Nov 10, 2008

Fando y Lis

Longtime friend of Jodorowsky's, Fernando Arrabal, once wrote a play entitled Fando y Lis. Jodorowsky felt strongly towards the idea of adapting the play into his first feature length film using his memories of the performance and a one page script. The result is his greatest film in substance with meaningful and harrowing imagery with a score drowning in mystique. While being of the surreal genre, the film has a sideshow mystique emanating from it which in turn creates a sprawling epic of abuse and passion.

I use the word epic freely. Not a traditional epic but a vast odyssey of the masks of comedy and tragedy, both. If you want the feel of theater perfectly captured, Fando y Lis would be your luckiest endeavor. Fando and Lis are an unconventional coupling of handicaps. Fando has a statuesque face made for the silver screen (Similar to icon James Dean) and Lis is as gentle and kind as a china doll and also paraplegic. Due to this, she becomes a burden on the passive Fando. Maladolescenza brought this film to mind. Both characters seem saintly, but Fando is constantly spiraling downwards to an inevitable ending which is already written in the threads of fate.

Their personal journey towards the "lost city of Tar" brings to mind many questions - of course, relating to society. The very figment of a society is nowhere to be found. Barroom singers and musicians play their beloved melody to a cultured world devastated by debris and rubble, sanctioned by miserable mud men and populated with slutty elderly folks. Jodorowsky's world is a world I could populate as well. But many can clash with this perspective. During the premiere and screening, riots continuously broke out leaving Jodorowsky escaping into a limo. One might wonder how a first time full-lengther would escape into a limo, but this even adds to the delirious cosmic force of Jodorowsky. Surely a mystic man has reached a personal limit of enlightenment.

I've encountered situations similar to the journey towards Tar. As a child, I've found myself wandering aimlessly around the forest with friends, not knowing where I was heading but slowly careening towards my destination anyways. With as much ferocity presented in its simple black & white picturesque, I too felt a greater need of purpose. Such simple antiquities has Jodorowsky captured with his camera's lens. As cunning as the director may be, he has fallen under a spell of bad publicity due to this film. The star of Fando, Sergio Kleiner, claims that Jodorowsky was indeed of vampiric descent as he craved real blood for a scene.

Every portion of this 3 hour surrealist spectacle is needed to fully flesh out the torments, characters, and the faceless journey. Fando y Lis is his most linear film to date, save for The Rainbow Thief. While being extremely engaging regardless of what is going on, the possessive need for analytics is still there. A somber, mellow mood steadily creeps towards a more aggressive standpoint until the sorrowful finale.

Many spite Jodorowsky due to his lack of a cohesive storyline. Many cannot sit without squirming thanks to abundant visual eccentricities. What James Joyce did with wordsmithing, Jodorowsky does with moving pictures. In a sense, Jodorowsky is the original visual auteur. No one did it as fast and as furious as him. Even to this date, Fando y Lis & The Holy Mountain still best the likes of Un Chien Andalou and such Maya Deren films.

A romantic story never phases me. Sought out love in celluloid is a thing of the past. Now, with a suggestive plot like that, you're treated to Vince Vaughn being a retarded piece of shit for an hour and a half as a slutty A-list celebrity imposes the idea that failures such as him get laid. Too personal for a screen presentation? Hardly. Ty E's recommendation of Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans proved to be a most intimate performance. During the dawn of a cinema eclipse, it will be films such as Fando y Lis that will brandish the crown of time. This my friends, is a work of intimate genius.



Bobby said...

This was my intro to the cinema of Jodorowsky. First timers have it tough. EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN are more accessible. FANDO & LIS is like a surrealist WIZARD OF OZ. Certainly nourishing for the mind and soul. Excellent review.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an interesting and well written review. Jodorowsky and Fando y Lis, in particular, definitely needs more attention. It was only 6 months ago that I discovered Jodorowsky. I haven't had such great film experience for over 10 years. Starting out with Santa Sangre, Fando y Lis was the last I watched. In a way, I'm glad I took them in that order. I was never disappointed with any of his films. (I've heard Holy Mountain fans are often disappointed by Santa Sangre)Jodorowsky is a genius!

Anonymous said...

Great review, this film is underrated, for sure belongs to the Fellini, Bunuel territory.

By the way i discovered Jodorowsky at the age of seven in 1978.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

the chick who played lis was gorgeous i would have loved to have buggered her back in `68, i bet jodorowsky buggered her while they were making the film, the lucky bastard.