The Dance of Reality (2013) La danza de la realidad

The Dance of Reality (2013) La danza de la realidad

Title: The Dance of Reality
Year: 2013
Original title: La danza de la realidad
Runtime: 132 min
Country: Chile | France
Genre: Biography | Drama | Fantasy

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Cast
Brontis Jodorowsky…Jaime
Pamela Flores…Sara
Alejandro Jodorowsky…Alejandro as an Adult
Jeremias Herskovits…Alejandro as a child
Bastián Bodenhöfer…Carlos Ibáñes
Adan Jodorowsky…Anarchist
Axel Jodorowsky…Theosophist
Andres Cox…Aquiles

Plot / Synopsis

The extinct volcano of underground cinema has burst into life once again — with a bizarre, chaotic and startling film; there are some longueurs and gimmicks, but The Dance of Reality is an unexpectedly touching and personal work. At the age of 84, and over 20 years since his last movie, Alejandro Jodorowsky has returned to his hometown of Tocopilla in the Chilean desert to create a kind of magic-realist memoir of his father, Jaime Jodorowsky, a fierce Communist whose anger at the world — at his son — was redoubled by the anti-Semitism the family faced. Of course, the entire story is swathed in surreal mythology, dream logic and instant day-glo legend, resmembling Fellini, Tod Browning, Emir Kusturica, and many more. You can’t be sure how to extract conventional autobiography from this. Despite the title, there is more “dance” than “reality” — and that is the point. Or part of the point. For the first time, Jodorowsky is coming close to telling us how personal evasiveness has governed his film-making style; his flights of fancy are flights of pain, flights from childhood and flights from reality. And now he is using his transformative style to come to terms with and change the past and to confer on his father some of the heroism that he never attained in real life. As a child, young Alejandro is played by Jeremias Herskowits, and as an old man by the director himself, who cuts a distinguished, Haneke-like figure with his white hair and trimmed beard. His father Jaime is played by the director’s son Brontis Jodorowsky, which lends the project an intriguingly Freudian flavour. (Until this moment, the scene in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom in which the director dropped creepy-crawlies on his son’s pillow was the roughest father-son moment in cinema. But here Jodorowsky films a scene in which Jaime is tortured by the state police, and a naked Brontis Jodorowsky has electrodes attached to his testicles in full camera view). Alejandro’s mother Sara (Pamela Flores) is a buxom woman of great emotional yearning who sings her lines like opera. She mollycoddles and indulges her boy, to the fury of Jaime, paterfamilias and tyrant, who wants him to be a real man and an indestructible warrior of the international Stalinist Left. So he toughens the boy by tickling him with a feather and demanding that he doesn’t laugh — and also insisting he has no anaesthetic at the dentist. Jaime is deeply ashamed when young Alejandro faints with horror at the funeral parade of a fireman who has been burned to death — Jodorowsky brilliantly imagines a macabre fantasy of Alejandro lying next to the charred corpse. Finally Jaime leaves, on a mission to assassinate the hated Chilean general Ibanez, a mission which ends in grotesque failure, but leads to an epiphany. The film is oddly moving for what it conceals, or accidentally reveals: the director’s very real, understandable emotions of pain and regret on the subject of his father, and how these emotions are being managed and contained with surrealist mythologising. In this movie, the director is bidding farewell to his past, and to his childhood, and perhaps to the world. It is an arresting spectacle.

Awards: Oslo Films from the South Festival:Best Feature

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