terça-feira, 1 de maio de 2007


EL TOPO o filme realizado por Alejandro Jodorowsky em 1970 e que deu origem nos Estados Unidos aos filmes da meia noite foi finalmente editado em DVD.
During the 1960s, Jodorowsky travelled back and forth between Mexico and Paris. Greatly inspired by surrealism and determined to reinvigorate its artistic movement, Jodorowsky contacted André Breton in Paris, but was dismayed to find that Breton had become very conservative in his old age as surrealism became accepted and incorporated into high culture. While Breton still envisioned a poetic and fantastic movement, Jodorowsky was more influenced by elements of popular youth culture that Breton did not appreciate – such as rock music, science fiction, pornography and comic books – which would all factor into Jodorowsky's later work. Together with absurdist playwright (and later filmmaker) Fernando Arrabal and writer/artist/animator Roland Topor, Jodorowsky founded the “Panic Movement” in 1962 as a way to go beyond surrealism by embracing irrationality, the mysterious and the absurd, emphasising an explosive sexuality, a fearless sense of rebellion, and a collapsing of all time into the present moment. Named after the god Pan (meaning “totality”), the concept of a “Panic” artist also meant someone whose output was “polyvalent”, traversing many different media in order to avoid simple categorisation; artists like Cocteau, Leonardo da Vinci and Pier Paolo Pasolini were inspirations in this sense. Despite their general aesthetic, Jodorowsky maintains that the idea of a “Panic Movement” was largely a tongue-in-cheek joke for its three founders; each person created independently, labelling their own work as “Panic”, while they secretly laughed at serious attempts made by critics and other artists to theorise or follow the invented “movement”.
Speaking of El Topo (“The Mole”), he famously announced that “I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs. The difference being that when one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill.”
El Topo is thus intended to be read as less a product of Jodorowsky's own mind than a process of spiritual illumination akin to the religious sensations experienced by many countercultural drug users; of course, this was helped by the film's eventual reputation as a “head film” during which many audience members did partake of such substances. Nevertheless, El Topo is in many ways Jodorowsky's personal quest toward an enlightened identity that can transcend death. The film opens with the titular gunfighter and his nude son (played by Jodorowsky and his son Brontis, respectively) riding across the desert, where the son is instructed to bury his first toy and his mother's picture now to become a man. Over the opening credits, we are told that the mole lives underground and searches for the sun; sometimes its journey brings it to the surface where it is blinded. After this central metaphor, the film is divided into four biblical sections: Genesis, Prophets, Psalms and Apocalypse. El Topo and his son ride into a blood-drenched town where bandits have raped and massacred hundreds. He kills these lascivious bandits, then finds their Colonel and his men in a Franciscan mission. El Topo announces “I am God” before castrating the Colonel (who then kills himself) and killing the rest of the motley junta. He then abandons his son to the care of the mission's surviving monks and rides off with a young woman named Mara who he has rescued. El Topo can live in the desert by miraculously summoning food and water from the ground, but Mara cannot – at least until El Topo rapes her to unleash her first orgasm. Mara then makes El Topo prove his love for her by killing the four Masters of the desert and becoming the best gunfighter. El Topo cheats his way into killing the first three Masters, who are all far more spiritually enlightened than him and have progressively fewer worldly possessions. According to one of the Masters, El Topo is full of self-righteous hate instead of self-effacing love, and should be trying to disappear entirely rather than find himself through violence. The Fourth Master possesses only his own life and chooses to kill himself to prove to El Topo how little life means. Humiliated by his dishonorable victory, El Topo rushes through the desert, smashes his gun, and assumes a Christ-like pose of self-sacrifice as he is gunned down by a Woman in Black (representing El Topo's Jungian alter-ego) who has previously joined their journey and sadistically lusts after Mara. Unable to accept this emasculated man, Mara chooses to ride away with the Woman in Black while El Topo's body is hauled away by a group of deformed people.

Jodorowsky brought El Topo to New York, where it played for over a year as allegedly the first “midnight movie”, garnering large profits and a considerable cult audience. (Still scandalised by Fando y Lis, Mexico refused to let El Topo represent them at the Cannes Film Festival). John Lennon was so impressed by the film that Beatles manager Allen Klein purchased the distribution rights and would finance much of the budget for Jodorowsky's next film. While some critics in the alternative press proclaimed El Topo as one of the greatest films ever made, more mainstream critics complained that it was an overly violent, pretentious, nonsensical mess of crude surreal imagery with little to say and no goal but exploiting the counterculture. Pauline Kael, for example, accused the film of being “commercialised surrealism” that is ultimately “sanctimonious” and reinforcing of “conventional pieties” in a way that Buñuel's films are not.
However, while Buñuel's attacks on religion are primarily confined to Catholicism, Jodorowsky not only violates but de-centres Western religious traditions by creating a hybrid amalgamation of Western, non-Western and occult beliefs. A self-described “atheist mystic”, he has claimed to hate religion (for it “is killing the planet”), but he loves mysticism and occult practices like alchemy. What is important in Jodorowsky's films is not just that (organised) religion's discourses of political power and tradition are attacked and subverted – but also that a hybrid mysticism is elevated in their place, drawing upon a more universal sense of spirituality that underlies all religious and occult beliefs, evading issues of specific nationality and political culture. Interviews with him suggest that he mixes belief systems with a subversively playful attitude, as if constructing his own mythology from so much spiritual raw material.
Although beyond the scope of this profile, Jodorowsky's work is deserving of further study within the context of Third Cinema, surrealism, magical realism and post-colonial studies. As is the case with many cult/counterculture/underground films, his works have been treated as the foreign/exotic and indefinable “Other” of both commercial and art cinema. While filmmakers of the same era – such as Glauber Rocha, whose Antonio das Mortes (1969) was praised by Jodorowsky and could be seen as an influence on El Topo – were championed by critics, others have remained largely neglected by generations of cultural tastemakers. The truly transgressive and politically viable qualities of Jodorowsky's films have been contained as carnivalesque and exploitative curiosities, almost dismissively relegated to midnight movie circuits and cult film catalogues. Only by re-evaluating these films both within and beyond their place in the cult tradition can we see them as a cohesive body of work evoking a
continual spiritual journey and a sustained challenge to the political/religious climate of the Americas.
by David Church in SENSES OF CINEMA

