Alejandro Jodorowsky, the filmmaker who made cult classics El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), returns with a new film, The Dance of Reality, an autobiographical fable about his youth in a small Chilean village.
The film starts out a bit loopy, but soon settles into a relatively coherent, if at times surrealistic, narrative: Young Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits) is a sensitive child, intrigued by the mystical and the metaphysical, and buffeted by his domineering father, Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky, the director's real-life son). Throughout the tale, Jaime is variously a circus performer, a Communist, a lingerie salesman, a groomsman, a carpenter's assistant and an enlightened soul. The son's journey is more observant, but he does do a stint as a firehouse mascot.
Intertwined with the loose plot are digressions — some thoughtful, others fantastic — into the broader issues of politics, labor rights, religion, individual identity and mucho death. Jodorowsky, now 85, also appears as a Greek chorus and adviser. Throughout there are exaggerated costumes, bizzaro characters and set-pieces (this is the sort of film where a line like "I don't want to live in a world of dressed-up dogs" actually makes sense), and the odd bit of visual trickery. It's clearly a very personal work, but it's visually captivating, frequently funny and a treat for fans of the idiosyncratic filmmaker.