El Topo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

El Topo Reviews

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August 7, 2017
Jodorowsky hadn't quite gone of the deep end yet with El Topo. The story is a lot more linear than in The Holy Mountain, although it still has some really bizarre (and apparently supernatural) characters and events that keep reminding you that it's still coming from the director whose next movie would feature a man siting in a giant bong breathing in steamed feces in order to perform alchemy.
½ August 3, 2017
El Topo is a Spanish Western about the journey of a man exploring in a world of pain, death, and sorrow. Throughout the whole film there are religious themes being tackled such as "Does Religion Control Society?", "Does It Cause More Pain Than Joy?", "Is There No Right Way To Express Religion Without Harm?", etc. The film does a great job expressing these thoughts through visuals, but I kept getting distracted by the editing errors and the dubbed dialogue. The dubbed dialogue would be played in outside scenes and it sounded like the characters were inside if you close your eyes. The budget of the film was only $1 million so I can understand them not having time to retake some scenes or having good enough audio. There are also small parts of some scenes that seem random and pretentious and I can't seem to figure why they were in the film. Even though it has technical issues and small out of place scenes, El Topo is still a good art film.
7.5/10
July 19, 2017
While some may find it weird, El Topo is a film whose philosophies long follow viewers long after they've seen it. Alejandro Jodorowsky's vision warns against seeking for truth through either answers or enlightenment. Through allegories comparing thoughts on religion, sex, and violence, we see our main character setting off on a quest which only leads to more confusion before stepping back, focusing his chi, and works toward redemption. The way the imagery shocks, the way the messages are conveyed, and the way every character acts and reacts. This makes this cinematic masterpiece a mystery that's there to baffle upon first viewing, but linger on in the memory waiting for the moment we feel we've unraveled it.
May 12, 2017
El Topo has been described as an 'acid western', so veiwed in that context, I could suspend my disbelief somewhat with its countless surrealist gunfights and gratuitous violence. There are also undertones of Lesbian fetishism, Freudian symbolism and an overall carnival-like atmosphere that even Fellini would be proud of. Where does it fail, however? Well, given the aforementioned, I still could not grasp its story in any way, shape or form. That is not to say that it has no form. The titular character is certainly on some kind of journey, spiritual or perhaps just personal, I was never quite sure. It is great to look at, despite the imagery being often hard to stomache and perhaps it is a movie that demands repeat veiwings to fully comprehend its message and significance. For now and for film-making alone, I will settle with 3 stars but watch this space!
April 21, 2017
El Topo has been described as an 'acid western', so veiwed in that context, I could suspend my disbelief somewhat with its countless surrealist gunfights and gratuitous violence. There are also undertones of Lesbian fetishism, Freudian symbolism and an overall carnival-like atmosphere that even Fellini would be proud of. Where does it fail, however? Well, given the aforementioned, I still could not grasp its story in any way, shape or form. That is not to say that it has no form. The titular character is certainly on some kind of journey, spiritual or perhaps just personal, I was never quite sure. It is great to look at, despite the imagery being often hard to stomache and perhaps it is a movie that demands repeat veiwings to fully comprehend its message and significance. For now and for film-making alone, I will settle with 3 stars but watch this space!
February 2, 2017
It's great 4 part story a must watch
½ January 18, 2017
First half is pure perfection with its surreal images, philosophical themes and visually striking cinematography and violence, second half stutters a little bit with its tone and pace, but still delivers a fine conclusion. Cult cinema at its most bizarre.
January 13, 2017
This was fascinating. Alejandro Jodorowsky uses allegory and religious iconography to tell his redemptions tales. The use of symbolism and imagery was amazing. but, be aware this film runs 2 hr 5 min, not the 95 listed.
December 18, 2016
En un prometedor inicio, el pistolero emprende junto a su aprendiz la búsqueda de la iluminación. Recorren establos con cadáveres humanos y animales por todos lados, colgados y en el suelo. Más adelante en el desierto están los mariachis, escenas notablemente desagradables los muestran metiéndose a la boca tacones y piedras que en el suelo dibujan un pubis. La ansiedad provocada por ausencia femenina está presente también en el campamento jesuíta, donde soldados disfrazan, maquillan, besan y bailan con los misioneros cautivos. El descubrimiento de la religión y del sexo opuesto por parte del pistolero marca el punto en que se pone patético tanto él como la película. La mujer que ha remplazado al niño lo manda batallar maestros pistoleros para merecerla, tipo Scott Pilgrim, y el pistolero gana y gana con puras trampas. Una vez finalizada la campaña de duelos, las mujeres lo repudian por las trampas que le incentivaron a cometer, y lo abandonan. Cabe mencionar que a esta altura han sonado ya más balazos de los que se puede tolerar en una sola película. El pistolero se reinventa a sí mismo y se propone liberar a una comunidad de discapacitados que está prisionera en una cueva. 4/10
September 6, 2016
It's stylish and interesting, with some parts worth reflecting on, but the lack of narrative ends up dismantling this movie.
August 17, 2016
How does one rate El Topo? It may be impossible. It may be considered cheap trash to many, and to others, such as John Lennon, the greatest film of all time. I personally find it the most bizarre film ever produced. It truly is a colossal work of epic proportions by Jodorowsky, as he directed, wrote and starred in this film.

