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Jodorowsky DVD boxset


La Constellation Jodorowsky
featuring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Peter Gabriel, and Jean 'Moebius' Giraud
director: Louis Mouchet

91 minutes (tbc) 1994
Tartan DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
When the old legal wrangle with Allen Klein eventually dissolved, it seemed inevitable that the works of the father of the Panic movement would eventually find their way into a boxset. When the decision to produce such a set was handed down, the compilers must have looked upon Swiss-made La Constellation Jodorowsky as nothing short of a godsend as the great man allegedly only gives interviews in Spanish these days despite being fluent in a number of different languages.

Despite being a feature length documentary that is mostly taken up by interview footage, La Constellation Jodorowsky does not spend much time digging into Jodorowsky's background or psychology. Instead, it chooses to ask him about a number of different projects he had undertaken in much the same way as one find such issues covered in a DVD extra (see what I mean about godsend?). The film begins by covering Jodorowsky's work as a 'writer' for the French mime artist Marcel Marceau, who explains how Jodorowsky came up with the idea of the mime artist who is trapped in a box. Apparently until Jodorowsky pitched the idea to Marceau, this iconic mime had never occurred to anyone. Marceau is a game old chap despite being in his early seventies here and the fluid movements of his hands and face show the skill that made him arguably the only world-famous mime artist in existence. After discussing Jodorowsky's early days and showing fascinating footage of Jodorowsky's early surrealist 'Panic' performances (the movement took its name from the god Pan), the film moves on to Jodorowsky's films including El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Fando & Lis, and Santa Sangre.

Not staying long to dwell on any of the details, the film then moves on to Jodorowsky's career as a comic-strip writer and his partnership with comics artist Jean 'Moebius' Giraud. They talk about Jodorowsky's fantastic but ill-fated attempt to bring Frank Herbert's Dune to the screen (with Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen and music by Pink Floyd) before discussing works such as The Incal and the Caste Of The Meta-Barons series. All of this takes up about the first two thirds of the film with the final third devoted to a series of 'cultural happenings' hosted by Jodorowsky in Paris wherein he talks about his art and mysticism and deals in the particular brand of psychoanalysis that he has devised whereby one makes strangers play the parts of members of your family allowing you to not only confront your family but also physically create a map of the relationships within your family. Jodorowsky claims that this comes from his reading of the tarot but it merely brought to my mind the claim that psychoanalysis does little more good for you than sitting down for an hour a week to talk about your problems in depth. There's nothing mystical or even psychological about this 'happening' it is merely Jodorowsky mirroring back at people what they themselves have seen and allowing them to step outside of their problems by articulating them in a physical manner.

Given Jodorowsky's role in the surrealist movement and his well known penchant for mysticism, one could be forgiven for expecting him to be a bit like comics artist and mystic Alan Moore who is famously difficult and 'individual' to the point of autism. However, Jodorowsky comes across as a remarkably spry 60-year-old man who is full of jokes and insights and who loves to talk about himself in an urbane and accessible manner that can't help but make you like the man. Indeed, as inaccessible as his films might well be, Jodorowsky himself appears to be almost welcoming of the interest shown in him. His thick accent and un-self-conscious style is reminiscent of the philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek who recently appeared in A Pervert's Guide To Cinema (2006), which showcased his skills as a film critic.

Though a little more lightweight than Jodorowsky fans might like, La Constellation Jodorowsky nonetheless proves to be a great introduction to the work of living art that is the man himself. I merely regret that less time was spent on his psychoanalysis in order to talk more about his films and art.

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