Fando Y Lis (1968) – Film Review

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Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Cast: Sergio Klainer, Diana Mariscal, Maria Teresa Rivas
Certificate: 15

By Roger Crow

When Jonathan Ross made the superb series The Incredibly Strange Film Show in the late 1980s, his documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky proved to be an eye-opener. At that time the multi-skilled director’s debut feature Fando Y Lis was lost, so the fact we can watch it at all now is remarkable.

I’ve been a fan of Jodorowsky since that era when Santa Sangre blew my mind, and was stunned when the BBC finally showed his cult Western El Topo circa 1997. (Among others, that film later inspired John Lennon and scores of movies, including animated smash Rango).

If you’ve seen his comic The Incal, the fact the lead character bears so much resemblance to the male protagonist in this black and white surreal epic is just one of the visual treats in store.

The film Jodorowsky didn’t make is just as important – Dune. While that project collapsed, his small army of creatives, including Dan O’Bannon, HR Giger and Chris Foss, went on to collaborate on Alien, for which this fan is truly grateful. (I’ll be fascinated to see if any of his original imagery makes it into the second big screen version of Dune later this year).

fando y lis film review jodorowsky

“Fascinating curio”

Alejandro’s work is not for all tastes. This offering may be seen as pretentious and hugely self indulgent, but the sight of a burning piano and the disabled heroine being wheeled about on a cart with an old gramophone and a drum is fascinating.

It centres on Fando (Sergio Klainer) and his paraplegic girlfriend Lis (Diana Mariscal) as they travel through a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of the mythical city of Tar.

The story behind the film is as intriguing as the movie itself. A riot broke out in Acapulco after its premiere; it was banned in Mexico until 1972, and over here it was eventually released in 1971, where it was re-named ‘Tar Babies’.

There is a charm to the movie which was missing from some of his later works, and it’s a compelling watch for one fan who wishes Jodorowsky would make more motion pictures.

If you love visionary, occasionally bonkers film-making, like Federico Fellini or Terry Gilliam, then for all its faults, this is a fascinating curio from one of cinema’s most unique forces.

Fando Y Lis is currently showing on the Arrow Video Channel

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