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Poster for Cult 101: El Topo (1970) on 35mm
Watch trailer for Cult 101: El Topo (1970) on 35mm Watch trailer

Cult 101: El Topo (1970) on 35mm

Opens on September 8

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky Run Time: 125 min. Release Year: 1970

Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, Brontis Jodorowsky, José Legarreta, José Luis Fernández

Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Presented as part of the 2023 edition of Cult 101.

About the film:

Originally released in 1970, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo quickly caught the imagination of movie audiences, becoming a landmark in independent film-making. The early screenings at New York’s Elgin Theater sparked the Midnight Movie phenomena, catalyzed by an endorsement from John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Classic Americana and avant-garde European sensibilities collide with Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and mystic El Topo (played by writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky) tries to defeat four sharp-shooting rivals on a bizarre path to allegorical self-awareness and resurrection. As it seeks an alternative to the Hollywood mainstream, El Topo is also the most controversial quasi-Western head trip ever made!

About the filmmaker:

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a renowned Chilean-French avant-garde film director, writer, and actor. Among other early activities, Jodorowsky studied mime with Marcel Marceau in Paris, co-founded the surrealist review “S.NOB”, produced scandalous plays with the theater company Producciones Panicas, and wrote books and comics before experimenting with film in Mexico. His first feature Fando and Lis (1968) was banned after causing riots. His second, the legendary cult film El Topo (1970), was credited with starting the Midnight Movie phenomenon and firmly established Jodorowsky as the master of the outrageous and the profound. His third film The Holy Mountain (1973) caused a scandal at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival with its flood of sacrilegious imagery, existential symbolism and outrageous violence.

His other features include Tusk (1980), Santa Sangre (1989), The Rainbow Thief (1990), Endless Poetry (2016), and The Dance of Reality (2013), which premiered at Cannes alongside the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) about the filmmaker’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel in the mid-1970s.

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