Like so many of us, we were first acquainted with Jodorowsky via a midnight screening of his psychedelic Western El Topo. In my case that must have been either at the Filmhuis Theater or at Cartoon’s. In fact, the film practically jumpstarted the genre of the midnight movie:
“In December 1970, Jonas Mekas was organizing one of his periodic festivals of avant-garde films at the Elgin, a rundown six hundred seat theater, not unlike the Charles, on Eighth Avenue just north of Greenwich Village. Although the program was laden with major avant-garde figures, the most widely attended screenings were those on the three nights devoted to the films of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Elgin management took advantage of the hippie crowds to announce an added feature-Alexandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo to be shown at midnight because, as the first ad announced, it was “a film too heavy to be shown any other way.”” —Midnight Movies (1983)
El Topo (The Mole) is a 1970 Mexican allegorical, cult western movie and underground film, directed by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky. Characterized by its bizarre characters and occurrences, use of maimed and dwarf performers, and heavy doses of Christian symbolism and Eastern philosophy, the film is about the eponymous character – a violent, black-clad gunfighter – and his quest for enlightenment.
El Topo was World cinema classic #28
Researching Jodorowsky in the internet era, brought up the Panic Movement link.
The Panic Movement (Fr:Mouvement panique) was a collective formed in Paris in 1962 by Fernando Arrabal, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Roland Topor after casual meetings at the Parisian Café de la Paix. Inspired by and named after the god Pan, and influenced by Luis Buñuel and Antonin Artaud‘s Theatre of Cruelty, the group concentrated on chaotic performance art and surreal imagery.
In February 1962 Arrabal, Jodorowsky and Topor settle on the word panique. In September 1962, the word panique is printed for the first time: Arrabal publishes five récits “paniques” in André Breton’s periodical La Brèche.
The Panic Movement performed theatrical events designed to be shocking, as a response to surrealism becoming petite bourgeoisie and to release destructive energies in search of peace and beauty. One four-hour performance known as Sacramental Melodrama was staged in May 24 1965 at the Paris Festival of Free Expression.
Jodorowsky dissolved the Panic Movement in 1973, after the release of Arrabal’s book Le panique.