El Topo (1970)
A bizarre, ultra-violent, allegorical Western, "El Topo" is set in two halves that have widely been compared to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. In the first half, Jodorowsky plays a violent, black-clad gunfighter who, accompanied by his naked son, sets off on a murderous mission to challenge four Zen masters of gunfighting, and learns from each of them a Great Lesson before they die. In the second half, El Topo sets out to find personal redemption, secluding himself in a subterranean community to learn the ways of peace, but unfortunately death is never far away. First released as an underground film, it was thanks to John Lennon that the film was acquired by Allen Klein of ABKCO, who bought the rights to "El Topo" and then financed Alejandro Jodorowsky's next film "The Holy Mountain." … More
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for El Topo
The film is by turns comic and profound, hysterical and pompous, fully complex enough to deserve more than a simple yea or nay.
The movie's lure is sensual and unflagging; that's what makes it, for all its arty absurdity, the last great movie of the 1960s.
This is gutbucket Luis Buñuel , surrealism on the cheap, and it hasn't dated well -- the blood is patently fake and the gunshots are dubbed.
You may find it a tiresome, macho relic -- or a ragtag circus wandering through a fantasy realm part Treasure of the Sierra Madre, part Tolkien's Middle-earth.
With style constantly contradicting content, and the prevailing mood redolent of egotism and misogyny, it leaves one the feeling of having waded through a full-blown fantasy where even the self-degradation emerges as just another form of narcissism.
[VIDEO ESSAY] For all of its easily mocked elements, "El Topo" is a work of mad cinematic genius that sticks.
... the story of 'El Topo' proves too scattered and weak to bear its digressions and vague symbols that suggest everything, anything and nothing.
Has lost little of the maddening, bewildering weirdness that made it a seminal midnight-movie phenomenon.
its mixture of genre revisionism, religious mysticism, and shocking visuals felt new and wild and meaningful, at least to those who wanted to see it that way.
Alejandro Jodorowsky may be full of it, but I'm thankful that he spread it -- whatever it is -- across the screen in 'El Topo.'
While I truly do doubt that modern viewer will have much use for Jodorowsky's dated spiritual philosophy, the style with wich he expresses that philosophy is often quite exciting.
A dated counterculture goulash long hyped as art by a blank generation desperate for something different.
As perplexing as large parts of it are, the film certainly isn't boring. And it's kind of fun trying to figure out what it's all supposed to mean.
a mystic trip through political, religious and philosophical terrains, gunning down all normative notions of what the western - or indeed Western civilisation - is supposed to be.
For the adventurous viewer, El Topo is a bizarre, colorful, unforgettable experience.
haunting and haunted, flitting at the edges of Jodorowsky's masculine fantasy
Without the aid of mind-expanding narcotics though, El Topo can't help looking laughably ramshackle, the combination of bad dubbing, shoddy camerawork and over-the-top performances making it pretty much unwatchable by modern standards.
One things for sure, they certainly don't make 'em like this any more. Nor, I suspect, would anyone want them to.
Audience Reviews for El Topo
Alejandro Jodorowsky crafts a stunning, visceral and action packed Western film that can actually be compared to some of the genres finest works. El Topo is a great film, a film that is unprecedented in its raw energy, and fluid direction. Cult director Judorowsky also acts, and he delivers a film that is remarkable in the way that it showcases its violence. No other Western has taken such an approach as Jodorowsky. Brilliantly shot, acted and with a great story, this is a fine picture that is almost a forgotten classic of the genre. As far as Westerns are concerns, I would call El Topo as one of the finest along with Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and The Wild Bunch. The film should definitely be rediscovered by genre fans, but due to some of its striking images, this may not appeal to everyone. If you're looking for something a bit different in the genre, El Topo is that film to watch. Alejandro Jodorowsky is a terrific filmmaker, and he doesn't compromise whatsoever. His vision is striking, unrelenting, and the sheer raw power of El Topo will grab your attention from the moment in starts. The story is well crafted and it is a film that resonates well, as Jodorowsky crafts a film that is very unique in the Western genre, a film that displays certain ideas that are the director's trademark. El Topo is a pleasant film, one that ranks among the finest in the genre, and if you've enjoyed many of the Spaghetti Westerns, you'll surely enjoy this one. The film has a raw power that makes it memorable due to its visuals, and you are simply enthralled at what you are watching. If you enjoy obscured, cult cinema, then El Topo is a film very well worth your time.More
Though always intriguing and making use of stunning visuals and an evoking atmosphere, this esoteric Western of religious references is still an unripe Jodorowsky, clearly lacking in narrative structure before he started developing better his ideas in later works.More
An unique western classic full of surrealist, violence and symbols. El Topo is a mistical work that tells the redemption of a gunslinger that look for perfection, but just find his ending. After this we met a different face of El Topo that, again bring he to his strange end.More
Discuss El Topo on our Movie forum!