Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky ( ho-dor-OF-ski; Spanish:[xoðoˈɾofski]; born 17 February 1929) is a Chilean-French avant-garde filmmaker. Best known for his 1970s films El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky has been "venerated by cult cinema enthusiasts" for his work which "is filled with violently surreal images and a hybrid blend of mysticism and religious provocation".
Born to Jewish-Ukrainian parents in Chile, Jodorowsky experienced an unhappy and alienated childhood, and so immersed himself in reading and writing poetry. Dropping out of college, he became involved in theater and in particular mime, working as a clown before founding his own theater troupe, the Teatro Mimico, in 1947. Moving to Paris in the early 1950s, Jodorowsky studied traditional mime under Étienne Decroux, and put his miming skills to use in the silent film Les têtes interverties (1957), directed with Saul Gilbert and Ruth Michelly. From 1960 onwards he divided his time between Mexico City and Paris, where he co-founded Panic Movement, a surrealist performance art collective that staged violent and shocking theatrical events. In 1966 he created his first comic strip, Anibal 5, and in 1967 he directed his first feature film, the surrealist Fando y Lis, which caused a huge scandal in Mexico, eventually being banned.
His next film, the acid western El Topo (1970), became a hit on the midnight movie circuit in the United States, considered the first-ever midnight cult film, and garnered high praise from John Lennon, who convinced former Beatles manager Allen Klein to provide Jodorowsky with $1 million to finance his next film. The result was The Holy Mountain (1973), a surrealist exploration of western esotericism. Disagreements with Klein, however, led to both The Holy Mountain and El Topo failing to gain widespread distribution, although both became classics on the underground film circuit. After a cancelled attempt at filming Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel Dune, Jodorowsky produced five more films: the family film Tusk (1980); the surrealist horror Santa Sangre (1989); the failed blockbuster The Rainbow Thief (1990); and the first two films in a planned five-film autobiographical series The Dance of Reality (2013) and Endless Poetry (2016).
Jodorowsky is also a comic book writer, most notably penning the science fiction series The Incal throughout the 1980s, which has been described as having a claim to be "the best comic book" ever written. Other comic books he has written include The Technopriests and Metabarons. Jodorowsky has also extensively written and lectured about his own spiritual system, which he calls "psychomagic" and "psychoshamanism", which borrows from alchemy, the tarot, Zen Buddhism and shamanism. His son Cristóbal has followed his teachings on psychoshamanism; this work is captured in the feature documentary Quantum Men, directed by Carlos Serrano Azcona.