film review: alejandro jodorowsky's "la danza de la realidad"
“all things are connected in a web of suffering and pleasure.”
"la danza de la realidad (the dance of reality)" is essentially a tale of jodorowsky's personal history through a hyper-magical and imaginative, yet critical lens.
self-described as an “imaginary biography” of his tormented and troubled youth in tocopillo, chile, the dance of reality follows the young life of jodorowsky, with a parallel focus on the life of his oppressive, communist father, jaime, who after emigrating from post-nazi germany has fascist, narcissistic, and machismo tendencies.
a former stalin worshipper who is frustrated with the corruption of the state, jaime starts on an assassination mission and encounters various trials and tribulations, each a ridiculously jodorowskian gesture revealing a deep-rooted social injustice. jaime abuses his son into submission to prove his manhood, abuses his wife with whom he owns a lingerie store, attemts to save an entire village from poverty only to be chased by the state, attempts an assassination, is tortured brutally, becomes plagued, is chased by state officials, is pissed on by his wife, falls into destitution, and the list goes on...
after hitting the bottom, (at one point he wakes up with dysfunctional hands, no money, having been unconscious for weeks, and next to a paraplegic who kills herself because she knows that a conscious jodorowsky will immediately remember himself and leave her) jodorowsky meets an old woodworker who offers him food, fatherly love, and enough work to afford him a way to reunite with his family that he had abandoned on his self-important quest for murder. the woodworker invites him to the church that has commisioned the hundreds of chairs that they had just completed, where the woodworker drops dead. immediately upon the woodworker's death, the priest sends around the collection plate where jaime is guilted into surrendering his earnings, that were supposed to see him home, to the church.
this is just one in an endless series of visually, politically, and magically dense scenes in the film that never once loses its grip. in line with his tendency towards absurdly callous vulgarities, this film boasts a scene wife takes a restorative piss on him, no detail is spared. throughout the film jodorowsky brilliantly dissects the core south american issues of church, state, family, and poverty with grace, humor, and conviction.
in this film, jodorowsky surely succeeds in presenting the transient and multi-actualized form history can take on-- real and imagined. along that vein, zadie smith says "every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories." jodorowsky must figure that the moments happening inside ought to be pretty fucking outrageous and colorful, and i think that's just wonderful.
"the dance of reality" is set for its us release on may 23 in ny and la, with other cities to follow. highly recommended viewing for the critical art consumer.
and thanks to miranda for inviting me to the pre-release screening at the moma! :)