Jean Cocteau edição de dois filmes fundamentais LE SANG D'UN POÈTE (1930) e ORPHÉE (1950).

(...) In 1929, at the age of 40, Cocteau made his first film. The Vicomte de Noailles, a frequenter of avant-garde salons, asked Cocteau and composer George Auric if they would be interested in collaborating on an animation. Cocteau suggested they make a live-action piece instead. The news that he was making a film must, at the time, have seemed like further evidence of Cocteau's dilettantism. In fact, the result was an avant-garde landmark.
Le Sang d'un poète (Blood of a Poet) is divided into episodes, some connected, some discrete. Perhaps the most famous of these features the eponymous poet moving along a corridor in a hotel, looking through the keyholes of bedroom doors. Through these keyholes, he spies a range of tableaux vivants. These include a bedroom in which a child annoys a governess by crawling up a wall, a Mexican firing squad in which the victim falls to the ground and then bounces back to life, and a dark space in which a couple write observations about each other while they embrace. The work is strongly indebted to (though in no way derivative of) Un Chien Andalou (1929). Its distinct similarity to Buñuel and Dali's film led mainstream commentators to label it as 'surrealistic'. This was of particular annoyance to André Breton, who was now running the Surrealists as if they were Communist cell. Cocteau himself pretended also to take offence at being labelled a Surrealist, though he probably quite enjoyed Breton's irritation. Le Sang d'un poète caused mild controversy, though this was as nothing compared to the controversy that was soon to be caused by Buñuel's L'Age d'or, the second and final film to benefit from the Vicomte de Noaille's artistic philanthropy.
Le Sang d'un poète is both a recapitulation and a new beginning. Viewed in the context of Cocteau's previous work, it can be seen as an anthology of his favourite images and themes. These include: mirrors (narcissism), eyes (voyeurism), statues (classicism), doors (the borders between different worlds) and blood (the sufferings of the artist). It also contains numerous elements of autobiography and references to previous works, both overt (for example, the snowball fight from Les Enfants terribles) and coded (for example, the magical 'transportation' of the poet into parallel worlds). Viewed in the context of Cocteau's subsequent career, it can be seen as a sketchbook for future films. Many of the techniques that would later become Cocteau's trademarks were first tried out in Le Sang d'un poète. These include the use of slow and reverse motion, voice-over narration, and the film's most famous trick of building the walls of certain sets on the studio floor. By filming them from above and getting his actors to lie on the ground, Cocteau creates the impression that the walls in his fantasy world emanate a magnetic pull. This last is a startling effect, but Cocteau's liking for it gets the better of him, and he uses it too often. In the end, it is difficult not to agree with Cocteau's own judgement of the film as a theme “clumsily played with one finger” which he would later orchestrate in Orphée. However, despite the film's clumsiness, the child-like delight that Cocteau takes in the possibilities of the medium gives Le Sang d'un poète an energy and playfulness that at the time only Buñuel and Dali surpassed. Cocteau did not direct another film for the next sixteen years. By way of explanation, he later wrote:

The fact that I let twenty years [a typically casual ]exaggeration] elapse between that film, my first, and the others, shows that I regarded it as something rather like a drawing or a poem – a drawing or a poem so expensive that I couldn't contemplate making more than one.

Cocteau's implication that it did not occur to him to make another film is inadequate. Was he scared off by the controversy that his film generated? Did he consider another project but find himself unable to secure funding? Did he feel that he'd used up all his cinematic invention? Or was he still not that interested in film? In the absence of any clear evidence, one can only conjecture.
Le Sang d'un poète was Cocteau's last 'controversial' work. As the diplomatic climate darkened in the 1930s and the avant-garde became ever more politicised, Cocteau moved inexorably towards the French literary establishment. He became a prolific columnist and wrote a number of classical stage melodramas including La Machine infernale, L'Aigle à deux têtes and the immensely successful Les Parents terribles.

By the end of the decade, Cocteau the avant-garde provocateur had become Cocteau the celebrity playwright. (...)

Richard Misek in SENSES OF CINEMA