“Rejoice your sufferings. Thanks to them, you will reach me.” — Alejandro Jodorowsky
That was one of the final lines in filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s previous film, The Dance of Reality (Jodorowsky heals psychic wounds with fabulist recreation of childhood in ‘Dance of Reality’). With Endless Poetry, the Chilean filmmaker continues his reckoning with art, family and the pressures of social expectations, from where his previous movie left off. His film is a family affair with actor/musician/filmmaker Adan Jodorowsky, the director’s youngest son, playing the young version of the father who directs him, as he discovers his calling as a poet. There’s no mistaking this film as a continuation from Jodorowsky’s previous autobiographical work. It opens on the poetic note it left off on, the childhood version of himself (Jeremias Herskovits) standing next to the director, as both versions sail away from his parents (Brontis Jodorowsky and Pamela Flores).
This chapter (the second of what Jodorowsky plans to be a quintilogy), however, is about coming to terms with the nascent artist who has seemingly found his freedom. The word “seemingly” is essential because Jodorowsky shows little preciousness for any aspect of human existence, even in the alleged happy-go-lucky lifestyle of an artist. Hypocrisy and pain are as real to the expressive artist as it is to the oppressed artist. Jodorowsky’s art is vivid in this, especially when the specter of his father appears as a giant disembodied head yelling “faggot!” as he tries to write his first lines of poetry. Endless Poetry can be hilarious one second and heartbreaking the other. Like great filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and David Cronenberg, Jodorowsky conjures scenes that are humorous because of shameful truths that speak to personal, selfish desires while working in conflict to the ties that bind children to parents and the downloads of persona those parents pass on to their offspring.
Jodorowsky is as much a realist as he is a surrealist, bringing to life the inconsistencies of existence, love and artistic expression with stark truths. He spins fabulist scenes like the one above to capture the role of trauma in art. At 88 years old, the director offers lucid wisdom into creativity and its impact on family with direct humor. Of course young Alejandro finds his first muse to be a sort of demonic representation of his mother (the same actress plays her). Instead of love, she challenges him with cruelty, telling him they will walk the streets not holding hands but she will clutch onto his balls … and she delivers.
As with Jodorowsky’s previous film, the scenes flow into each other with an associative dream logic flowing on layers that deepen previous scenes. Once again working with his wife, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky as costume designer, not to mention bringing in the incredible Christopher Doyle as cinematographer, Endless Poetry is a brightly colored dream of a movie that’s always pushing toward a redemption that seems out of reach. Working with his two sons (Adan also once again composes the film’s soundtrack), the director shows the intense harmony of family while never forgetting the strains of familial bonds we all can relate with via an expressive work of soul-stirring art. The psychomagic is real.
Endless Poetry runs 128 minutes, is in Spanish with English subtitles and is not rated. It is currently showing in our South Florida area at O Cinema Miami Beach — who invited us to a screening for the purpose of this review — through Aug. 6. It moves to O Cinema Wynwood and opens at the Miami Beach Cinematheque on Aug. 4. For screenings in other parts of the U.S., visit the film’s website.