Stefan Jaworzyn considers Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s Santa Sangre plus Society and Shadow Makers.
INDEX: 15 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 21 WEEK TWO 22
Fantasy and! Reality
Cult Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky is on the loose again with his latest triumph of the bizarre in Santa Sangre. Stephan Jaworzyn meets the man who's turned camage into an art form.
Alejandro Jodorowsky remains one of the few genuine cnigmas in the world ofcinema: director ofthe 70$ cult classic El Topo. self-proclaimed genius, notorious eccentric. highly-acclaimed graphic artist. veteran of mime work with Marcel Marceau. responsible for introducing European avant-garde theatre into Mexico. widely castigated for self-indulgence. deliberate obscurantism and egotistical ranting. . . But despite his slim cinematic output (five features in Over twenty years. plus one lost film shot in the 503) his style is instantly recognisable. and for his latest feature. Santa Sangre. his wilful weirdness has been slightly tempered by producer Claudio Argento. resulting in Jodorowsky‘s most commercially viable film to date.
Like much of the strangest fiction Santa Sangre is based on fact: ‘Gojo Cardinas is the name of the man it is based on.‘ says Jodorowsky. ‘Hc is very famous in Mexico. He was a young person living with his mother. he killed thirty women and then called the police. He buried them in his garden. They put him in an asylum for ten years. the doctors said he was cured. and he went out into society like a normal person. He studied and became a lawyer. a newspaperman. a novelist. he married and has two children.‘
One of the film‘s main themes is the hairline distinction between fantasy and reality. Fenix (Jodorowsky‘s son. Axel) witnesses his parents mutilate one another and spends the best part of two decades in an asylum. until his mother mysteriously appears to engineer his escape. Here Jodorowsky has taken some liberties with the original events: ‘I like to take reality and put it into an imaginary context. In the film. everything he does is not real. Even his mother is not real. Himself. he‘s free of that — but we don‘t know, maybe he‘s dreaming it all. Maybe he never left jail! The real Gojo never lived a double life as Fenix does. He thought he was a normal person. Now he only knows what the newspapers tell
him. he does not remember anything. it was not reality. When he was a criminal it was another life. it was not him.‘
This deliberate blurring ofthe ‘real‘ and ‘unrcal‘ extends to Jodorwsky‘s introduction of traditional horror film material into Santa Sangre. ‘I made some echoes of horror films. but I played with them. There‘s The Invisible Man. and the zombie scene from Romero. But in Night ofthe Living Dead they were terrible persons coming back from the dead. and here they are beautiful women. It is anti-terror. In The Invisible Man he suffered because he wants to be visible. He wants to disappear because he doesn‘t like himselfas a criminal. So I am playing with horror. and at the same time I am making anti-horror.‘
Santa Sangre also represented a personal catharsis for Jodorowsky — anyone familiar with his life story or some of his blighted past projects will find echoes in the film. ‘It took six years for me to write — l was putting a lot of myself into it. It was like a subtle psychoanalysis for me. It helped me find redemption. for I was also a killer. a psychological killer. a misogynist. destroying
women. I was not able to love. It also helped my relationship with my sons (three ofwhom appear in the picture). my family. and even that ofthe process of returning to making movies.‘
For his current project The Rainbow Thief (currently shooting at Shepperton with Peter O‘Toole. Omar Sharif. Christopher Lee and a pack of rats. . .) Jodorowsky was threatening to film a rat and then re-write the script around the rat‘s behaviour. He described the nature of his approach to filming. ‘For Santa Sangre I was trying to find a very strong structure. I believe in structure and in order to improvise when I‘m shooting I need aperfect structure. For me. you finish a picture when the first copy comes to you. All the time you are changing. you are creating. it‘s a full process ofcreation. The locations change the film. the actors change it. the editing. the music — you never stop the process of creativity until the end.‘
Santa Sangre (18) screens at the Film/louse in [Edinburgh from Fri l3-Thurs 19 Apr, and plays the Glasgow Film Theatre from Sun 29 Apr- Thurs 10 May.
The List (1— 19 April 199013