. In 1996, a teaser poster was released, even though no footage had actually been shot. However, due to Jodorowsky's difficulty to raise money for the project, as of 2007, the project appears to have been put on hold indefinitely.

      Used sets left over from Day of the Evil Gun (1968).

      The title of the movie and the main character's name are a metaphor of the underground cinema in the sixties. The mole digs holes so as to emerge from the underground to the surface. This was happening with some low-budget movies that quickly gained mainstream popularity.

      After decades of speculation, a sequel to the film, titled "The Sons of El Topo", was finally released in 2016, not as a film, but as a graphic novel, published in France by Glenat BD.

      Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.

      The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.

      Entertainment Weekly ranked this Number 11 on their "Guilty Pleasures: Testosterone Edition" list in their March 30, 2007, issue.

      During the scene in which El Topo's female companion tries to drink water from a river, only to discover that it is bitter in taste, El Topo tells her that Moses found water in the desert and that the people tried drinking it but that it was bitter and so they called it "marah". In Hebrew, "marah" means "bitter". Marah is also one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been traveled through by the Israelites during the Exodus

      Crazy Credits
      Showing one item
      The closing credits in the English-dubbed version of El Topo state that ABKCO Films copyrighted the film in 1967; however, ABKCO didn't purchase (any rights to) it until June of 1971!

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Cañón de la Huasteca, Santa Catarina, Nuevo León, Mexico
      Grutas de Villa García, Nuevo León, Mexico
      Bavispe, Sonora, Mexico
      Samalayuca, Chihuahua, Mexico
      Durango, Mexico
      Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
      Torreón, Coahuíla, Mexico
      Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
      Estudios América, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico (studio)
      Huivulay, Mexico
      Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico
      Pedriceña, Durango, Mexico
      San Luis Potosí, Mexico
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 5 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • El Topo (1970)

      El Topo (English language: "The Mole") is a 1970 Mexican western drama film written,
      scored, directed by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky.
      Characterized by its bizarre characters and occurrences, use of maimed and dwarf performers,
      and heavy doses of Christian symbolism and Eastern philosophy,
      the film is about the eponymous character – a violent, black-clad gunfighter –
      and his quest for enlightenment.
      The film is considered an early example of the Acid Western subgenre.

      Rape scene
      In regard to the filming of the rape scene, Jodorowsky said,

      When I wanted to do the rape scene, I explained to [Mara Lorenzio] that I was going to hit her and rape her. There was no emotional relationship between us, because I had put a clause in all the women's contracts stating that they would not make love with the director. We had never talked to each other. I knew nothing about her. We went to the desert with two other people: the photographer and a technician. No one else. I said, 'I'm not going to rehearse. There will be only one take because it will be impossible to repeat. Roll the cameras only when I signal you to.' Then I told her, 'Pain does not hurt. Hit me.' And she hit me. I said, 'Harder.' And she started to hit me very hard, hard enough to break a rib... I ached for a week. After she had hit me long enough and hard enough to tire her, I said, 'Now it's my turn. Roll the cameras.' And I really... I really... I really raped her. And she screamed."

      He went on to state, "Then she told me that she had been raped before. You see, for me the character is frigid until El Topo rapes her. And she has an orgasm. That's why I show a stone phallus in that scene . . . which spouts water. She has an orgasm. She accepts the male sex. And that's what happened to Mara in reality. She really had that problem. Fantastic scene. A very, very strong scene."can entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 44th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

      Phil Hardy, in his Encyclopedia of Western Movies (1985), wrote of El Topo:

      "Rather in the manner of Federico Fellini, whose self-conscious conflation of the roles of charlatan and ringmaster of the unconscious Jodorowsky apes, the film is a breathtaking concoction of often striking, but more often ludicrous, images. The result is a movie that, though it impressed many at the time of its original release, in retrospect is clearly a minor, albeit often very funny work.

      Some critics, including Gary Arnold of The Washington Post and Times-Herald, were offended by the film's visuals. Arnold wrote of the film:

      "There's not enough art to justify the sickening reality of Jodorowsky's artistic method. The meaning of the film is not to be found in the mystical camouflage of the gunfighter-turned-guru-and-martyr (for what, one wonders? Evidently self-aggrandizement rather than the well-being of his congregation of the deformed), but in the picturesque horrors and humiliations."

      The visuals were the main point of contention amongst El Topo's critics, who debated if the sequences and montage were meaningful or merely exploitative. Concerning the symbolism within the film, Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote:

      "They're all there, in a movie that is all guts (quite literally) but that has no body to give the guts particular shape or function."

      Canby found the film to be a con. Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune commented on how the visuals were perceived within the framework of drug culture. Siskel's review states:

      "Under the influence, El Topo becomes a violent, would-be erotic freakshow, and that, I suppose, can be very heavy. For others, it is enough to make one yawn."

      Other critics, however, remain more enthusiastic about the film. For example, Roger Ebert includes El Topo in his Great Movies series.

      Peter Schjeldahl, writing for the New York Times, described the film as "a very strange masterpiece". His review states:

      "On first blush it might seem no more than a violent surreal fantasy, a work of fabulous but probably deranged imagination. Surreal and crazy it may be, but it is also (one realizes the second time through) as fully considered and ordered as fine clockwork."

