Thursday, 27 July 2017
Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Dance of Reality
The Dance of Reality is a very weird film. By that, you must understand that it’s very strange, bizarre and extreme, because I think I have a high tolerance for weirdness. It’s a stew of a film—a quasi-biographical film, reminiscent of Fellini’s Amarcord, mixed with surrealism and metaphor. With a tremendous imagination and a talent for crazy allegories, Jodorowsky creates a film full of striking images, bold colours and grotesque scenes: a boy throws a rock into the ocean that causes a wave dumping thousands of sardines all around him; a woman urinates over her husband to cure him of a fatal infection; a man decides to die, walks down to his grave and draws his last breath; a woman ties a stone to some balloons to carry her message; a man, with fear, becomes paralysed in the literal sense, etc. It’s no wonder that Jodorowsky said “I did not want LSD to be taken. I wanted to fabricate the drug's effects.”
However, it’s not weird for the sake of being weird. Even though the film has its longueurs, partly because the mother sings every single line like an operatic aria, and it’s not something I’d like to watch over and over again, it’s a very poignant film. Jaime the father, a Stalin-obsessed Jewish man, goes on quest to assassinate the Chilean dictator Ibáñez, only to realise later that Ibáñez and his hero Stalin are the same, and that Jaime himself is a tyrant. It’s not Ibáñez, but the tyrant in himself, that he has to destroy—that gives the film extraordinary emotional power. The Dance of Reality is, in a sense, a fantastical coming-of-age tale where it’s not the child but the father that learns and grows. The film is grotesque, but fascinating, and wonderfully human.