Chilean master cult filmmaker, and father of the “midnight movie,” Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest film Psychomagic, A Healing Art will premiere in the U.S. and Canada on August 7 through an exclusive arrangement with Alamo Drafthouse‘s new VOD platform, Alamo On Demand.
Jodorowsky made two surreal classics in films of the 1970s, the spiritual western epic El Topo (1970), and The Holy Mountain (1973), which was partly funded by John Lennon. The Holy Mountain sparked controversy at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival due to its sacrilegious imagery. It also established Jodorowsky as an auteur of Surrealist Cinema. The documentary-form avant-garde movie Psychomagic, A Healing Art is being presented by ABKCO Films. The ex-Beatle introduced Jodorowsky’s work to his then-manager Allen Klein, whose ABKCO Music & Records houses catalogues from Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, Bobby Womack, The Kinks, and Marianne Faithfull. Klein had an interest in film, and would go on to produce Blindman, which starred Ringo Starr. Lennon and Yoko Ono saw El Tropo and urged Klein to buy the rights. The “psychedelic western” played midnights at the Elgin Theater in New York for years.
Jodorowsky is also known as the filmmaker behind one of the greatest films never made, his mid-70s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune. He cast surrealistic art legend Salvador Dalí as the Emperor. On a surrealistic whim, Dalí said he wanted to be the highest-paid actor in Hollywood history and asked for $100,000 an hour. Jodorowsky accepted the record-making request, but only worked with Dalí for an hour. The director’s cut had a 10-12 hour running time and Hollywood did not want it to run over two hours. That didn’t mean it wasn’t influential. Jodorowsky’s script, notes, storyboards, and concept art all made it to major film studios and touched the works of Star Wars, Flash Gordon, the Terminator series, and The Fifth Element. The film’s entire production team, which Jodorowsky put together, collaborated on the 1979 film Alien.
Psychomagic, A Healing Art is “an intimate exploration” of Jodorowsky’s theory of trauma therapy. The filmmaker uses performance art “as a vehicle to counter deep, debilitating psychic suffering with literal ‘acts of confrontation’ in real world applications,” according to the press statement. Jodorowsky works directly with people in pain and applies his life-long study of philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and world religions, “from Freud to Shamans, from Kabbalah to Gurdjieff and everything in between, who are eager to face, resolve and transcend their personal dilemmas through the use of radical performative art therapy.”
Psychomagic, A Healing Art illuminates Jodorowsky’s vision with themes he has explored since he began making pictures move. The film contemporaneously breaks the wall between reality and performance. The healing concepts the filmmaker uses are personal, but universal. “The world is ill, we need to make therapy pictures,” Jodorowsky said in the press statement. “If art is not a medicine for society, it’s a poison.”
Preceding the premiere, there will be a retrospective beginning Aug. 1, also exclusively at Alamo On Demand. The retrospective will feature 4K restorations of the Jodorowski’s cult classics Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, as well as the more recent The Dance Of Reality and Endless Poetry. A virtual master class in Psychomagic with Jodorowsky is planned for August 8.
The home edition of Psychomagic, A Healing Art will be available as part of ABKCO Films’ Alejandro Jodorowsky: 4K Restoration Collection, which will be available on Aug. 21. This deluxe box set also includes Fando y Lis, Jodorowsky’s first feature. The film, which is a “brutal and scathing examination of destructive co-dependence between two lovers conflicted by anguish and the demands they put on one another,” caused a riot when it premiered in Acapulco, Mexico in 1967. The Holy Mountain, which is also on the box set, was banned in Mexico. The Holy Mountain follows “an elite group of thieves who embark on a spiritual journey to displace the immortal Gods who secretly rule the universe.”
At the age of 91, Jodorowsky continues to be a relevant artist. He recently supervised the color correction of the 4K restorations of his essential films using the original 35mm elements. El Topo will be available for the first time in 1.85:1 widescreen in the 4K Restoration Collection. It also contains the 1957 short film Le Cravate, a mime adaptation of a Thomas Mann story about a Parisian urchin who makes her living selling human heads.
The box set features a book with photos and essays as well as newly filmed interviews with Jodorowsky and his long time personal assistant Pablo Leder.
Psychomagic, A Healing Art will premiere on August 7 on Alamo On Demand.