Jodorowsky Speaks: 10 Outrageous Quotes from the Avant-Garde Auteur's SXSW Talk

Alejando Jodorowsky, film directorIt’s been over 20 years since avant-garde, psychomagic auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky made a film. To the delight of cult followers everywhere, this year’s SXSW Film Festival featured his much buzzed-about return to cinema with the semi-autobiographical film The Dance of Reality. Just before the North American premiere, Jodorowsky sat down and talked with eccentric enthusiasm about anything from writing scripts to why he hates 3D. Below is a look at some of the most outrageously enjoyable moments of his conversation.

Jodorowsky is best known for surreal masterpieces like El Topo and The Holy Mountain that feature bizarre, delightful, and disturbing sequences that play with audiences. His first film since 1989, here is a look at The Dance of Reality:

An audience wondering what the maker of these unusual films could be like in person, would not be disappointed! Here are some refreshing highlights from the SXSW conversation moderated by HitFix's Drew McWeeny.

On his artistic sensibilities:

I don’t want to make movies for people who want to relax for two hours, eat popcorn, and then go into the streets. Why I did I want to make art?

On the meaning of art (following the death of his son):

Art is to heal. Our society is ill. Changing the world is an immensity that we can’t do, but as an artist we can do a little. This moment you can live. You know you can die, and then live. Art is not to escape yourself, but to remember yourself. I didn’t make movies about Karate, superheroes, vampires -- none of that shit.

On returning to his hometown to film The Dance of Reality:

Returning to town I suffered so much. For 10 years I was rejected, my father was Jewish Russian. I had no friends. They called me Pinocchio because of my nose. 100 years, the town hasn’t changed. My sons cried because, for the first time, they knew where I had come from.

On his distaste for 3D films:

I don’t want to rape any person with 3 dimension. I want to call the person to go inside another world to open the sensibilities. Come to my heart, beat together, and feel something. Maybe you will find yourself.

On manipulation of the audience:

I’m not Hitchcock. I won’t scare you here, have a cat jump out there. Everyone who sees my pictures will have a different reaction; one will scream, one will laugh. No one will have a right to define you and how you react.

On the genre of his films:

My pictures have no age. Because for me, one year is all the years, past, future, present. (You don’t know what El Topo is.) I have no nationality. “Chinese picture” , “French picture” , “American picture.” We are not a football team! I am product of the planet, or the galaxy. I haven’t thought of a flag for that.

On the realism in film offered by advances in technology:

Movies are not real. They are a painting, I don’t want someone to see it as reality. Pictures are pictures.

On the close-up trend of television:

Now we are ill of television. All you see is the face to represent a person. Next thing you know, we’ll just see the mouth!

On writing scripts:

I used to think pictures should be 12 -- 14 hours! I drove myself crazy writing scripts for 12 -- 14 hour movies. Now, I say, well -- okay, there is The Hobbit.

On famous actors, and why he doesn’t use them:

Why should I find a star? They are a lot of money and trouble. You are a poet. They don’t care about that. Then they have a contract…you have to sign a contract that says they have to have 10 close-ups! No, I’ll cast my family -- they are good actors.

Any Jodorowsky fans out there who are excited to see The Dance of Reality? As filmmakers, what do you think about Jodorowsky’s philosophy on film?

Link: A Conversation with Alejandro Jodorowsky -- SXSW 2014

You Might Also Like

Your Comment



March 14, 2014 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Great article! Looking forward to seeing this film. Jodorowsky always speaks with such poetry.

March 14, 2014 at 1:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


"Most directors make films with their eyes; I make films with my testicles."

March 14, 2014 at 1:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Micah Van Hove

And it shows.

March 15, 2014 at 12:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Jodorowsky was a huge inspiration of why I got into film. Watching his "pictures" as he says, was exactly that. I came from a photography background, and in his work, I saw images moving, motion pictures. Then of course, my appreciation for Kubrick concreted the dream.

AJ is a mind of humanity. His pieces will evoke something soulful, and something atmospheric, even if you don't see or know the plot. This was cool to read.

March 14, 2014 at 1:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


i guess we know where wes anderson derived his style...

March 14, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


My all time favorite director. Good to see him getting some exposure. He IS from another planet. His comics are really wild and imaginative too.

