Cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first son Brontis interviewed in “Miami New Times” ahead film retrospective

January 30, 2013

Portrait loge 2Yesterday, I supplied the “Miami New Times” art and culture blog “Cultist” with a short story on Brontis Jodorowsky, the son of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. I spoke with him via Skype last week (he lives in Paris). Miami will host a rare appreciation of his father’s films beginning early next week featuring one-night-only screenings of his most famous films. The eldest son of the director offered a reflection of working with his father as an actor in his movies at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. He spoke about his debut as the little son of the titular gunslinger in El Topo to his role playing his father’s father in the autobiographical film-in-progress, the Dance of Reality (no release date yet).

We spoke for a half hour, so I had a lot of material, and I am still hoping to hear back from his father via email, who is very occupied with the post-production of first movie in 20 years. It turned out to be fitting that our conversation began with my curiosity in the name Jodorowsky decided to bestow on his firstborn. Brontis explained it is actually a Greek surname, which alludes to a trio of brothers who seemed to have lived a carefree life in Jodorowsky’s hometown of Tocopilla, Chile where he was born in 1929. “The grass is always greener in the other yard,” the younger Jodorowsky said. “He thought that these children were free and happy,” he explained before adding: “My father had a very severe education from his father … and he remembers his childhood as a very sad and violent thing, and he always felt very different from other people.”

The elder Jodorowsky has never hidden his childhood of abuse, which he covers early in the book that inspired the Dance of Reality (it is only available in Spanish). Brontis pointed out something even more curious about his father. When the director married his first wife and failed to produce a child, Brontis said, La Danza de la Realidad cover“My father concluded that he was sterile.” He said his father saw it as poetic justice, as it made him last in the Jodorowsky line, and “he was killing the Jodorowsky name, and then he met my mother, who was convinced this was all crap, and she proved to him that he was not sterile.”

The younger Jodorowsky said his father had never fantasized about naming children until the point his first son was born. He wanted to end the curse of the names Jaime (Alejandro’s father) and Alejandro (his grandfather) in his family, so he went with Brontis, recalling those happy children of his hometown. “Normally, in Jewish tradition, you give your father’s name to your children, but  he hated his father and said, ‘I can’t give my child the name of my father because I hate my father, but these children were free and happy, so let’s stop the curse of all the Jaimes and the Alejandros [because he carries his grandfather’s name], and if I call him Brontis he will be a free and happy boy.’”

The younger Jodorowsky cannot help but feel amused that in the new film by his father he plays Jaime. “The main character is his father, Alejandro’s father, and he asked me to play his father. In the end, we make the whole turn of our conversation,” he said with a laugh. “He didn’t name me Jaime in reality, but he named me Jaime in the film.”

I could not help but notice if this film might be the most “psychomagical” of the director’s career, to use one of the director’s own terms. Here is a 10-minute interview with the filmmaker where he explains the concept:

“It is. It absolutely is,” agreed Brontis, “but if you see El Topo and Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre, in all his films he’s really doing some kind of psychomagic. He’s working on something artistic— and at the same time— on a personal level. If he does a film it’s because he needs to do it. It’s not only ‘I’m an artist, and I want to make a movie.’ It’s also because he has to live intimately.”

I am hoping that this humanist and intellectual insight might allow a different perspective than just superficial “that’s so weird” appreciation of Jodorowsky’s cinema. This director is a symbolist in a very Jungian sense. Miami Beach Cinematheque Founder and Director Dana Keith added via email: “My favorite quote from Jodorowsky is ‘I ask of cinema what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.’ He truly expands people’s minds with his surreal films by utilizing his imagination in groundbreaking ways, and making the camera a paint brush. We are very happy that the films have been restored and are now available for MBC and Indie Film Club members and others to experience in a theatrical setting, where they belong. No added stimulants are necessary!”

You can read a longer interview with Brontis Jodorowsky, where he also shares memories from the set of El Topo, by visiting the Cultist Blog (jump through the image):

cultist banner

Hans Morgenstern

This interview was done to coincide with a rare month-long retrospective of Alejandro Jodrowsky’s films. A total of four films will screen at the Miami Beach Cinematheque:

Full details and ticket information

The first screening, of Jodrowsky’s 1970 film El Topo, will feature a live introduction by Alejandro Jodrowsky and his eldest son, Brontis Jodrowsky. It happens Sunday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. It is timed and coordinated as part of the finale of Filmgate, an interactive media festival for filmmakers by the Indie Film Club, which kicks of Friday, Feb. 1:

More details on Filmgate

So who is Alejandro Jodorowsky? I’ll let the trailers of the four films screening in the retrospective speak for themselves. Warning: these avant-garde movies spawned of the psychedelic era feature (archetypal) images that are sometimes NSFW:

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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