Endless Poetry

Journal of Religion and Film, October 2017 | Go to article overview

Endless Poetry


It can be easy to overlook how important a role autobiography plays in the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, as even his more surreal works like El Topo and The Holy Mountain are centered on his own spiritual journey (he in fact wanted to play the lead in El Topo because he wanted to make El Topo's spiritual journey into his own). However, with the release of Endless Poetry, its predecessor The Dance of Reality and his recently translated autobiographical novel Where the Bird Sings Best (which focuses on Jodorowsky's ancestors and ends with the author's own birth), it is starting to become clear just how much Jodorowsky's own life has been the driving force behind his art.

Endless Poetry (Poesia Sin Fin) is the second part of a planned five part series of films chronicling Jodorowsky's own life, though with considerable artistic liberties. While it is by far his most restrained work, Endless Poetry is still replete with Jodorowsky's penchant for surreal imagery, including his usual parade of dwarves and amputees as well as homages to the circus and enough symbolic imagery to fill a book. One of the few downfalls of Endless Poetry and The Dance of Reality is that the symbolism is often so specific to Jodorowsky's own past as to be impenetrable without the director's commentary. Take the role of his mother for example, played by Pamela Flores, who sings all of her lines because, as Jodorowsky informed us in an interview some years ago, his real mother had always dreamed of being an opera singer and this was his way of making her dream come true. Without this information, having just one character sing all of her lines can come off only as a pretentious indulgence on the director's part (which perhaps it still is anyway).

However, these frustrations are at worst only a minor distraction from what is otherwise a breathless exploration of the birth of an artist and the deep spiritual desire to create. Where The Dance of Reality focused on Jodorowsky's childhood, Endless Poetry focuses on him first as a teenager (Jeremias Herskovits) and then as a young man (Alejandro's own son Adan Jodorowsky) in Santiago, Chile, following his momentous decision to abandon his father's wishes for him to become a doctor and pursue poetry instead. His father Jaime (played by another of Jodorowsky's sons, Brontis) is a stern and unloving man who clings to archaic notions of masculinity ("men do not touch each other," he tells his son at one point), who thinks poetry will turn his son into a "faggot." After being forced to lie about his career plans at a family gathering, Alejandro, in a fit of rage, chops down a beloved tree in the backyard and storms out, disowning his family. …

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