The Dance of Reality | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Dance of Reality

A surreal autobiographical tale from idiosyncratic Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky

click to enlarge Alejandro Jodorowsky The Dance of Reality at Melwood Theater
Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky, right) gets read

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.

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