Fando y Lis (Mexico, 1967):

The earliest surviving work by Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean fabulador whose cultish fanbase bridges Marcel Marceau and Marilyn Manson. In the pre-credits teaser, a fleshy blonde wolfs down a flower while reclining on a bed surrounded by plastic dolls. From then on, it's pothead vaudeville all the way -- Fando (Sergio Kleiner) wheeling his paralyzed girlfriend Lis (Diana Mariscal) in a squeaky cart across a mythical wasteland in search of the El Dorado of Tar, mimicking routines of death, castration, rape, matricide, gender-shuffling, et al. Adapted from an Arrabal play (via faulty memory and a one-page synopsis), the picture is already full-blown Jodorowsky: cheerful kleptomania (mainly refried Bu˝uel and Fellini, with some Cocteau and Russ Meyer tossed in), metaphysical gassing and slapstick brutality. Just listing the grotesqueries unveiled along the journey is exhausting -- the burning piano leads to the cackling hermit in bishop robes, which leads to the mud people, which leads to the old hags soul-kissing the pudgy musclehead, which leads to bowling ball-toting amazons, which leads to the blind dolt begging for a blood cocktail, and so on and on into the night. Very much a late '60s freakout, tricked out with car cemeteries and action painting in the nude, the movie is fake-profound but seldom dull: Jodorowsky keeps the eyelids from drooping through sheer cramming force. A tumultuous cause celebre at festivals, it paved the way for the director's rise from small-time poseur to big-time poseur with El Topo a few years later. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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