A 1971 Interview With Alejandro Jodorowsky on ‘El Topo,’ the Psychedelic, Genre-Bending Midnight Movie


By Sven Mikulec

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo just might be the weirdest, most bizarre, genre-bending film we’ve ever seen. This 1970 mystical western-disguised, symbol-ridden epic exploration of spirituality, religion and self-realization practically disappeared not long after it had its premiere, and has been kept in hiding thanks to a legal dispute between Jodorowsky and the former Beatles manager Allen Klein. Delighted by Jodorowsky’s psychedelic vision that found its grateful audience in the counterculture movement, John Lennon and Yoko Ono allegedly convinced the band’s manager Klein to acquire the rights for the film, while Lennon himself gave Jodorowsky one million dollars to finance his next movie, The Holy Mountain. Ironically, the same man that made El Topo‘s distribution possible in the first place was also the main reason the film disappeared from sight for almost four decades, as Klein and Jodorowsky fell out over some erotic film (The Story of O) that the agent was keen on making. Offended, Klein simply refused to show Jodorowsky’s films and the director slowly evaporated from the scene. After the dispute was resolved in a touching embrace of two old friends, El Topo managed to reach a much wider audience with its great 2007 DVD release. What enchanted Lennon, Marilyn Manson, David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn, Roger Waters, Bob Dylan and many others, and what gained a solid cult following, was now available to the general public and the stature of this indisputable classic that polarized the critics back in the seventies grew even stronger. Whatever you think of Jodorowsky and the objective quality of his films, the one account all film lovers seem to agree upon is how unique he really is: an avant-garde filmmaker, an uncompromising artist who uses the celluloid to express himself like so few others are willing to do. Almost half a century after it was born, El Topo rides on.

What we prepared for you today is a scan of a rare 1971 interview that Jodorowsky gave to The Staff writer Don Strachan, in which he discusses the making of El Topo, what he wanted to do with such an unusual picture, what inspired him to make it and what influenced and shaped his view on humanity, society and religion. This thrilling read is brought to you by a great Tumblr called Babylon Falling, where you can find many other priceless articles. Find the time to read Jodorowsky’s thoughts on El Topo, a movie like no other, now recognized as the film that ignited the theatrical midnight film movement. The practice of showing B movies or cult films at midnight at cinemas or on TV maybe started a couple of decades before Jodorowsky made his leather-wearing lone gunman epic, but it was El Topo that popularized the genre, adding historical importance to the list of the film’s qualities.


San Francisco street poet Jack Hirschman reviews Jodorowsky’s El Topo.


Abkco Music & Records and Unbox Industries are proud to announce a series of licensed limited edition figurines based on the film works of one of the world’s most unique & provocative creatives, Alejandro Jodorowsky. The highly respected sculptor Andrea Blasich worked closely with ABKCO and Jodorowsky to ensure the figurines are as realistic as possible to their characters from the films.


“When I make a picture, I don’t make a picture like a moviemaker, I make a picture like an artist, or like a human being. For me, back then, it was very important to do it. And now I have changed, it’s not the same. But I still respect that picture completely: it is what it is—but it is not me anymore. When I made the picture, I felt as though the picture was my father, and now I feel as though the picture is my son. I am here to speak about a son—but it is not important for me now. The umbilical line has been cut, it is not me anymore. But I like it, I am not ashamed of it.” —The Mole Man: Going Underground with Alejandro Jodorowsky

After a sold-out screening of El Topo at the Walter Reade Theater, director Alexander Jodorowsky sat down with Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Richard Peña to discuss his unorthodox preparation for the production of the film, the influence of theater on his fimmaking, and the overt symbolism of his masterpiece.


Arrow Video is proud to present three cinematic masterpieces from legendary Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky—El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Fando y Lis. Newly restored in 4K from the original negatives and back on the big screen for a limited time. All three titles will also be released as a Limited Edition Blu-ray set in March 2020.


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