Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky created an alternate, psycho-spiritual version of the American Western when he wrote and directed his landmark film El Topo
. Jodorowsky himself starred as "El Topo," a gunslinger who abandons his young son in a monastery and then hunts down and duels four masters in the Mexican desert. But with each master gunned down, El Topo is, in fact, moving further away from the truth he seeks. Rife with fantastic imagery, strange happenings and arcane symbolism, El Topo
is the brown acid of cinema. Jodorowsky said of the finished film, "If you are great, El Topo
is a great picture. If you are limited, El Topo
is limited." Yes, that's a fairly arrogant critique of his own work, but Jodorowsky also famously noted that "what I ask of film is what North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs." Long trapped in a legal limbo about distribution rights, El Topo
is unleashed again on an psychically unprepared and spiritually hungry America. The Webster Film Series screens a restored 35 mm print at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (June 8 through 10) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries
). Tickets are $5 to $6, which is affordable indeed for so potent a trip.