In my attempt to describe my experience of the film, I struggle to find a starting point. Ordered, lucid verbal analysis just feels, for a lack of a more specific word, wrong for me when applied an Alejandro Jodorowsky work.
Dance was a ghost of a film. I took an extra long lunch break from work to see it today and for the rest of the day, have felt uncomfortable and restless. It seemed like the film broke open the floodgates that typically hold back my societally improper and unsanctioned fetishes, impulses, nightmares, thoughts, imaginings, which I typically try to ignore, avoid, repress, and deny over the course of a typical day, to spur an interior psychoanalytic party. My personal mental imagery spurred on by the film that ran simultaneous to what I was physically seeing became very much a part of my experience. And this makes reviewing my experience of the film in detail an inscrutable and discomforting task.
I found The Holy Mountain to be fun, entertaining, and a breeze to get through. What I have seen of El Topo I found to diverting, as well. The Dance of Reality is more normal, more accessible, more conventionally structured and written than all of Jodorowsky’s previous outings, but yet, I found it far tougher to get through. There’s less a sense of unhinged, off-the-wall craziness. It is a more a melancholy-tinged, acrimonious craziness. With the exception of the stretch where Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky) serves as the groom for the Colonel’s horse, I was not mesmerized by the film, switching between fidgeting my butt and legs and dancing with shadow voices and recollections from my former, younger selves.
Though Holy Mountain and El Topo have imagery that is a lot more “disturbing” and “exploitationist-flavored,” this one also left me feeling more sick and morose. One particular moment that made me feel queasy and induced me to groan audibly in the theater — Sara (Pamela Flores), a full-bodied soprano vocalist (she sings all of her lines), raises her dress to reveal her naked lower body, straddles her husband Jaime and then pees on him as part of a frantic ritual prayer to an Abrahamic God to cure him of a flesh-rotting plague. Mid-piss, she queefs, which jets this uncanny, miraculous ball of mist downward toward Jaime’s face. (Don’t get me wrong though — that I felt queasy did not mean that I disliked the scene. In fact, I found it to carry an indelible grace, courtesy of Jodorowsky’s brazen direction and the actors’ steadfast performances.) Additionally, whereas seeing actors without limbs in slapstick situations in his previous films had me feeling a manic glee, in Dance, their antics weighed me down with guilt and pity, an emotion I usually try my damndest to repress because we are taught that people do not like pity to rain down on them from the heights of privilege.
I wonder why Jodorowsky is so fixated on people without limbs. And I am not sure how I feel about his usage of amputee actors. On one hand, I am glad he is paying people from unfortunate circumstances, meager as their pay may be. On the other, there is a patina of mockery and exploitation that accompanies their appearances.
Having now seen two Jodorowsky-related films in one year, Jodorowsky’s Dune and The Dance with Reality, I would like to proceed by reading Jodorowsky’s scifi comics, which from a cursory glance on Amazon look to be highly regarded, but unfortunately, also look to be highly out of print.