Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Mexico/USA, 1973. Producciones Zohar, ABKCO Films. Screenplay by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Cinematography by Rafael Corkidi. Produced by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roberto Viskin. Music by Don Cherry, Ronald Frangipane, Alejandro Jodorowsky. Production Design by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Costume Design by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nicky Nichols. Film Editing by Federico Landeros.
A Christlike thief traverses a strange landscape until coming into the presence of an alchemist, who then introduces him to seven figures representing planets of the solar system. They tell the stranger their names and their purpose before the group voyages together to a revered mountain to replace its gods and take over as keepers of the world’s enlightenment. This stunning trip through the imagination of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (who appears as the alchemist) is as insanely out there as drug-induced early seventies arthouse hippie cinema could possibly be, but unlike other films that are perpetually looking for ways to expand the mind while only maintaining a loose hold on narrative form, it’s never frustrating or boring. The gorgeous sets built in stunning Mexican landscapes are still bright and colourful so many years after it was made, while whatever story strands involved are actually visible and not too hard to follow: this isn’t Pasolini’s didactic grotesquerie, imagine instead if Fellini Satyricon wasn’t trying so hard to be meaningful. To be fair, it’s also not a film for the less adventurous, many of its stronger images and comfort with nudity enough to put unwilling audiences off (including George Harrison, who was originally hired as the lead until he decided he just didn’t want to have his anus washed in front of a camera).