For some filmmakers, as soon as you get a solitary look at any frame of their film, you know it belongs to them and they’re the only person who could have made it. You can tell a Werner Herzog movie is his, or a David Lynch film is very “Lynchian” or even a Terry Gilliam story has that certain look to it. One director and storyteller that fits into this category, if you could even say he “fits” is Alejandro Jodorowsky, a master of his own brand of cinema. Jodo has been making films for close to fifty years, astounding the art film community and terrifying the mainstream system, as was evident in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, the chronicling of his failed attempt to make a groundbreaking adaptation of the famous Frank Herbert novel. Now, at the age of 87, Jodo makes Endless Poetry, the second film of his new trilogy, a surreal set of biopics that kicked off with The Dance Of Reality.
This film tells Alejandro’s sort of origin story, growing up in Chile. Played by Jodo’s youngest son Adan, this part of his tale shows him as young boy constantly berated by his shop owner father (played by his oldest son, Brontis). In secret, Alejandro starts to be drawn to the world of poetry and raising his unique voice and, as he gets older, he starts to flourish. Once his father finally discovers what his son truly wants out of life, he is immediately at odds with him, forcing Alejandro to head out on his own, into the artist laden streets of Chile. Here he will experience a cultural, artistic and sexual awakening that will open up a whole new world of possibilities to him that he never knew existed.
Sitting at my screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival, I chuckled as I noted a solid majority of the audience walk out on Endless Poetry. Bear in mind, this is not your regular narrative film, heck, none of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films are. His vision lives on a level of surrealism that in unobtainable to a large audience, so much so that the mainstream viewers will absolutely abhor what they’ve seen. I, on the other hand, saw a beautifully self-indulgent film of a filmmaker at a deep point of self-reflection in his life. It’s interesting to see that Jodorowsky, at this late point in his life, look at his development through the lens of everything he has created up until this point. It makes you wonder about the other greats in the directing field as they inch towards mortality.
Endless Poetry is constantly and consistently dizzying in its vibrancy and visual nature. The screen feels like it’s alive from every frame, always something new to pick up on. Immediately after seeing it, I felt that I could absorb it all over again, pulling new and different things from every story point. Yes, I may be in a minority when it comes to the opinion of this film in particular but one thing that is for sure is Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the most fiercely original voices in cinema, one that doesn’t bow to any sort of convention. That said, calling Endless Poetry just unconventional undersells it to the nth degree. It’s a journey into the mind of an abstract filmmaker that is, at least, completely unforgettable. 4/5