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Topo, El
aka - Mole, The
Mexico 1971
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Running time 124 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Made at the height of the hippy era by Chilean-born Mexico-based director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who plays the eponymous central character, this spaghetti Western with mystical trappings is driven more by a dream-like association of imagery than any comprehensible meaning. A hodge-podge of visual and textual excess, for those who love such things for their own sake it will be a unique treat, ranging as it does across Western and Eastern symbology and being, according to the director "a library...of all the books I love". Steeped in the physically repressive aspects of Catholicism it abounds in voyeurism and revels in its kitsch syncretism.

Originally shown at midnight at the Elgin Theater in New York it became a huge cult hit in its day, taking Sergio Leone and Peckinpah places they never dreamed of. Unfortunately it remains locked in the stylistic pretensions of the era (Dennis Hopper and John Lennon were both big fans, the latter telling Alan Klein to buy the distribution rights) and has not stood the test of time. Whilst there are some wonderful images they are outweighed by the preoccupation with gory violence and the repugnant and deformed. Most critics at the time, whilst acknowledging Jodorowsky's visual prowess, failed it for its lack of unity and want of a single discernible meaning. Perhaps most generously, drug-induced indulgence aside, it could be seen as a mixture of mystico-religious ideas and cinematic sex and violence thrown together as an epic tableau from which each viewer can take what he or she wishes.




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