A Thief reduced to a Messiah, searching for a god that cannot be found, subsumed by paper Mache idolatry where crucifixion is sold for mass consumption. Alejandro Jodorowsky forgoes formal narrative construction and instead takes the audience on an internal travelogue of self-discovery where the summit of enlightenment is beyond the fourth wall.
Each character of Jodorowsky's parable represent an element of the tarot or some astrological design, avatars for human nature and misunderstanding. The Alchemist turns shit into gold and melts away the waxy veneer of physical desire to reveal the beast within the breast. Jodorowsky is particularly damning of Catholicism, the business of religion where profit measures faith with silver and gold, and blind followers follow blindly. The Alchemist is only the doorway to understanding, the teacher who must elevate his students to a higher spiritual status, not a egocentric universe surrounded by the ellipse of godhood. Here is one of the important truths Jodorowsky wished to impart: that a teacher (spiritual leader, priest, rabbi, etc...) is a tool to understanding and not understanding in and of itself. His film is about this symbiotic relationship in the search for self-enlightenment. Otherwise, the Popes or Jim Jones' of the material world rule with bloody scepter and serve ice cold Kool Aid to their flock.
The film is ripe with plush images infused with satire and fury, from a Weapons Manufacturer with a creative genius for murder (a crucifix handgun for the hip Priest) to the Toy Maker who educates children with violent fantasies in order to spawn playthings for impotent leaders. Or the Thief who chases the Pharisees from the temple while smashing his mass-produced simulacra to exploding frogs. A rainbow of wonderful compositions leads the traveler to the pot at the end of the mescaline journey. Jodorowsky surprises by utilizing the very thing he condemns to impart his message, and allows the audience to join in this spiritual conspiracy.
Final Grade: (B)