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El Topo [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

It was the landmark cult film that began the whole Midnight Movie phenomena of the counterculture crazy 1970s. EL TOPO was the most talked about, most controversial quasi-Western head trip ever made, transforming the way risk-taking audiences, seeking mainstream Hollywood alternatives, watched edgy underground films. Classic Americana and avant-garde European cinema sensibilities meet Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and cosmic mystic El Topo (played by writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky) must defeat his four sharp-shooting rivals on an ever-increasingly bizarre path to allegorical self-enlightenment and surreal resurrection.

Special Features

El Topo original theatrical trailer
Original script exerpts
El Topo photo gallery
On camera interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky
Feature commentary by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Product Details

  • Actors: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Jose M. Barrutia Legarreta, Alfonso Arau, Jose Luis Fernandez
  • Directors: Alejandro Jodorowsky
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Color
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (PCM Stereo), English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese Brazilian, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004LWL0YS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,957 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "El Topo [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I recently saw El Topo at the IFC Theater in NYC, and the restoration was beautiful. This film has only been available in North America in bootleg form, and these bootlegs ran from from passable to abominable. My personal copy was a VHS dub of a Japanese laserdisc, which had the film optically censored (you can't show pubic hair in Japan, but just about everything else), Japanese subtitles, and it was dubbed in English (it is supposed to be in Spanish). Now we will get it as the great Alejandro meant it to be seen. This film is really astounding at times, considering Jodorowsky was mainly known as a theater director, and he had only directed one previous feature (the little seen and frequently banned Fando y Lis). His films have a truly hallucinatory quality that is magnificent to behold. This was reportedly John and Yoko's favorite movie. They recommended that Allen Klein pick up the rights to it, and he did. Allen and Alejandro have been feuding for the last 30 years over this film and who owns the rights, but luckily, they've made peace (let's hope it stays that way). El Topo, along with The Holy Mountain, are Jodorowsky's best films. Many thanks to ABKCO films for finally releasing this masterpiece.

Just to let you know, the above is a review of El Topo. This review is also appearing for some reason under the box set of The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. The box set is magnificent, by the way...
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Format: VHS Tape
Notorious as "the" cult movie between "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "El Topo" certainly deserves a new, commercial DVD edition no less than the aforementioned cult hits and the contemporaneous "Pink Flamingoes." The film is primarily Jodorowsky's private allegory, often inscrutable but nonetheless thought-provoking and conducive to productive discussion--perhaps more than any independent film prior to "Eraserhead."

There's something for everyone in this film. The alternative, cultist crowd will enjoy the striking, often daring, imagery--the nude child who accompanies the mole, the wife impaled on a lofty stake towering over a pool of blood, the lust in the dust scenes, the mutilated bodies, the homoerotic images, etc. The philosophic and theologic-minded will have a field day with the film, drawing as it does on all three of the world's major religions with a good deal of "magic realism" thrown in. (El Topo's mortification and transformation into a clown recalls both St. Paul's "you must become a fool for Christ" and the privileged and sacred role of the clown in Eastern religions; his self-immolation summons up television imagery of Buddhist monks in Viet Nam during the time of the film's production.) The archetypologists will no doubt interpret the film as a variation on the Campbell monomyth, beginning with the hero's departure and--following numerous tests, descent into the belly of the whale, and resurrection--concluding with his return home.
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Format: Blu-ray
El Topo (The Mole) (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1971)
[originally posted 10Apr2000]

El Topo is a film that's taken on almost mythical dimensions, thanks to an almost thirty-year-long custody battle between Jodorowsky and the film's original distribution company that's kept it out of the public eye almost since its release in 1971 [ed. note 15Aug2013: things were finally settled, and the movie was released in the Western hemisphere on DVD for the first time in 2007]. Thankfully, in 1996, a copy found its way into wide release in Japan, and Republic Video, never one to shirk an idea that will make them a buck, have imported the Japanese release of the movie and started distributing it in the west. So these days, if you get a copy of El Topo, you've either got a bootleg or a copy with subtitles in Japanese and blurring over the naughty bits. (One wonders what the Japanese censors envision happening to society if they're able to see a two-second clip of four men getting spanked.)

As is the way of such things, the inability of the public to see El Topo has elevated it to near-mythical status, and the extremely high quality of Jodorowsky's more widely-released output (see my recent review of Santa Sangre) has churned the waters into an almost fever pitch over the film. As is also the way of such things, it's next to impossible for any film to live up to that kind of hype, and El Topo is no exception. Yes, it's a good film, and yes, Jodorowsky fans will enjoy the thick symbolism laced with sex and violence (none of which, as usual, is gratuitous).
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Format: DVD
El Topo is the classic Mexican film hailed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono enough that it was shown at midnight in many cinemas for years. It is often credited as starting the midnight movie countercultural that helped bring attention to, and build cult film audiences for movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and David Lynch's Eraserhead. In that respect it is far from a mainstream film but it got enough attention that it is celebrated even today. I feel that this is with good reason, as El Topo is one of best films ever made. Alejandro Jodorowsky directs and stars as the title character.

El Topo begins with its eponymous character in the desert with his son. He tells the boy to bury a picture of his mother and his toy in the sand as now it is time for him to become a man. The boy is vulnerable but El Topo leads him by example while protecting him in their various interactions with others. The film understands the western genre and the machismo that often accompanies it. El Topo is one bad cowboy who can guarantee protection for anyone he cares about. So it really sucks when he soon leaves his son behind with a bunch of monks after emasculating some evil banditos. He leaves with a girl he saved and he names her Mara. Mara loves El Topo for being the alpha male that he is, so she convinces him to kill the four best gunslingers so he can be baddest cowboy of them all. He manages to defeat them in various significant ways. These scenes are rich in biblical and other religious references and operate allegorically to show that being a bad cowboy isn't really all it's cracked up to be. Nevertheless, for better or worse, El Topo kills all four of them and begins to learn four specific lessons along the way.
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