There is only one El Topo. The film is allegorical and cannot be taken literally and visually for what is displayed. It is an underground masterpiece still revered to this day by the art crowd. All cinema students should challenge themselves to watch this, as it will knock their developing instincts for a loop.

I neither liked nor despised this film. Rather, I found it fascinating and unique. Good luck in sitting through the entire film!
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2016
Though always intriguing and making use of stunning visuals and an evocative 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.
March 4, 2016
This well known "cult classic" from Alejandro Jodorowsky was one of the first films to start the midnight screening phenomenon, it played for month in some theatres. that being said, it just wasn't for me. It's a very bizarre story, and though it does have some striking images, the lack of a coherent story confounded me. For fans of "cult classics" only.
½ February 8, 2016
Nothing something I'm in a hurry to see again, but certainly intriguing and provoking.
February 5, 2016
In an attempt to gain some level of insight into the twisted mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky, El Topo's legacy as the film that gave him recognition peaked my interest.

Having already witnessed the mind-bending experience of Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain (1973), I was quite aware of what to expect from El Topo. So when the film took off with no clear narrative, the lighthearted soundtrack of an odd comedy movie and the image of a naked young boy, I wasn't surprised. But since El Topo had iconography of a more obvious genre, it seemed like it would offer more coherence. Then again, expecting the unexpected is the only way to handle Alejandro Jodorowsky feature lest you walk away from the experience angry, bored or some other emotion of negativity. Confusion is a definite, but that is part of the grace in the experience.
El Topo is exactly as convoluted, sick and twisted as any Alejandro Jodorowsky fan would expect. It doesn't offer a finite narrative but rather a collection of performance art and installations captured by the lens of a camera. There are all kinds of themes that come with this, predominantly revolving around the titular protagonist on his quest for enlightenment. Viewers can tune in and out of El Topo at random times and will have experienced the narrative as clearly as if they had actively sat and intensively watched the experience as the narrative structure is very loose. The story is not meant for the viewers to string together, it merely hangs in different points for the viewer to enjoy selectively. Alejandro Jodorowsky has a clear vision for this project and supervises the visuals with tenacity while also being responsible for the screenplay and playing the lead character. His dedication to the project is extensively thorough on many levels from behind and in front of the camera, and it certainly shows even if the coherence is as unpredictable as everything else.
Visually, El Topo is a brilliant experience. Alejandro Jodorowsky has a distinctive taste for imagery which is impossible for any other director to match, and against the backdrop of a western landscape the experience is nothing short of breathtaking. The dry western scenery comes with both a feeling of grim death and bright life simultaneously. These feelings sometimes cross paths in the same shot creating a magnificent contrast in composition, almost as if many of the hots are genuine landscape paintings. The feeling of artistry in El Topo is almost overwhelming at times, and it is of such grace that it works to compensate for the narrative most of the time. As a western film, El Topo doesn't stop there. The way that images are structured proves brilliant because the director manages to make use of the same shapes, colours and psychosexual imagery in a different setting this time around. And it is all captured with cinematography that uses a mix of traditional western techniques and genuine atmospheric technique.
