Director Profile: Alejandro Jodorowsky

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Known by cult cinema fans as the master of the surreal, Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky presents avant-garde images that challenge viewers and present questions of religion, mysticism, and spiritualism.

Before starting his film career, Jodorowsky practiced poetry and dropped out of college to pursue theatre and mime. Through this, he moved to Paris in the early 1950’s to continue studying the art form. Jodorowsky has clearly always had an artistic streak within him and turned to Cinema for the first time in 1957.

He directed his first short film, Les têtes interverties, which invovled mime to adapt the 1940 Thomas Mann novella The Transposed Heads (Die vertauschten Köpfe). It starred Raymond Devos, known for his surrealist comedy, as well as Jodorowsky himself.

Jodorowsky wouldn’t direct his first feature for another 10 years but spent the time in between continuing to study the arts and performance, creating the Panic Movement along with Roland Topor and Fernando Arrabel in 1962.

The Movement’s theatrical events often depicted violence and destruction, with the intent to shock audiences, using animals and self-inflicted wounds as a response to surrealism becoming more and more mainstream at the time. Even before his film career, it’s evident that Jodorowsky was interested in provocative art, telling stories in unconventional ways, and confronting problems in unique ways.

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