La danza de la realidad: a revisited and invented childhood
by Vitor Pinto
- Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky returns after 23 years with work in which he has reconstructed his childhood in a tale-like manner
After Marcel Ophüls’ confessional biopic, Un Voyageur [+see also:
film profile], a strange and imaginary autobiography by Alejandro Jodorowsky took centre stage this weekend at Directors’ Fortnight. Jodorowsky’s film, La danza de la realidad [+see also:
film profile], marks his return to the big screen after 23 years of absence.
The entire biography is a modern reconstruction of the past. In this “dance” with his past, Jodorowsky carries out a kind of reconstruction in all its fictitiousness, adding fantastical, dreamlike tones to the film. There is no space here for realistic stories, although reality is the starting point for happy and traumatic experiences set in the small city of Tocopilla, where he was born in 1929. Jodorowsky actually appears in a few scenes from the film next to young Jeremias Herskovits, contrasting his 84 years with the fictional representation of his childhood.
At the centre of young Alejandro’s life are his parents, also the subject of invention. The father is an eccentric character - an atheist Jew and Stalin-obsessed communist. The mother is a mystical Fellini-like character. Every time she opens her mouth, she sings instead of speaking. Beyond the fear he has of his father, and the symbiotic love he feels for his mother, little Alejandro suffers from being different from the other children in Tocopilla. He is white, circumcised and sensitive. At a certain point in the story, the main character becomes the father, Jaime Jodorowsky. Here, the director relies less on his own memories, and bases the story around book El Niño del Jueves Negro, in which the father is described as having tried to kill Colonel Ibáñez, the Chilean president. This is something that never happened in real life. In parallel, there are a whole set of elements associated with Jodorowsky’s work, including circus artists, dwarfs, disabled people… A visual universe which is both baroque and fascinating.
Beyond his directing work, Jodorowsky is known for inventing psychomagic, a therapeutic technique which he claims can be used to cure psychological conflicts. La danza de la realidad may well be part of a family catharsis in which different relations worked. Brontis Jodorowsky, Jaime’s nephew, plays his grandfather to great effect. Two more relations play secondary roles; his wife, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, was in charge of costumes. More important than scepticism, or than the spectator’s adherence to the thesis (and of what it may mean for the Jodorowsky clan), is the sensation of having witnessed a radical piece of work, tough, infinitely fantastical and more personal in its invention than most biopics, which, following conventional formula, only ever satisfy audiences’ voyeuristic curiosity, without any cinematographic challenge.
Produced by Michel Seydoux, Moises Cosio and Alejandro Jodorowsky himself, La danza de la realidad is part of a line-up by French sales company Pathé International.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.