After 23 years since his last film, at the age of 84, Alejandro Jodorowsky comes back with one of his most personal films yet, The Dance of Reality (La Danza de la Realidad).
Still showing his taste for bizarre imagery, Jodorowsky bares his soul as he shares with us not only his personal childhood memories but also brings some of his family members to collaborate in different areas of the film: acting, costume design and music production.
The Dance of Reality starts with a small monologue by the director himself about how money controls the world. The film is filled with memories from Jodorowsky's hometown Tocopilla in Chile. We meet young Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits), his father Jaime (played by his real-life son Brontis) who is a strong-minded Communist and the loving mother Sara (Pamela Flores), who sings (!) her dialogue throughout the whole film in a powerful opera voice.
Young Alejandro spends his days being pampered by his mother and constantly bullied by his father into becoming a strong macho man. Living with these two polar examples of love, Alejandro walks around Tocopilla and meets different magical characters, from injured mine workers, dwarfs and a Theosophist (played by Alex Jodorowsky) who teaches him the wonders of meditation.
These encounters seem to have a big effect on Alejandro's life, they bring him closer to understanding why following his father's idea of becoming a man would bring chaos to the people around him. Jodorowsky is so present in this film that he not only acts as the narrator but also as a spiritual guide to young-Alejandro.
While we witness Alejandro in this coming-of-age story, we have the strong influence of political and social issues happening in Chile at the time. In the second half of the film, we start to follow Jaime's journey to break that shell and reborn as a righteous and loving individual, coming to terms with all the evil and sorrow he created upon himself. It feels like an attempt to reconcile with the lingering image of his father, go back in time and give him some sort of heroism that was never acknowledged or even existed in real life.
The Dance of Reality is a powerful tale on how saying goodbye to a dark past can be meaningful to one's soul. More than a film, Jodorowsky comes in terms with his saddest memories, embraces his family's souls and asks us to tag along for the ride.
As a big Jodorowsky fan, I feel like this film is a powerful healing exercise. It reveals his real emotions, how these situations changed the way he saw the world and why he decided to live so close to this imaginary world that he has shown us all these years.
All in all, Alejandro wants to share with you what he's seen, how he lives and who he is and that’s good enough for me.
ABKCO Films is releasing the film in the US theaters starting May 23rd, 2014. You can also check the official site of The Dance of Reality.
Video: The Dance of Reality was screened as the closing film at the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Here is Jodorowsky's introduction to the film.