MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Try as one might, but it is seemingly impossible not to start a review for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s newest film, The Dance of Reality, without mentioning the fact that the Chilean visionary has not directed a film in a little over two decades. Not only is he back, he is back with his particular brand of psychedelic abstraction, frames upon frames brimming with vibrant, kaleidoscopic set-pieces that only Jodorowsky’s imagination can conjure.
The Dance of Reality is a deeply personal film, a cinematic memoir of Jodorowsky’s early childhood in the coastal city of Tocopilla. This being Jodorowsky, however, his childhood reminiscings are liberally saturated with magical realism, surrealism and other various artistic freedoms creating a one-of-a-kind autobiographical daydream of a film.
Jodorowsky’s early childhood memories are given a full-on fantasy treatment with the real-life director guiding and protecting his younger version, played by Jeremias Herskovits, while at the same time interpreting the interactions of his past, providing insight to the profound effects these situations had on the young Alejandro, developing and shaping the man and his art as we know it today. His mother, Sara (Pamela Flores), singing all of her dialogue as if the film is an opera while his father, Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky), appears to be an exaggerated Stalin-obsessed communist preoccupied with instilling his son with the trademarks of ultra-masculinity along with hammering the idea that God does not exist into his impressionable young mind.
Even though it’s been a little over two decades since Jodorowsky’s last film, his distinct visual style is as strong as ever with every other frame being a breathtaking work of art. Surreal set-pieces bathed bright in primaries, wide angle shots of the valley with the tremendous Coastal mountain range looming in the background populated by a black-clad, illness-stricken parade of the poor with umbrellas in-hand, marching onward to their new government-issued beachside quarantine, all of it as impressive as one has come to expect from Jodorowsky.
The Dance of Reality’s genius lies within the fact that it works, simultaneously, as the perfect starting point to Jodorowsky’s filmography, but also as a magnificently fitting swansong to an undeniably singular career. It showcases the moments in his early life, those that shaped him and guided him into the creative force he is today while also providing the viewer with an insight into the influences behind his famous works, like a cinematic director’s commentary on his career in film.