Legendary Cult Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky Turns 82

Chiliean-born filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is probably not a household name. But he is one of the most original filmmakers of all time, who has influenced creative renegades from Dennis Hopper to David Lynch to Marilyn Manson. For a long time his work was literally impossible to find, but recently his films are being revisted, viewed and re-viewed if only because it has never been so available.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s what Roger Ebert had to say about Jodorowsky:

He has drawn comic strips, and worked in the circus, and was the assistant of Marcel Marceau, the great mime, and the partner of Arrabal, the Spanish surrealist. He is a movie director, but he isn’t an ambitious young cash technician with a degree from USC and an agent at CAA. He’s out there making the kinds of movies Hollywood is too timid to make anymore–explosions of images, filmed with a burning intensity, torn from the pit of his soul.

His previous films are El Topo (1971), a cult classic, and The Holy Mountain (1972). Then he did not make movies for years, because who would finance this strange man? He is the kind of person you could listen to all night long, because in a world of safe and passionless people, this is a man who has lived many lives. Most movies are boring. His are not. His secret is, he doesn’t care if he pleases you; he makes his movies because he is driven to it.

Ebert listed Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre amongst the ten best films of 1990.

Back in 1970, El Topo caught the attention of John Lennon, while in the process of becoming the first big draw Midnight Movie, running for months in Manhattan. Lennon urged Allen Klein the president of the Beatles’ company to support El Topo‘s US distribution and help fund Holy Mountain. That turned out to ultimately be a curse; a feud between them led to Klein restricting both films from any distribution for 30 years. The films didn’t play at festivals and never even came out on video.

Recently all of these films have been remastered and released on DVD. Santa Sangre was released on DVD & Blu-ray in the US for the first time just last week.

Jodorowsky hasn’t made a film since 1990. Two recent projects fell apart before they were made: King Shot (set to star Nick Nolte and Marilyn Manson) and Son of El Topo (whose Russian financiers apparently disappeared with no trace).

In this interview from 2007 Jodorowsky discusses his approach to art and sculpting in boogers.

Happy Birthday, Alejandro! And thanks for all the christs!