Alejandro Jodorowsky is a genius, so you should give him your money. I can’t type something like that without it sounding sarcastic, which is unfortunate, because it’s something that I genuinely believe and something that I genuinely implore you to do.
Commonly referred to as “The Father of the midnight movie,” the 86-year-old Chilean-born filmmaker is best known for efforts like EL Topo and The Holy Mountain, embraced as underground cult cinema and packed with abstract, surrealistic imagery, references to mysticism, and such unorthodox casting as dwarves and amputees. Thanks in part to a recent documentary on the subject, Alejandro has also been recognized for his brilliantly unsuccessful attempt to adapt the classic 1965 Frank Hubert novel, DUNE, into a feature film in 1975, 9 years before a much different version would eventually hit the screen with David Lynch at the helm. Jodorowsky‘s ridiculously ambitious vision for the sci-fi classic was set to involve such names Orson Welles, Pink Floyd, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and H.R. Giger and has often been considered “the greatest film never made.” A lesser number of people may know Alejandro as the inventor of a mystical form of phychotherapy known as “psychomagic,” his work with the Tarot, or even his career as a writer. And while his filmwork is impressive on its own, Jodorowsky‘s life is something that I have learned to be far more fascinating and enlightening than the work itself. Not until I began to read his biography, The Dance Of Reality, last fall, was I truly aware of the depth of the man’s mind or, more importantly, his soul.
When the film adaptation of Dance Of Reality debuted at The Directors’ Fortnight during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, it marked the first motion picture release by the director since The Rainbow Thief (a film with a big name cast, which he, himself, seems to really fucking hate) hit theaters 23 years earlier; but, based on video clips and things that I’ve stumbled across in the past, I don’t believe that was necessarily by design. As evidenced by his written work and other projects, the ideas never stop for Alejandro, but as the documentary on his struggles with DUNE demonstrates, getting his ideas fully realized and onto the big screen is often the biggest challenge of them all. Now, taking advantage of the accessibility and growing popularity of the crowd funding format, a resource that was either less visible or non-existent in years past, the cinema legend has launched a new Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of funding his next masterpiece. With the method proving it’s viability on multiple occasions, in regards to its ability to help fund sometimes brilliant, yet less commercial, artistic ventures time and time again, it seems a logical approach for someone as unorthodox and forward thinking as Jodorowsky. However, being such a unique character, he hasn’t even approached Kickstarter in the exact same way as so many before him. Instead of simply offering the typical rewards at various donation levels, as one might expect, Alejandro would like to exchange your donated currency for his own “poetic money” which he’s printed himself and which features his own face on the bills, along with a different, “original money-related poem written by Jodorowsky printed onto it in Spanish” depending on the denomination ($1, $10, or $100).
As the campaign explains:
“Jodorowsky thinks that all money should be transformed into poetry. And so that is what he will do with this Kickstarter project. No matter what level you pledge at, Jodorowsky will exchange your pledge into his brand new Poetic Money (DINERO POÉTICO) and send it back to you. This money can’t be spent on any material goods — only on the poetry of the universe.”
As you’ve likely noticed, there seems to be very little shown, in particular, about this new film in the video above, but that’s not what really sells me on this whole project. Beyond one incredibly powerful additional video on the campaign page (featured at the bottom of this post), it’s my belief in the artist himself and what he’s capable of, as well as the confidence that he displays in himself, that really leaves me convinced about the potential of this undertaking.
Last fall, we were actually sent a DVD copy of Dance Of Reality in the mail for review. That trailer — clips of which appear in the Kickstarter video above — drew me in as much as anything that I can recall seeing in recent memory. I had to watch this film. And yet, it remains on my a side table in my living room, unwatched. But why? The reason for that is because, along with the reviewer copy of the physical release of the film, I was also sent a copy of the book that it was created from, released last year for the first time in English. Immediately after picking it up from my doorstep, I decided to read the first page or 2, which turned into a chapter, and then, quickly into me deciding that I had to finish the book in it’s entirety before ever opening the DVD. The written version is nothing short of brilliant, but while I managed to forge my way well into the second half of what is easily one of the most enlightening pieces of literature that I’ve come across in quite some time (perhaps, ever), a turbulent end to the year filled with hefty amount of personal turmoil scattered throughout, prevented me from ever completely finishing it. In turn, I have still never managed to turn on the movie for fear of “ruining” some aspect of it. In viewing the trailer, I can recognize so much from my reading and, with a book so beautifully — almost magically — written, I cherished the purity of the written word and feared the influence that experiencing its cinematic translation might have on it — perhaps, too much. Taking diligent notes, I desired to write a piece that not only compared and contrasted the two mediums, but combined and weaved them together. But according to one particular sentence of this new Kickstarter page, I’ve discovered that the film version of Dance Of Reality only covers the first portion of the book, a mark that I had already plowed beyond.
