Alejandro Jodorowsky Biography

Alejandro Jodorowsky
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Quick Facts

Birthday: February 17, 1929

Nationality: Chilean, French

Age: 92 Years, 92 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Also Known As: Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky, Alexandro, Jodo

Born Country: Chile

Born in: Tocopilla, Chile

Famous as: Director

Directors Chilean Men

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Bernadette Landru, Pascale Montandon, Valerie Jodorowsky

father: Jaime Jodorowsky Groismann

mother: Sara Felicidad

siblings: Raquel Jodorowsky

children: Adan Jodorowsky, Axel Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Eugenia Jodorowsky, Teo Jodorowsky

More Facts

education: University of Chile

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Alejandro Jodorowsky is a Chilean-French filmmaker who is known for writing, producing, directing and starring in the surrealistic films El Topo and The Holy Mountain, both of which became classics on the underground film circuit. El Topo began the midnight movie phenomenon in the US and made him counter-cultural icon in the 1970s. Earlier, Alejandro Jodorowsky began his career in theatre with an interest in mime and puppetry and established his own theatre troupe. He then formed the anarchistic avant-garde Panic Movement (named after the Greek god Pan) of performance artists and created his first comic strip and directed his first feature film (which was banned in Mexico). Later, he involved himself in writing science fiction comic books, The Incal series. The series, its spinoffs and other comic books made him an acclaimed comic book author. He also developed and began giving lectures on his own form of personal therapy that he called psychomagic. He wrote numerous books and made a documentary film about it too. His other film works include Tusk, Santa Sangre, The Rainbow Thief, The Dance of Reality and Endless Poetry.

Childhood & Early Life

Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky was born on 17 February, 1929 in Tocopilla, Chile. His parents – Jaime Jodorowsky Groismann and Sara Felicidad Prullansky Arcav – were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine.

His childhood was an unhappy one and he disliked his family. When he was all of nine years, his family shifted to Santiago, Chile.

As a youngster, he developed an interest in reading and started writing poetry. At the age of sixteen, his poetry was published for the first time.

Fascinated by the political ideology of anarchism, he enrolled himself in the University of Chile in 1947 and studied psychology and philosophy for a couple of years before dropping out.

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Career

After leaving college, he worked variously as a circus clown, stage actor and theatre director with a particular interest in marionettes and mime.

He founded his own experimental theatre group – Teatro Mimico – in 1947 which in few years had around 50 actors. The first play he wrote was El Minotaura (The Minotaur).

In 1953, he left Chile and moved to Paris where he studied mime with French film and theatre actor Etienne Decroux and then became a part of mime artist Marcel Marceau’s (pupil of Decroux) troupe.

His association with the troupe saw him writing numerous mime pieces (such as The Cage and The Mask Maker) and also setting out on a world tour with them.

Upon his return, he directed numerous stage plays including the comeback stage revue of French artist Maurice Chevalier.

In the year 1957, he directed and also starred in his first film, a short called La Cravate (Les têtes interverties or The Severed Heads). The film primarily consisted of mime.

He shifted to Mexico in 1960, but continued to return to France from time to time. On one such trip, he formed an alliance with Spanish-French author Fernando Arrabal and French artist/author/animator Roland Topor and founded the Panic Movement (named after the Greek god Pan) in 1962.

The movement aspired to surpass the conventional surrealist ideas by focusing more on absurdism and shocking.

One of his prominent works during this time was a four-hour-long performance Mélodrame sacrementel at the Second Paris Festival of Free Expression in 1965.

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In 1966, he created his first comic book, Anibal 5 and a year later began writing and drawing weekly comic strip called Fabulas Pánicas (Panic Fables, 1967–73) for a Mexican newspaper, El Heraldo de México.

His first feature film, Fando y Lis (Fando and Lis), based on a play by Fernando Arrabal, premiered in 1968 and was banned in Mexico due to its controversial content.

Alejandro Jodorowsky directed and starred in his second film El Topo which came out in 1970; however, owing to the riot caused because of his previous film, he did not release it in Mexico.

Instead, the movie played as a midnight movie in New York city. The film succeeded but had the critics divided. While critics in the alternative press called it a masterpiece, the more mainstream critics absolutely disliked it calling it a repulsive freak show.

The film caught the attention of John Lennon, rock musician and a countercultural figure, who then convinced businessman Allen Klein to purchase the distribution rights of the film in the US.

Klein also backed Jodorowsky’s next movie, The Holy Mountain, which came out in 1973 but failed to succeed like his previous film. Jodorowsky worked as its leading man, composer, screenwriter, producer and director.

He, next, opted to make a movie based on Frank Herbert's epic 1965 science fiction novel Dune. The movie never got made due to financial issues, but as per some film historians, its preproduction designs, greatly influenced the future science fiction movies like Star Wars, Alien, Terminator and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

His next film was a children’s film Tusk. It released in 1980 and received poor reviews. Jodorowsky himself disowned it later.

The Dune also brought him in touch with French comic book artist Moebius and the two paired up to work on the graphic novel series The Incal. The series (1980-2014) was set in a sprawling sci-fi fictional universe – Jodoverse – and incorporated a number of designs and concepts from the shelved Dune project.

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It became a hugely successful comic project and is considered, by many, as one of the most complete, sophisticated and greatest graphic novels of all time.

The success of the comic book series led to spinoff comic books Metabarons (1992–2018), The Technopriests (1998–2006) and Mégalex (1999–2008).

In collaboration with other European artists, he wrote more top selling comic books like Son of the Gun (1995), Bouncer (2000) and The White Lama (2004).

In the 1980s, Alejandro Jodorowsky started to develop and lecture on psychomagic, a form of personal healing therapy that incorporated insights from Jungian psychology and the tarot.

He elaborated more on the therapeutic methods in his books Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy (2010). He also wrote, directed and appeared in a French documentary Psychomagic, A Healing Art which came out in 2019.

The year 1989 saw the release of his surrealistic slasher film Santa Sangre (Holy Blood) which received mixed critical reviews. The following year Alexander Salkind’s The Rainbow Thief came out in which Jodorowsky was a director-for-hire.

From 2009, he worked on an artistic project – pascALEjandro – along with his wife Pascale Montandon. The project had him making ink drawings while his wife filled in bright watercolour tints. An art book of the work, with the same name, was released in 2017.

The year 2013 saw the release of his autobiographical film – The Dance of Reality – based upon his 2001 book of the same name. He produced, directed and also starred in it.

The same year, Frank Pavich directed documentary film – Jodorowsky’s Dune – about Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to make Dune came out. Both films premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Endless Poetry, the sequel to his autobiographical film premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and received positive reviews.

Family & Personal Life

Alejandro Jodorowsky was earlier married to actress Valerie Jodorowsky. They divorced in 1982. He later married Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky who is an artist and costume designer.

He had five children – Brontis, Teo, Cristobal, Eugenia and Adan. His son, Teo, died in an accident in 1995.

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