El Topo (1970)
December 12, 2022 8:18 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] A black-clad gunfighter (Alejandro Jodorowsky) embarks on a symbolic quest in an Old West version of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Also starring Mara Lorenzio, Lacqueline Luis, Brontis Jodorwsky, Alfonso Arau.

Written & directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US. JustWatch listing. Also available in its entirety on Internet Archive.

Today, I'm going to post six movies that are problematic and/or made by/starring problematic people, but also either: have merit/are acclaimed; won some awards; are/were very popular; are/were culturally notable; or have a certain amount of cultural cachet or staying power. I'll be tagging these #problematicmovies.

Even aside from its intentionally transgressive content, the film has become controversial in recent years after an interview Jodorowsky gave around the time of the film's release resurfaced in which he claimed the rape scene was unsimulated. Jodorowsky has since claimed he was merely trying to "be provocative." The actress herself left acting and the public sphere after the film and has never spoken publicly about the incident.
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If Wet Leg were a 90's band they'd have sang: "Baby, would you like to come home with me, say yes/I've Jodorowsky's El Topo on VHS."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:55 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

See, this is an even better example of why the whole "six problematic movies" framing sucks. Are we going to talk about the imagery, the vision, the meanings that Jodorowsky filled his early films with, and which midnight movie viewers of the '70s responded to? Nope, just here's a tossed-off interview comment about rape (which he explained was not true, and which nobody has substantiated) that will make the entire thread go FUCK YOU ASSHOLE and reject all of Jodorowsky's work.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:06 AM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

The #problematicmovies tag acknowledges up front that a film has stuff associated with it or its stars/filmmakers that may be problematic.

It's only meant to be a way to acknowledge a potential land mine in conversation. People can opt to go right at that landmine and try and blow it up, attempt to analyze it, or simply walk around it. Different movies will elicit different choices.

With El Topo, for instance, I have always thought of it as a landmark movie, probably the best surrealist film ever made. It's absurd, visually stunning, surprisingly funny at times, and with really evocative religious and Western inagery. But Jodorowsky also said plain as day that he wasn't faking, he actually raped Mara Lorenzio. He took it back later, but that is a hell of a thing to say, so it bears mention preemptively.

If people want to discuss that, they totally should feel safe doing so. If people want to be free to discuss the film from an artistic standpoint, they can do so, knowing that this has already been acknowledged.

With El Topo, the only reason I didn't lead off the comments with my thoughts on the film itself is that I haven't seen it in 25-30 years. I'm intending to do so again this weekend and wanted to hear other people's thoughts on it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:25 AM on December 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

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