Friday, February 9, 2007

Surreal Cinema Fando y Lis - A. Jodorowsky - 1967

We will be covering Surreal Cinema Art here with some frequency....Henry_Allen

Article Below by Steve Puchalski at Shock Cinema

Just when I thought I'd run out of Alexandro Jodorowsky films to fawn over

(psychedelic mindbenders EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, as well as debacles like

TUSK and THE RAINBOW THIEF), I locate a copy of his earliest feature. (Actually,

the guy's first film is lost, according to all sources. Based on "The Severed

Heads" by Thomas Mann, it was a fable done in mime, and even Jodorowsky doesn't

have a copy.) This definitely shows what was to come from this unorthodox,

inconsistent genius. Based on Fernando Arrabal's play (which Jodorowsky had

previously directed on stage), the flick was castrated by its distributors,

Cannon Films, after causing a fracas at the Acapulco Film Festival for being too

"corrupting"...Working with no budget to speak of, and filmed on weekends, the

production reeks with Bunuel influenced surrealism and pretensions. Sergio

Klainer and Diana Mariscal star as the title characters, a young couple in

search of the enchanted city of Tar, where ecstasy can (supposedly) be found.

Fando is impotent, Lis is paralyzed, and together they travel across a rocky

landscape (with the bleach blonde Lis wheeled along or carried), equipped with

their only possessions, a drum and an old fashioned phonograph. Basically, it's

a road movie that takes these holy innocents nowhere, as they encounter bizarre

characters, experience childhood flashbacks, play cruel jokes on each other, and

sit on rocks, rambling banalities. They argue, they split up (Fando runs off and

Lis sits there bawling), they get back together, and when Fando gets sick of her

whining, he drags Lis around by the feet. Sure, there are plenty of striking

images along the way (i.e. a musician sits amidst urban rubble, playing a

flaming piano), but the first half of this flick is an incoherent, maddeningly

edited mess that makes even Fellini's most indulgent work look coherent. It's

not until Jodorowsky ups the tripped-out absurdity that the movie begins to hit

you on a gut level. Such as when Fando is whipped by a bikinied torturess and

eyed by some horny transvestites, or encounters vampires drinking snifters of

blood (as an additional note, Jodorowsky said that all on-screen blood was

real). And what other director would keep a straight face while live pigs are

being pulled from Lis' vagina? (Yeah, you read that correctly.) Or when

supporting characters crawl into their own graves to perish, politely thanking

the grave digger as he covers 'em up? But if Jodorowsky wanted the title

characters to be enchanting kids, fouled by society's ills, he failed. Because

though his vision is charmingly morbid and scattered with unintentional laughs,

the leads are dead weight. Along the way, I realized I didn't care about either

of 'em or their heavyhanded quest. It's dense going for Jodorowsky amateurs, yet

a field day for fans of murky, symbolic baloney.

No comments: