Review: El Topo Blu-ray

El Topo Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Alejandro Jodorowsky | CAST: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Jose Legarreta, Alfonso Arau
4/26/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.99
commentary, interview, English dub track, script excerpts, more
NR | 125 min. | Western | 1.33:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM stereo | English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

El Topo movie scene

Alejandro Jodorowsky goes for his gun in his 1970 film El Topo.

Alejandro Jodorowosky’s El Topo, the legendary 1970s midnight movie (when there really were midnight movies), made its Blu-ray debut a few months after Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989) took its first bow on Blu-ray. Alejandro is back. Cool!

For the uninitiated, El Topo — the 1970 film that John Lennon championed — is, well,  a violent, surreal, Spaghetti western mythological tale. Though that description is certain to summon up some kind of strong image, El Topo is one of those experiential/poetic films that is best plunged into head first with no prior knowledge, for better or worse. You’ll know if it’s your cup of tea within 10 minutes.

Fans of the filmmaker and his most famous movie should consider upgrading to the Blu-ray edition. Yes, the images are more precise, though not much richer in color. But it’s the sound that I grooved on, particularly the audio effects of Jodorowsky’s go-to sound man Gonzalo Gaviria, a legend of sorts in the audio community who’s best known in the U.S. for his work on The Exorcist. (The creaking of Regan’s head when it spun around was Gaviria twisting up a leather wallet filled with credit cards.) He does some outstanding work in El Topo, with its heightened sounds of leather boots trudging over dunes, creaking doors, swinging nooses and scissors snipping off false messiahs’ beards. It’s all right there,  bouncing around the speakers and really adding to the show.

All the bonus features from the 2007 El Topo DVD have been imported to the Blu-ray, including Jodorowsky’s commentary, a surrealistic experience in its own right.

Jodorowsky’s 1973 The Holy Mountain, an even trippier experience in my opionion, is also newly available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.