“His new film ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) will be based on the latter half of the same book, depicting the author’s youth in lively Santiago de Chile.“
From what I’ve experienced thus far, this portion of the book is some of the most revealing and inspiring content contained within it. I believe in the value of this project based on that alone. I believe that this film needs to be made.
There are plenty of people that despise “the Hollywood machine” that exists to churn out soulless, commercial trash, while raping the sacred art form that is cinema. Whether or not the stance seems cliché, that concept is definitely harvested from reality. It’s a truth that most people reading this article about this subject on this site will, most likely, be aware of and agree with to some degree, but I’d wager that few are as uncompromising, or are as passionate about the belief of the sacred nature of the art form, as Alejandro Jodorowsky. I strongly recommend checking out one particular interview on RogerEbert.com, which was done in promotion of Dance Of Reality, as an example of how little the director respects the sterile overly financially focused corporate system that far too often infiltrates and affects ones ability to fund and distribute their art in the truest sense.
Although it may seem otherwise disconnected, the interview that I conducted with Tom VanBuskirk of Javelin in 2013 popped into my head a couple of times while putting this post together. One reason is due to me speaking to Tom about how other countries, such as France which features figures like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (writer of Le Petit Prince aka The Little Prince) on their currency, seem to possess a greater respect for their artists as national treasures, before asking him who he believed really deserved to be placed on US currency. The other stems from the reason that I asked that question in the first place, which is because I believe that, to a certain extent, the world is divided between people who dream of coming into a shitload of money (inheritance, lottery, etc.) so that they never have to do anything ever again — they’d lay in bed sipping wine and being scrubbed by robots — and those who would desire to be able to finally get to work creating all of the projects that they can’t afford to support financially otherwise. Alejandro, as I believe the members of Javelin are, is clearly of the latter camp; he’s, someone who sees the financial element as a necessary evil and a potential obstacle that unfortunately divides the focus of those ready and yearning to pour themselves entirely into their passions.
In the video below, the Chilean artist expresses himself so intensely and so articulately that it’s hard to deny that he believes in what he’s saying with every fiber of his being — whether or not anyone else agrees with his vision is irrelevant; his passion, purpose, and intent are all incredibly real. If the “poetic money” concept seems like it’s too much of a gimmick to be authentic, I feel that this video does an incredibly sound job of negating that skepticism and making a case for the perspective and reasoning behind it. I feel that the nature of what Jodorowsky feels so compelled to put on screen is also important to remember. This man had a difficult upbringing, yet never expresses anger for those times in his autobiography. Rather, his words are filled with understanding, empathy, and an appreciation for the enlightenment and growth that it has provided for him to evolve into who he has become and continues to become. The sort of things that sunk me and sidetracked me last year, which prevented me from finishing his book were deeply personal and involved such things as a cancer scare and even my 3-year-old son being temporarily inflicted with Bell’s Palsy; I was dealing with the fact that certain people around me that I love deeply were, potentially, going to die and/or were dealing with debilitating afflictions. Alejandro expresses a desire to heal the world and overpower that imagery and state of mind by sharing his own discoveries and challenges, while showcasing young people exploring the beauty of life and living it. But as he states, the goal for him isn’t to create films that allow one to forget themselves and escape into a movie theater, but rather to utilize the medium of cinema for what he believes the true purpose is, to help us to remember ourselves.
Watch Jodorowsky speak of his desire to make a film that shows the beauty of the human being and the human experience, as he emotionally disembowels himself on video. Then, consider kicking over a few bucks to help him make it a reality. If you’re completely unaffected by his words, that’s cool too, but you might want to go get your microchip checked out,.. you cold robotic bastard.