Endless Poetry

 

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The veteran Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky continues his life story in his unique way.

 
Endless Poetry
 

Anyone who stumbles on this film by chance knowing nothing of its writer/director the octogenarian Alejandro Jodorowsky will find it a bizarre and surprising experience. In contrast, those familiar with his work will, especially if they saw its predecessor The Dance of Reality (2013), find that Endless Poetry is simply more of the same, although Jodorowsky’s same is quite distinct from anybody else’s. This is in fact a second instalment of autobiography looking back on the filmmaker’s youthful years in Santiago during the 1930s. That means that we see him first as a boy and then as a young man struggling to embrace his vision of himself as a poet. His brutal, homophobic father regarded all poets - indeed all artists - as faggots and, although Alejandro was staunchly heterosexual, that made it all the more difficult to assert himself and to embark on becoming the man - the artist - who would be his true self.

 

In due course we follow Alejandro’s adventures with other poets, both male and female, and with other artists embracing a bohemian life-style, but when at the film’s conclusion he leaves Chile for Paris he is still in quest of his personal voice. All of this might well have provided rich material for a standard biopic. However, Jodorowsky adopts a surrealist approach and, as in The Dance of Reality, creates a stylised world that once again echoes Fellini, Bunuel and Jacques Demy (although Jodorowsky’s mother sings most of her words instead of speaking them, this time around the so-called ‘justification’ for this - that she wanted to be a singer - is not mentioned).

 

This time the brilliant colour comes courtesy of Christopher Doyle but Jodorowsky remains his own man, a  true artist but one whose work may attract more through its striking surface than by its depth and who will irritate some audiences beyond measure (as he adds another splash of colour, another touch of nudity and another non-realistic flourish, he certainly suggests somebody who would resent any suggestion that a more traditional style of storytelling might have added to the impact of his tale).

 

Once again members of Jodorowsky’s family feature both in the cast and behind the scenes (the lead actor is his son Adan) but Pamela Flores, who previously appeared just as the mother, now takes on a second role, that of a powerful poetess, and the contrast enables her to make a far stronger impression. Meanwhile Adan also provides the original music which in addition extends to striking use of works by Stravinsky and Sibelius as well as to Irving Berlin’s 'Cheek to Cheek'. Ultimately any film as individual as this has to be a matter of taste when it comes to responses and the personal authenticity of the style is now inevitably less fresh than in The Dance of Reality. But, for better or worse, a late scene stands out: this is when the stylisation enables us to see Jodorowsky himself re-arranging the past so that his parting for the last time from his difficult father involves the latter being forgiven in line with what Jodorowsky feels now but not what he felt then. For the first time, the chosen method achieves something valuable that could be brought off in no other way.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Adan Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Brontis Jodorowsky, Leandro Taub, Jeremias Herkovits, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Julia Avendaño, Carolyn Carson, Adonis, Bastián Bodenhöfer.

 

Dir Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pro Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moises Cosio, Abbas Nokhasteh and Takashi Asai, Screenplay Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ph Christopher Doyle, Pro Des Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ed Maryline Monthieuz, Music Adan Jodorowsky, Costumes Pacale Montandon-Jodorowsky.

 

Satori Films/Le Soleil Films/Le Pacte/Detalle Films/Openvizor/Uplink-Curzon Artificial Eye.
128 mins.
Chile/France/UK/Japan. 2016. Rel: 6 January 2017. Cert. 15.