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SANFIC 12 Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Poesía sin fin’

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The writer, actor, novelist, Twitter influencer, screenwriter, regisseur, tarot reader, poet, healer and film director Alejandro Jodorowsky is certainly a strange sort of artist to follow around. After more than two decades of directorial inactivity, he returned with the 2013 Cannes premiere of La danza de la realidad (The Dance of Reality), which chronicles his infancy in Tarapacá, Chile. And now comes the sequel based on Jodorowsky’s youth in Santiago de Chile — a cinematic adaptation of his own book, a fictionalization of his own life since he was a kid.

Mostly focused on the act of writing poetry, Poesía sin fin (Endless Poetry) starts in magical fashion, traveling back to the neighborhood where Alejandro once lived — but not through a precise and careful art direction, but through a magical act of make believe that asks the viewer to have complete faith. In front of what are now broken down and closed stores in the streets of Matucana, Jodorowsky produces life-sized and printed out pictures of what those stores and places looked like when he was living in that street. It’s a magical moment and the first of many jolts the director provides as he tries to make up for a lack of budget in the most imaginative of ways.

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Jodorowsky plays up the cathartic experiment by casting his own son to play his father (Brontis Jodorowsky) while having his other son (Adan Jodorowsky) play Alejandro himself when he was young and experimenting with poetry. Here, the emotional confrontations are less affecting than those earlier in the film, and it certainly doesn’t help that the political edge of the 2013 film (in its second half) is now completely erased and replaced with long scenes of famous Chilean poets like Nicanor Parra and Enrique Lihn. Poesía sin fin spends most of its two hour runtime featuring the crazy antics of Jodorowsky alongside a troupe of artists, experimenting and making big statements about what art, poetry and love actually mean.

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But here’s where my inevitable personal baggage chimes into my experience of watching the film. Poesía sin fin was filmed in Santiago de Chile, the capital city of my country, and my city of birth. The streets where Poesía sin fin was filmed, and the places that it shows (sometimes the director doesn’t bother to remove signs with different years), are close to my heart, and even in all my years of watching Chilean films, it’s a Jodorowsky film — a movie about someone who hasn’t lived here in over 50 years — that manages to convey places to me in a kind and loving light. Maybe it’s his own nostalgia or the naturalistic approach, but I haven’t felt someone film my city with that much love in a long time.

Poesía sin fin does come around as it approaches the end. The film mimics the ending of the first one, having the main character say goodbye to all of the experiences that he had (almost like vignettes, as if it were some sort of circus act where all the performers get into the spotlight to give  thanks to the audience) while experiencing a touching moment with his father. These final minutes of the film made me emotional — tears came to my eyes — and I must admit that I didn’t care about the doubts that I had: the performances, the way that Jodorowsky shows himself or whatever it is that people find bad in these two last films. He broke my heart, he exposed his bare soul and he gave me a lot to think about in regard to father-son relations.

Jaime Grijalba (@jaimegrijalba) is from Chile and has been writing about film, literature, videogames and culture for the past six years. He’s also preparing his first feature-length film, since he’s a filmmaker too (or wants to be at least).

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