Film Review – Endless Poetry
Late in the film, nearing the climax of its final act, the character Alejandro Jodorowsky (Adan Jodorowsky) tells his family of artist friends that he is moving from their home of Chile to Paris, France where he will “save surrealism.” The proclamation, prophetic and self-referential, lays bare an essential emotion running through writer, producer and director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s second film in his planned autobiographical trilogy of the story of his life becoming a famed surrealist filmmaker, life is short and precious so always follow your dreams.
With the first film in his autobiographical series The Dance of Reality, Jodorowsky chronicled his life as a child from his early upbringing in Russia to his move to Chile at a young age and focused on the theme of life, with its hardships and obstacles, as merely a dance, energy moving in a cadence to an unheard rhythm. Here, now telling the story of himself as a young adult searching for his place in the world as poet, Jodorowsky faces maturing themes of desire and responsibility in the context of a fleeting and tenuous existence.
In Dance, Jodorowksy cast his son Brontis in the role of his father Jaime. Here he casts his younger son Adan in the role of himself. Adan, extroverted and charismatic yet mannered with a sense of longing underpinning his flamboyance, fits comfortably in the role of his father and makes for perhaps Jodorowsky’s strongest leading actor to date. Adan’s presence lightens a mood that for Alejandro is often mired too heavily in self-indulgence. Not that this isn’t indulgent, however its indulgence in its creator’s examination of his own life is levitated considerably by Adan’s charms as an eager and somewhat naïve Alejandro.
Covering the years from his graduation to his leaving Chile for France, Jodorowsky presents himself as person learning the value of personal freedom having grown up in father-domineering household. Jodorowksy’ presentation of his father Jaime is often not kind nor favorable. Brontis, also a commanding actor, gives the role of Jaime a menacing quality that is only rarely alleviated by his utter exasperation with pretty much everyone, but especially his in-laws. Pulling from his oeuvre of surrealist filmmaking techniques, Jodorowsky layers into his movie an unworldly quality of visual madcap antics, expressing a veritable garden of thoughts and emotions in regards to not only his own life, but existence itself.
Like the overseer, ever-watching Shaman, Jodorowsky appears alongside his actors, in frame, on camera, narrating not events so much as interpretations of emotions and along with that a wrestling of demons that gets unlocked. The poet Jodorowsky is exploratory and rebellious in his newfound freedom. Rejecting his father’s plan for his life of being a doctor, he instead plunges head first into the avant-garde scene of Chile where he meets his first muse Stella Díaz Varín (Pamela Flores).
With Endless Poetry, Jodorowsky has created his most personal and subsequently enjoyable film to date. Hilarious at times and engaging throughout, there’s a cohesion to the desired aim of self-expression that seems less experimental and more competent in knowing exactly what it is he has to say. Of course, this would be what he knows best, his own growth as a person and therefore a character in his own story.
Empowered by a newfound freedom, Alejandro shows an uninhibited proclivity to his adult life decisions, ignoring, or perhaps just not considering the impracticality of being a professional poet as means of earning a living. The period of Jodorowsky’s life at the center of the story is that of a young adult unburdened by a sense of responsibility and invigorated by choice. As any Jodorowsky film goes there is always space for something uncomfortable and challenging to appear. Less concerned with the shock of violence here, there is instead a honing in on the fealty of learning the nature of one’s true self. Enigmatic and yet accessible through its narrative structure, Jodorowsky has crafted a movie that shows a refined since of craftsmanship in the filmmaking and an expression from an artist faced with his own mortality.