El Topo (1970)
Not the Feel Good Movie of the year...
5 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
El Topo (1970) Rough, hard and dirty, this might describe many things, but it perfectly describes "El Topo". Shot in the deserts of Mexico, "El Topo" is a hard film containing graphic violence, sex and weirdness that is still shocking to this day. The film opens with a naked boy burring his favorite toy and a picture of his mother and is told today he becomes a man, an almost prelude to the adult material to follow. Shortly after the opening scene a single dead horse is shown, the audience feels a little sad, but the shot after shows an entire town butchered and fresh blood everywhere. The audience knows this is not going to be a feel good movie.

"El Topo" is a movie that fits into several different genres at the same time, it looks and begins like a western, but quickly changes to a quest to rid the 4 gun masters in the desert is eerie similar to a kung fu movie, then the film takes another turn and turns into a drama and a bit lighter after The Mole falls in love with the midget woman. There are acts of comedy that reflect back to the early silent era.

Film genres isn't the only way "El Topo" reflects pop culture, the film also makes several references to religious symbols and stories and events from around the world. The most eye catching is the reference to Thích Quảng Đức, a Buddhist monk who burnt himself alive in an interestion in Vietnam in 1963, who also burnt up without saying anything or moving a muscle.

The masters in the desert all have symbols and they down grade throughout the journey, the first master had a tower and a huge oasis, the second master had a wagon and a river, the third master had a little cover and a water hole, the fourth had a pole, a blanket and a sheet. The weapons also downgraded as well, the first had two guns, the second had one that could shoot several bullets, the third had one gun that could only fire one gun before reloading, the fourth only had a butterfly net. The masters of the desert were all tricked into being killed, the first one fell and was shot, he used to live high in a tower, the second master was tricked when the Mole sprinkled glass on the ground and hurt the second master's mother. The third was tricked by using body armor ashtray. The fourth master killed himself and stopped the Mole from winning the battle. One other interesting piece of symbolism of the masters is the second and third master, the second master is wearing sheep and owns a lion and the third master has a rabbit farm. The rabbit, the lamb and the lion all play huge roles in Christianity.

The Mole is a strong symbol, he wears black and wherever he goes, death follows. When the Mole fights the third master all but three rabbits are dead because of the presence of the Mole. When the Mole is betrayed by his two women companions, for not paying enough attention to them, the women kill him. After being in a coma for years the Mole goes through a transformation change and shaves all of his hair and appears to look like a new born baby and takes on another task, to help the deformed people escape their hole. Unlike the his previous quest, his quest to free the deformed people is not for revenge but thanks for taking care of him. After working with one of the midget women, the Mole falls in love with her and soon she becomes pragent. After awhile the Mole, the dwarf woman and the Mole's first son finally finish the tunnel and release the other deformed people. When the deformed people are killed, the Mole reverts back to his original ways and kills the entire town.

With blood and violence, love and sexuality littered everywhere with a huge amount of historical and religious references, "El Topo" feels extremely rough, but at the same time can not be looked away from.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

Recently Viewed