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Film: El Topo
El Topo is a Spanish-language acid Western written, directed by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky.

It combines the violence and gunplay traditionally associated with the Western with Jodorowsky's obsession with mysticism and The Occult. It's also intended to evoke a similar reaction to a psychedelic experience (Jodorowsky occasionally fed acid to his actors before filming) so that may explain some of the odder elements in the plot.

The movie is divided in three parts. During the first part, a Bad Ass gunslinger known as El Topo (who travels with his naked 7 year old son) murders a group of bandits in revenge for the massacre of an entire village. The bandits are strangely dressed, degenerate and led by a fat, balding Colonel.

In the process, he liberates a woman he calls Mara (who the bandit leader was using as a slave). El Topo falls in love with Mara and rides off with her, abandoning his son at the monastery the bandits had occupied.

In the second part, Mara convinces El Topo that before she can love him he will need to be the best gunfighter in the world. In order to do so, he needs to find and kill four Great Masters who live in the desert. With the aid of a semi-topless woman who speaks with a man's voice (see above re: LSD) El Topo tracks down the four Masters and kills them all by means of tricks. Once he has killed them all, the mysterious woman shoots him, seduces Mara, and leaves him to die.

The third part begins with El Topo awaking in an underground cavern filled with deformed people, who believe he is some kind of god. He discovers they're trapped in the cavern, and their deformities are the result of inbreeding. After sucking on a psychedelic beetle (see above re: the LSD, again) and undergoing a symbolic rebirth (ummm... never mind, you probably get it by now) El Topo volunteers to dig a tunnel out of the mountain and in the process falls in love with a dwarf girl and destroys America, or at least Capitalist Amerika.

Yup. Acid.


The film provides examples of:

  • Animal Stereotypes: Too many to count.
  • Badass: El Topo during the first half.
  • Badass Back
  • Badass Preacher
  • Bilingual Bonus: Desconocida means "Unknown".
    • El Topo means "The Mole".
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of the All-Seeing Eye in the third part. In one instance, the head priest loads a revolver with a blank round and claims that Divine intervention will protect the shooter; the priest's cynical assistant, El Topo's son, switches the blank for a live round. It doesn't end well.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: El Topo towards the ending of part two.
  • Disturbed Doves
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A woman cuts open a prickly pear, runs her finger several times through the incision she made, then licks it.
  • Eagleland: The town ruled by the Corrupt Church
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: The Four Master Gunfighters.
  • Gainax Ending: After finally freeing the trapped lepers from the mountain, the townspeople respond by massacring them. In a rage El Topo charges at them, and despite being hit with heavy gunfire he scares the townspeople away and in a dying act, immolates himself.
  • Gorn: Lordy, look no further then the opening of our hero stumbling on the slaughtered villagers.
  • Groin Attack: when El Topo castrates the Colonel!
  • The Gunslinger: El Topo and the four great gun masters.
  • Immune to Bullets: The first great gun master.
    • And El Topo by the end, as the bees on his grave would imply.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Have you tried to shoot a crow in the heart?
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. A child kills themselves with the gun being passed around the church, once El Topo's son has switched the blank round with a live one.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The priest's protege is El Topo's son.
  • Messianic Archetype: A whole Deconstruction.
  • Mind Screw: NOBODY can understand it.
  • Oh Crap: The second desert master's expression when he realizes he's been outwitted by El Topo. Though it's more of an exasperated version.
  • Platonic Cave: A very literal approach to this trope with the third part of the film.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Colonel: "Who are you, to judge me?!" El Topo: "I am GOD!" This is followed by the Colonel being castrated by our hero.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Desconocida
  • Sequel Hook: El Topo's wife does conceive a son, ironically there was a sequel planned but it's been stuck in development hell.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Four Masters
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
  • The Western
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Numerous times with El Topo. At least once with Jodorowski: The rape scene with Mara was not staged. Despite this, Jodorowski is still hailed by many as a creative genius.
    • Jodorowsky CLAIMS it wasn't, but then he's made some pretty outlandish and fantastical claims about his films and his life in general.
  • World of Symbolism
  • Yum Yum: A girl offers sex to another girl by licking a fruit.


El DoradoIndex of Film WesternsEvil Roy Slade
Top HatRoger Ebert Great Movies ListTouch of Evil
Top HatDanny Peary Cult Movies ListTwo Lane Blacktop
Start the Revolution Without MeFilms of the 1970sTora! Tora! Tora!

alternative title(s): El Topo
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