"El Topo's" surrealism is more slapstick than Jodorwosky's brilliant follow-up, "Holy Mountain", making it more akin to a spaghetti western than a psychedelic journey through the subconscious. The director stars as the gunfighter, El Topo (The Mole), who first gives his 7-year old son (played by real life son, Brontis Jodorowsky) a glimpse of manhood in the form of weaponry, then abandons him for a horseback revenge trip focused on a heartless team of raping, pillaging bandits. Along the way, he meets Mara (Mara Lorenzio), whose tough love encourages him to become a monk. On El Topo's new quest, he encounters spiritual leaders and endures a series of personal realizations about his past violence. Absurd moments, such as when the viewer first encounters the bandits sniffing and drooling over high-heeled women's shoes out in the desert, make "El Topo" satirically wry. Brutal scenes in which rivers of blood run through towns, or people slaughter each other in firing lines, remind the viewer of Mexico's bloody history. The mixture of ironic humor and violence in "El Topo" encapsulates Jodorowky's vision of a world in which reality and the imagination are fused, yet completely separate. This paradox, of great thematic concern in all of Jodorowsky's films, is most resonant in "El Topo" when Mara and The Mole sadistically communicate with whips, guns, and knives. As "Holy Mountain's" religious message centers wholly around The Alchemist's transformation of Jesus, "El Topo" introduces love between man and woman into the symbolic mix, compensating for the divine settings and imaginative characters that elucidate the protagonist's enlightenment in the later "Holy Mountain". Only by viewing the two films as a double feature will one get the full power of Jodorowsky's Buddhist message, one of self-sacrifice and suffering towards a greater end. "--Trinie Dalton"