Reviewing a film like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality (La Danza de la Realidad) is a tricky thing. Rarely do films achieve such a level of mind-boggling skill, flaunting an incredible fusion of art and entertainment like nothing you’ve ever seen. The legendary director’s first film in 23 years is an account of his childhood in 1930’s Chile, focusing on his troubled relationship with his father. At the Glasgow Film Festival Q & A with Brontis Jodorowsky (Alejandro’s son and lead actor in The Dance of Reality) the film’s reconciliatory purposes were made clear.
Here Jodorowsky considers his entire youth, reimagining various important events and circumstance. The meticulously executed fantastical elements can at times seem intense, distancing the viewer from the actual story of the film. However, Jodorowsky’s unrelenting surrealism ultimately proves so literal it just seems impenetrable and that makes it all the more appreciable. Jodorowsky’s mother’s unfulfilled desire to be an opera singer is here addressed by having her sing all her lines. The half-finished quality to dreams and memories is here represented by all inconsequential characters’ wearing expressionless masks. Unresolved relations with his father are perhaps the most extensively addressed as it is Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky) who is sent on a journey of self-exploration. This series of bizarre happenstance, set against a backdrop of political disorder and communist uprising, is an honest open letter to Jodorowsky’s estranged father.
The village of Tocopilla is exotic and farcical with a host of colourful characters, each new character appearing to paint another detail onto the intricate portrait of Jodorowsky’s youth. Most obvious in all this is that even in a break of almost a quarter century, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s wit and visual capability have not been dulled. These images and tales- in the end- only add up to one perspective, but with such accomplished cohesiveness The Dance of Reality feels like a hundred gorgeous vignettes of a fascinating world. It would be a mistake for me to take characters or events and attempt to explore their relevance to the narrative of the film and, more importantly, Jodorowsky’s life. Instead I’ll urge you to see and experience it for yourself.
The journey to Jodorowsky’s past unveils a bizarre and utterly entrancing tale of philosophical coming-of-age. The vibrant atmosphere of “Python”-esque tom-foolery mixed with beautiful visuals and often blunt social critique makes Jodorowsky’s latest a welcome return.