No Attachment to Dust

Alejandro Jodorowsky on Zen and the art of filmmaking

Jodorowsky, The Holy Mountain

"We are not living in reality. We are living in a kind of dream, and this dream needs to be finished because we are coming to the end of one way to think. It’s not possible to continue to live like that. We need to go to a mutation now."

Crackpot, visionary, madman, sage: Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky is all of these, perhaps. His '70s-'80s series of films, including Fando y Lis, El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre, have typically provoked as many howls of outrage for their violent, repellant and blasphemous scenarios as they have fervent worship for their stunningly original imagery and brazen disregard for standard filmmaking contrivance.

Jodorowsky has also been a mime, a stage director, a cartoonist and comic book writer and a Tarot reader. His films are a baroquely unsane experience, an artful riot of Jungian psychology, Buddhist birth pangs, primeval ultra-carnage, the lure of the loins. They’re about mothers and fathers and faith and death and time and space and the cancer of the spirit; they’re rather twisted love letters to women and touching odes to the deformed and depraved; they are anti-war, anti-consumerist, anti-establishment and most of all anti-boredom. Their fundamentally perverse nature is cathartic in its brutal banality and utter bizarreness.

Jodorowsky’s films are like 365 days of the dead, savoring life too much not to wallow in its wormy corollary. He was, you might say, the first filmmaker to truly unite Eastern with Western, and that’s a much-imitated aesthetic for which he’s rarely given his due. He defines his art via phone from his home in Paris.

BLUEFAT: Your films have been called many things –– psychedelic spaghetti westerns, head trips, horror films –– but maybe the best way to describe them is as an ode to the power of imagination.

ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY: It was my goal. I want to liberate my imagination and my mind with every kind of movie. That is what I wanted to do all my life.