Known as one of the world’s pre-eminent surrealists, Alejandro Jodorowsky has shown time and time again that he can tell a complete story with jumbled pieces. After a 23 year absence from the director’s chair, he returned with his autobiographical film, The Dance of Reality. Well, it’s about as accurate to reality as someone like Jodorowsky would get. With magical realism, dream logic, and moments of transcendence, Jodorowsky painted a portrait of his younger years in Tocopilla, Chile under the same roof with his strict Communist father, Jaime (played by son Brontis). Endless Poetry begins right where the last one ends. On a purple boat, Alejandro and his family embark on a new journey.
Adan Jodorowsky, Alejandro’s youngest son, plays him from his late teen years to early adulthood. After running away from the tyranny of his father (Brontis) and repressed mother (Pamela Flores), Alejandro moves in with an artist collective to grow as a poet. Of course, things get surreal really quickly and the movie proves to be incredibly funny. Jodorowsky is known for absurdism, but his use of it here breathes a reality and extension of the truth. The jokes are funny, but you can tell there’s an emotional realism in the moments of surreality that is rare to see. Moments with the art collective are highly visual while moments around his family are condensed, yet striking. Endless Poetry‘s title is almost accurate. It’s just unfortunate it has to end.
Endless Poetry is many things at once. Jodorowsky takes everything he learned with the film medium and takes the story of his life to form it into a commentary on how he wished he’d made different choices and reflecting on the past and its pain. Without feeling like a lecture, Jodo manages to pop into the movie as himself to talk to his younger self about his decisions. Moments like these add an intimacy that’s rarely seen these days and it’s surprising that we don’t see something like that more often. It only goes to show how bold Jodo is when it comes to narrative storytelling. And that boldness goes into the narrative as well.
It can be difficult to determine what is real and what is exaggerated. The director has stated that everything is real in interviews and it’s hard to argue. To a man like Jodo, the physical aspect of life and time aren’t the only things that exist in the plane of reality. Every bit of emotion is put on the screen in the physical form. There is no emotional subtlety here, he has no interest in tiptoe-ing around the issues in his life. Everything he felt, everything he saw, is on the screen. Whether other people could see it doesn’t matter. He’s letting you see what he saw now. It’s up to you to decide if his reality can be yours.
I find it almost trivial to pick at performances and pacing in a film like this when I know that’s not the first thing on the mind of the director. Endless Poetry is a two hour long poem about a time in his life where he must let it out in the form of a movie. This film almost reads as a memoir or a journal entry to a life fully thought through. There’s a sense of closure to this era by the time the movie ends. He begins the movie where it ends, on the purple boat with a man in a skeleton costume. You can take the film at face value or you can take it for all the storytelling in the background. Either way, there’s a story that needs to be told.
- Jodorowsky elegantly creates a vision of life once lived
- All environments and production design (done by Jodorowsky himself) is bold and exquisite
- Funnier than any Jodorowsky film before it
- Despite a great encapsulation of a time period, Jodo's a little too enamored with getting it right