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The career of the Chilean artist, surrealist and film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky began here, in 1968, with this debut movie, an example of underground cinema at its gamiest, now on rerelease. Shot in Mexico, Fando y Lis is based on a stage play by Jodorowsky’s contemporary and performance collaborator, Fernando Arrabal. It is pervy, kinky and freaky with much nudity, mostly female, and that particular kind of open-air, let’s-put-on-the-show-right-here-and-freak-out-the-squares feel – not dissimilar to the early works of Forman or Polanski.
It’s a movie that should really be watched in a basement through a cloud of weed smoke, in the company of hippies who, in the immortal words of Alexei Sayle, are in the habit of weaving their own hemp-substitute bags out of dried snot. And there’s some fairly tricky material about child rape that is very much of its time.
This has fundamentally the same “quest” narrative that shaped Jodorowsky’s following two films, El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Fando and Lis are a mysterious young couple who are journeying across a strange desert landscape on a mission to find the mythical land of Tar, where all the mysteries of existence shall be opened to them. Lis is disabled and has to be carried or carted around everywhere, and this is – possibly – due to a traumatic experience she had as a child when a crowd of men forced themselves on her. The cracking of eggs is offered as a symbol for this violent event.
Episode of oddity follows episode of oddity, featuring a scene in that locale much loved of late-60s cinema: the junkyard full of wrecked cars. There are longueurs and moments of bizarre humour and pranksterism, such as making a blindfolded guy caress a naked girl while snogging a bearded bloke, thinking it’s the woman. Like a lot of 60s happenings, you had to be there.
• Fando y Lis is rereleased in the UK on 7 February.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Fando y Lis review – Jodorowsky’s freaks-and-flesh debut | Science fiction and fantasy films