There are few filmmakers who work in near pure metaphor these days. Even fewer that do it with alacrity. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (Jodorowsky’s Dune) highly autobiographical bit of cinema is as intimate and beguiling as it is, at times, baffling. Somehow, though, both the plot and visual story keep you engaged and intrigued. Part of the reason for its success is that, despite its highly self-referential plot, the ideas resonate universally enough to have impact.
Not only was this story an attempt to resolve his past, it was very much a family affair. His sons, Brontis Jodorowsky, Adan Jodorowsky, and Axel Jodorowsky all hold prominent roles (and Adan also wrote the music) while his wife, Pascale Jodorowsky did the costumes. There is something both intriguing and a little odd about that arrangement, but when the material is this personal it provides a weird frission that adds to the near-voyeuristic experience.
The only major roles not part of the Jodorowsky clan were played by Pamela Flores, as the opera singing mother, and Jeremías Herskowits as his younger self. Which means mentioning that Jodorowsky himself played narrator and incarnation of the boy grown up. Flores had a fascinatingly challenging role that Freud would have a field day with. Herskowits was mainly a puppet of the older Jodorowsky. He was fine in the role, but the loose style of filming didn’t provide him the structure to act well, unlike Brontis’ efforts.
There are several short extras on the disc that provide insight to the intent and truths behind Dance. Each of those involved are able to talk about their efforts well. The elder Jodorowsky, in particular, is never at a loss at hyperbole for his art… but it is genuine, which is what makes it work. He isn’t trying to commit art, he really is trying to realize a vision that is unique and internal and make it relevant for everyone. Well, to be fair, he probably thinks it is relevant as most artists do, but he does it well. Dance is a visual feast and a mental exercise, but if you enjoy auteur cinema or simply want to see something rather different from the typical movie today, this is one not to miss.