The setting is enhanced by the addition of impressive production design and detailed costumes, and the feature doesn't hold back with blood and gore either. It never goes excessive, but what's more impressive is the fact that the light nature of the atmosphere makes the violence seem all the more artistic. This is largely due to Alejandro Jodorowsky's work on the musical score which captures the intended mood very well and maintains its cultural context nicely. The musical score in El Topo is delightfully lighthearted. Though much of the material and imagery could be interpreted as being dark, the musical score consistently reminds audiences to enjoy the experience. Most of the music is energetic and lively, though there are also some restrained and slow moments which carry a gentle grace to them. The fact that Alejandro Jodorowsky accomplished all this on such a low budget gives him the status of some kind of Robert Rodriguez and David Lynch hybrid from an earlier generation, and his achievements with El Topo well exceed the limitations of the narrative grasp.
Yet the imagery in the film is not just reliant on the practical effects, the actors play a key part in this. Alejandra Jodorowsky is the leader of this by portraying El Topo with psychedelic grip over the twisted nature of his character and the entire surrounding universe with such perfection that he sinks into it. Perhaps the only one who fully understands the narrative grasp of the surreal universe he establishes. This allows him to wade through the themes organically regardless of where the narrative turns him next. He maintains a lot of physical intensity at every moment and carries the stature of a cowboy with confidence as a result. The man doesn't necesarrily say too much as dialogue is one of the least key aspects of the narrative, but when he does he manages to accomplish a level of profound wisdom through the subtle articulation of his words. Alejandro Jodorowsky grasps the elusive nature of the narrative and the gun-toting nature of the western mythology, amalgamating it all into a mystic leading character who keeps the intrigue steady.
The lack of a story means that there is little in terms of genuine character development offered in El Topo and the actors stand out more on the basis of what kind of imagery they contribute. Alejandro Jodorowsky is aware of this and encourages a versatile collection of cast members as the front for the human side of the film. This means he makes use of actors who are exceedingly short in size or missing certain limbs, working to convey the beauty of a different body image to viewers. The man makes art out of what is stereotypically considered abnormal, reminding viewers of beauty in body image of all kinds through putting them to work into the imagery with artistic physical movements.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's passionate dedication to El Topo's artistic visual style makes it an experience packed with powerful imagery while his work as the lead actor and composer keeps the atmosphere vibrant, even if the loose nature of the premise is as thin and convoluted as you could expect.
January 1, 2016
El Topo is the most bizarre and surreal of westerns, a gory and mystical dreamscape of deformed characters, nude bodies, outrageous violence, and lingering images.
December 6, 2015
Jodorowsky's first feature film and the first film known as a "Midnight Movie" is beautiful, but hard to see.
This film is one of the best of the 70's, and one of the best surrealistic experiences I ever had. It's very well directed, the photography is fabulous and the stories involving the misterious main character, are exactly like a Salvador Dali painting.
½ October 6, 2015
Alejandro Jodorowsky! Vaikea sanoa mitä miehen päässä liikkuu. Joko hän on visionäärinen nero tai mielipuoli. DVDn kuvanlaatu on uskomattoman hyvä.
½ September 15, 2015
When a ukraine-chilean artist of jewish ascent wants to create art in the middle of the Mexican desert, the result is "El Topo". Much can be said about the feature itself, because it's like no other movie at the time upon it's release. Depending a great deal on the shock-factor with it's killings, blood and nudity, it also has a more sublime subconcious message. As Alejandro Jodorowsky takes the task of playing messiah himself, leather pants in the dessert nonetheless. The movie is a journey towards a truth forming along the paths chosen. Oddity and amputations even animal slaughters are thrown in this massive mix of surrealism, the result is as frustrating as it is addictive. Acid or not, it is intriguing in a horrible way.
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