Santa Sangre is a movie that I first saw when I was in my early twenties and over fifteen years it has never lost its place as one of my favourite movies of all time and something so astonishing from start to finish that I constantly recommend it to people after something unique and unforgettable. It’s an amazing cinematic experience. The movie being given a cinematic re-release on 21st September here in the UK is an opportunity not to be missed before the movie is released in November on a Bluray that I can only hope does a great job of displaing the film and also offering up a decent selection of extras (I used to own, and cherish, the Anchor Bay DVD release that featured a commentary track and som other goodies on there).
I guess I should describe the plot, first of all. The movie opens and viewers are shown Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky), a patient in what appears to be a mental hospital. It’s then time to move into the past, where we see a young Fenix (Adan Jodorowsky) playing his part in a circus group. He is a talented and dexterous young man and he quickly falls for the beautiful, deaf and mute Alma (Faviola Elenka Tapia). Meanwhile, his mother (Concha, played by Blanca Guerra) is protesting to stop her church from being demolished. The fact that the church worships a young girl who was abused and had her arms ripped off doesn’t make it one looked favourably upon by any figures of authority in the world of organised religion. Once the protest has come to an end, Concha heads back to the circus and is angered to see her husband cavorting with a lithe, tattooed lady. Passions rise and things eventually come to a terrible conclusion some time later. It’s then time to go back to the adult Fenix and see exactly what the future holds for him. Well, things are about to get even stranger. To say any more would spoil the few twists and turns that the film takes so I’ll stop right there.
Anyone who is familiar with Santa Sangre may have just read the above passage and sighed loudly at my reticence to explain plot points. Because Santa Sangre isn’t about plot points. It’s about colour and energy and a unique vision and astonishing moments of cinema. However, there IS a decent plot amongst all of the madness and horror and fun of it all and I’m jealous of anyone who gets to approach the movie with absolutely no idea of just what’s in store for them.
It may be quite a family affair, the two versions of Fenix are played by the sons of the director, but there’s something in almost every frame of this movie that assures audiences that no compromise has been made and people can either immerse themselves in the whole experience – the design, the motifs, the surreal moments, the heightened sense of reality making every sensation that bit more vibrant – or they can just get the hell out. This isn’t just an excuse to get the family together and make a movie. This movie belongs to the director. There may have been a couple of other people required to develop and hone the screenplay but the names of Robert Leoni and Claudio Argento fall by the wayside, with no disrespect intended to them, as Alejandro Jodorowsky takes the material and cements his reputation as an amazing cinematic talent with the force of his unique vision.
You may not realise it yet but Alejandro Jodorowsky is a man who has left a rich legacy to audiences with his astonishing movies. I hope that he has more to offer us but even if he does nothing else he will always have my admiration and respect for the twisted beauty of Santa Sangre.
As mentioned in the very first paragraph, Santa Sangre is receiving a cinematic re-release on 21st September and I highly recommend trying to catch it on the big screen.
DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
WRITER: ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY, ROBERTO LEONI, CLAUDIO ARGENTO
STARS: AXEL JODOROWSKY, BLANCA GUERRA, SABRINA DENNISON, THELMA TIXOU, ADAN JODOROWSKY, FAVIOLA ELENKA TAPIA, JESUS JUAREZ
RUNTIME: 120 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: MEXICO, ITALY