Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection (Arrow, 2020)

4 out of 5

4K restorations of Fando y Lis, El Topo, and The Holy Mountain, as well as the first release of Psychomagic. The Arrow editions of the restorations include some new interviews / shorts; these are not necessities – a lot of the thoughts and info are contained within the commentaries, or in other, archival interviews – but they’re not uninteresting by any means: Jodorowsky is a fascinating figure, and it’s worthwhile to hear how his explanations of things can either be word-for-word over the years, or shift slightly to encompass other concepts. El Topo and Holy Mountain also include their soundtracks, as previous releases did. One of the best new extras are the intros to the three films from film scholar Richard Peña – normally intros are throwaway things, like, cutesy cameos, but Peña goes in to about ten minutes of detail on each film, and his manner of speaking is engaging, and his thoughts very intriguing. I could’ve listened to the guy for longer.

There’s a poster in the boxset, another “nice but not necessary” inclusion (to me, at least), and a thick booklet with essays on all four films and some archival stuff; the essays are a mixed bag of jibber-jabber: some of it is just people tossing out opinions as facts, some of it retreads ideas you might’ve read elsewhere, but some of it is written in a nice, even-handed style that works like a conversation on the features. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on how much Jodo stuff you’ve elsewhere consumed, and / or if you agree with the stated opinions and whatnot, but whatever the case – Arrow’s presentation is undeniably professional, and the book is not just an afterthought.

As to the rating: the box is… a weird set. Fando y Lis is important, but Santa Sangre is a better trilogy match with Topo and Mountain, and Psychomagic would be a better fit with Endless Poetry + Dance of Reality. I can understand if rights don’t allow Arrow to rerelease these other movies, but the weird matchup exists nonetheless, and so it more feels like a collection of convenience (“here are all of the Jodo films we own”) than a logical one. As someone who didn’t own any of the flicks, yeah, I’m happy to pick them up together, I just wish it felt more cohesive. And then the box itself – it’s sturdy as heck, but, at least on my copy, it’s way too tight. Slipping one movie in and out of the box is a struggle.

Relatively minor gripes overall. The quality of the sound and video and the holistic run of extras makes the flicks themselves top notch.