Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s ‘Melodrama Sacramentral’ was a happening presented by his group, The Panic Movement at the Paris Festival of Free Expression in 1965. Inspired and named after the God Pan and influenced by Luis Buñuel and Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, the group concentrated on chaotic and surreal performance art, as a response to surrealism becoming mainstream. And this performance set their stall out.
This film is a 15 minute edit of the four hour absurdist performance that is, quite frankly, impossible to articulate. You just have to watch it. Melodrama Sacramentral combined religious themes and violence and is both funny, disturbing, provocative, ridiculous, a work of it’s time, a surreal mind bender that has everything from naked performers convulsing to free jazz drum solos, a leather clad Jodorowsky slitting the throats of geese, taping two snakes to his chest and having himself stripped and whipped, there are naked women covered in honey, a crucified chicken, the staged murder of a rabbi, a giant vagina as well as the throwing of live turtles into the audience.
Like the Situationists in France Jodorowsky and his collaborators, Fernando Arrabal and Roland Topor, had by the early 60s, come to the conclusion that it was time to go beyond words, beyond talk. It was time for something more visceral, time to destroy the spectacle and wake people up to the reality of suffering and inequality in a world gone mad (in the same month of this performance the largest Vietnam teach-in was held at Berkeley, one of the seminal events in the history of the American anti – war movement and the beginning of a protest movement that would explode in 1968).
After this happening Jodorowsky went on to make the cult classic ‘El Topo’ – a psychedelic spaghetti western meets eastern spiritualism – in 1970 and The Holy Mountain in 1973. He dissolved the Panic Movement in 1973, after the release of Arrabal’s book Le panique.
Here’s an inkling of what he was about:
The apocalypse is now! Americans know this, that the only hope is the flying saucers. Do you know how I see the world? Like a person who is dying. It’s a worm who is dying to make a butterfly. We must not stop the worm from dying, we must help the worm to die to help the butterfly to be born. We need to dance with death. This world is dying, but very well. We will make a big, big enormous butterfly. You and I will be the first movements in the wings of the butterfly because we are speaking like this.
The soundtrack on the film clip is Allen Ginsberg reading from his poem ‘Lysergic Acid,’ written in San Francisco in 1959.
Via Dangerous Minds
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