Monday Movie: Endless Poetry, by Andrew Benjamin
Every Monday, we’ll highlight a piece of writing from our vaults. This review of Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky) originally ran as a theatrical review.
When Alejandro Jodorowsky makes a film, it’s like an event. He so rarely makes movies and when he does, it seems like they take forever to make it into a theater. As soon as you sit in the theater and see “An Alejandro Jodorowsky Film” you know you’re in for an experience like no other. Endless Poetry is another fantastic entry in the eclectic filmmaker’s repertoire and it’s one of his best.
Even though all of Jodorowsky’s films focus on characters that are extensions of himself, this might be the most Jodorowskian out of all of them. The main character is Jodorowsky himself (played by Alejandro’s son Adan as an adult.) The filmmaker even appears as himself in parts of the film. The film begins with his teenage upbringing under his strict Jewish father who wants Alejandro to become a doctor. Young and idealistic, Alejandro wants to be a poet, much against his father’s wishes going as far as to be berated with homophobic slurs for suggesting such a career. He befriends a number of bohemian artists in an enclave and as he grows up to become a renowned poet, we follow him through the world which he sees beaming with beauty, romanticism, and love.
The plot description doesn’t do this movie justice. But this movie isn’t necessarily about the plot. It’s about ideas of beauty and love. Alejandro is our guide in this journey and for the viewer we experience his triumphs and failures through this crazy world that this poet is trying to make sense of. Jodorowsky’s films don’t tend to have linear narratives but this might be the most linear out of all his films. I think this is much easier to follow compared to previous films and as such is much easier to get engaged with and get in from the get go.
Even though it is strikingly different to his other films, you still have the staples: nudity, critiques of fascism and little people among many other trademarks. We do get a mixture of weird characters and scenarios. Alejandro’s mom speaks with an operatic voice instead of a conversational tone and stagehands remove objects the characters are done using. This film isn’t as esoteric as his others and I believe makes it a much more digestible film for people who may not be the biggest fans of his Jodorowsky’s films.
Jodorowsky and cinematographer Christopher Doyle are great at creating a beautiful look and aesthetic quality to the movie. It could be described as a lucid dream. The movie is grounded in 90% of reality with the other 10% having that dream like quality to it. Extras in the movie are wearing blank, emotionless masks. No really. Masks over their face. It lends a theatrical aspect to the film, which makes given Jodorowsky’s theatre background. It is a great look and design for the film that will sadly get ignored come Oscar time.
Endless Poetry is one of the best movies of the year. It is the most accessible film that Jodorowsky has made, yet he doesn’t compromise his style or vision. Fans of his will love this and embrace this movie. If you’ve ever been hesitant to try a film of his because it looks “too weird” or “pretentious” give this a try. This is his easiest film to dive into and you won’t regret it.