March 14, 2014 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


His process of what's known as Psychomagic has the incredible power to heal people and very quickly. It has nothing to do with "magic" but instead speaks the language of the subconscious to affect the subconscious directly. Very powerful stuff. The language of dreams is the essence of film making.

March 14, 2014 at 8:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Honestly, he sounds out of touch and a little egotistical.

March 15, 2014 at 9:11AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


He hates 3D as much as I hate pseudo-intellectuals like Jodorowsky

March 15, 2014 at 11:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


so what makes an intellectual not a pseudo-intellectual?

March 31, 2014 at 8:05PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I have to admit you have great scene in his film I like very much the first part of EL TOPO
until the mane character met the deformed people living in or near a Mountain.
I like film with unknown actors.
I own a dvd of El TOPO
When EL TOPO came out it's was one of the first movie how play in a midnight show.
I saw El Topo in theater and he probably shot The Dance Of Reality on film.

March 21, 2014 at 1:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Pierre Samuel Rioux

Groucho Marx once said, 'I'm not crazy about reality but it's the only place to get a good meal' (or similar).

I mention this because Groucho and Jodorowski would appear to share a similar sensibility but, perhaps, a different ability - Jodorowski's ability being to better resist committing (or succumbing) to the contrived (and essentially absurd) pantomime of politics and economics that passes for a reality... the ability to be prepared to go hungry. Groucho's ability was playing the role of court jester.

They're not alone in their sensibility or understanding of 'accepted reality' as a contrivance, I'm a 'fan' of both Jodorowski and Groucho and of other filmmakers and artists tangling with this kind of world view (not least because it's the kind of sensibility that draws me to filmmaking).

Something to consider about the films Jodorowski makes and perhaps also the philosophy driving his art. He has, to my mind, no interest in explaining or persuading reality, any kind of reality, to you or anyone. He is, to my mind, one of very few people (let alone artists or filmmakers), who is only and sincerely concerned with allowing you to find your own 'reality'.

When he talks about his artistic and filmmaking 'philosophy', he's saying (or I'm hearing) neither art nor film are meant to be your (illusion of) escape, they should just be the tools to help you dig your own way out.

But then, I am someone who sees 'accepted reality' (and especially the mechanics of the so called reality marketed by the so called 'first world') as contrivance, manipulation, as shackles binding an 'ill society' to the deluded and corrupt demands of an extreme minority's profit.

I'm also well aware that many (most?) people coming here (and in the wider world) see film as a business as much as a pleasure, who have as much of a deep and sincere appreciation of the craft and talent as Jodorowski (and me ;-)) and are quite happy with the 'accepted reality' he rejects thank you very much.

I readily recognise the amazing work being done across the range of films and genres.

I'm just expressing my appreciation of a filmmaker who carries a flame of mitigation and potential for change. I'm expressing my concern that, for as much as we're an amazing and amazingly creative species, we're mostly inadvertent walk-ons in somebody else's corrupt, absurd and brutal farce.

We're still only allowing (or only allowed) the tip of the iceberg of amazingness we could be. Which is a sentiment I see echoed in Jodorowski's past work.

I look forward to watching 'The Dance of Reality'. More than that, I look forward to the film, and his others, reaching a wide audience... even if that also means looking forward to a time when film and art are rendered redundant.

March 21, 2014 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I really don't see the Wes Anderson/Jodorowsky comparison.

March 24, 2014 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Russ D

Just saw "Jodorowsky's Dune"
Mind blown.

April 7, 2014 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Russ D

"I don’t want to rape any person with 3 dimension." This comment on 3D reminds me of the type of over-the-top reaction the auteurs had to sound. They said it's a distraction, it takes away from the true essence of the cinema as art, and so on. It was an occasionally aggressive opposition. I can't think of anybody who has made a valid argument against the "talking pictures" since they figured out how to properly mic actors, etc.

But then he says, "I want to call the person to go inside another world to open the sensibilities." And I wonder, isn't that precisely the implication of the "3D" experience, a deeper environment to create and for the audience to explore? Isn't it just an opportunity for a deeper physical and emotional dialogue?

I don't know, I'm just some eyes on the street.

March 13, 2015 at 9:05AM