This might seem to some to just be hyperbole, but my viewing of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s spiritual horror Santa Sangre – if I can classify it that way – last year truly changed my cinematic life. It was a film of immense precision, not only in how the director structured events and guided a narrative, but through the use of overt symbolism and its unparalleled intelligence. Jodorowsky is known for the mind bending oddities of his cinematic adventures deservedly so, but many forget just how intelligent the man is with how tales are acted out and characters defined.
Santa Sangre is home to all those qualities and it’s for that reason, and many I can’t even begin to explain, that I proudly proclaim it to be the greatest film I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a masterpiece, an unstoppable force, unlike anything I’m ever likely to see. It’s also one of Jodorowsky’s final works until now oddly enough and it’s fascinating to see how enthusiastic the director remains despite a lengthy 23 years gap between films.
It was perhaps a little unwise to have unhealthy expectations of a work similar to the quality of Santa Sangre, but whilst The Dance of Reality isn’t drenched in the overt symbolism Jodrowsky has trademarked over the years – He is 85 years old after all – there exists in this film a charisma by way of how sequences are constructed and the narrative is told. Many have labelled it as Jodorowsky’s 8½ due to the way The Dance of Reality’s events are told with an autobiographical strategy, and truth be told the comparison to Fellini’s classic is one of the few ways I can even begin to describe the format of Jodorowsky’s latest, even if what the Chilean maestro is telling here is far beyond anything Fellini attempted.
On many occasions here, Jodorowsky overshadows the narrative quite literally as a sort of ‘’guardian angel’’ detailing his childhood and relationship with his controlling, yet rational father. It’s exhilarating, Jodorowsky detailing events with a less harrowing – it’s still dark and menacing – approach to that of the character’s evolution during Santa Sangre, before the tale drifts towards the demise of his father through a sequence of powerful, poetic times in his life.
To say much more about what Jodorowsky is doing here is not only difficult, but it would damage the experience of any potential viewer. All I will say is that with The Dance of Reality, a film I’ve been eagerly anticipated for what seems like an eternity, has cemented his place as my favourite filmmaker of all-time. A god of cinema.