      The out-of-print El Topo: A Book of the Film contains a lengthy interview with a director that attempts to explain some of the film's visuals. It also contains the screenplay of the film. Both appear on the Subterranean Cinema blog

      Noteworthy figures said to be fans of the film include directors David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn and Samuel Fuller; video game writer and director Suda 51; actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper; comedians The Mighty Boosh and Patton Oswalt; and performers Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Marilyn Manson, Jarvis Cocker, Peter Gabriel, George Harrison, Lucia Lee, and John Lennon.[ Gabriel has claimed that this movie was an inspiration for the classic Genesis concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, while collaborator Jared Eckman described the film as a failed experiment. John Barham re-recorded the score for release on Apple Records at the request of John Lennon. Suda 51 cited El Topo as a key inspiration for his game No More Heroes. Gore Verbinski cited it as an influence on Rango.

      There was no original intention to show El Topo in Mexico, where it was filmed and produced.Ben Barenholtz, an owner of a local theater called The Elgin, saw a private screening of El Topo at the Museum of Modern Art. Barenholtz recalled that despite several audience members walking out, he was fascinated by El Topo. On a failing attempt to purchase the American rights to the film, Barenholtz convinced the producer to have the film shown at midnight at The Elgin.
      Barenholtz chose the late showings of 1am on Friday and at Midnight during the week which would give audiences a sense of "self-discovery". The film premiered on December 17, 1970 and ran continuously seven days a week until the end of June 1971.

      The film was distributed across the United States with the assistance of Allen Klein, manager of The Beatles The film was shown late at night like it was at The Elgin. It has been argued[where?] that without support from people like John Lennon and Allen Klein, the film would not have found a sizeable audience.

      Home video releases
      For many years the film could only be seen at midnight screenings, in arthouses and via partially censored Japanese laserdiscs and bootlegged videos. Its official DVD release was on May 1, 2007. Its first Blu-ray release was on April 26, 2011.

      Main article: Abel Cain
      Since at least the early 1990s, Jodorowsky has been attempting to make a sequel to El Topo. In 1996, a teaser poster was released, but, apparently, no shooting was actually done. The original working-title, The Sons of El Topo (Los hijos del Topo), was changed (sometime between 1996 and 2002) to Abelcaín, due to disputes over ownership with Allen Klein. Additionally, the name of the character El Topo (The Mole) was changed to "El Toro" (The Bull). Jodorowsky said of this: "I am now working on a Franco-Canadian production called Abelcaín, which is a new version of the same project. The character El Topo has become El Toro. A single slash added on letter P changed a subterranean rat into a charging bull. For a true artist, difficulties become opportunities. And clouds become solid present."

      A 2002 article in The Guardian stated that Marilyn Manson was attached to star in the film, but that Jodorowsky was having great difficulty raising money for the project. In an interview for The Guardian in November 2009, Jodorowsky stated that his next rumoured project, a "metaphysical western" entitled King Shot, is "not happening" and instead he is to begin work on Son of El Topo, in collaboration with "some Russian producers".

      In 2016 the sequel was released in comic book form under the name Sons of El Topo,
      in a miniseries written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by José Ladrönn.

      User Review

      A religious allegorical western of redemption with surrealist imagery.
      12 July 2005 | by NateManD (Bloomsburg PA)

      nate wrote:

      "El Topo", is probably Jodorowsky's most talked about film next to "Santa Sangre". Like all his films it is bizarre and full of symbolism. El Topo is a cowboy dressed in black. He is out for vengeance, kind of like the Biblical God of the old testament. Him and his son ride through a town of massacred civilians. He wants justice and to win the heart of a girl, Mara. He gives up his only son, in an act that could be looked at like God, or even Abraham. He has to kill seven master gunfighters. After all the violence and carnage, he is injured and taken under the care of cripples, dwarfs and other various misfits. He is reborn, almost like a Bhuddist monk. He becomes like the new testament God, Jesus Christ. El Topo is now like a savior to the oppressed. He vows to dig a tunnel out of the cave so the cripples can live among the villagers. The town is taken over by religious fanatics. Poor villagers are branded with the religious icon by force. An upper class of elitists now dominate the town. "El Topo" is beautiful, and chocked full of violent and disturbing imagery. The film became a popular cult sensation in the early 70's. It was embraced by the likes of John Lennon, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. More recently celebrities like Marilyn Manson and the Coen Brothers have talked about being strongly influenced by Jodorowsky's work. "El Topo" is important, because it was the first midnight movie. If people could forget about "the Rocky Horror Picture Show" just for a second, they'd realize that this is one of the most important cult films. A bizarre and surreal western that can never be imitated. The only 3 surreal westerns I can think of to pre-date "El Topo" that have many similarities are Brazilian director Glauber Rocha's "Black God, White Devil" (1964) and his follow up "Antonio Das Mortes" (1969) and the Italian Spaghetti western "Django, Kill if you Live, Shoot" (1967).
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 4 times, last by ethanedwards ().