Dance of Reality (Blu-ray Review)

The Dance of RealityThe Dance of Reality, written, produced and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky is a mystical autobiography of Jodorowsky s childhood, blending his personal history with metaphor, mythology and poetry. The film reflects the director s view that reality is not objective but rather a dance created by our imaginations. After its world premiere at Cannes in 2013 and US premiere at SXSW in 2014, the film has received universal praise from all media outlets including the New York Times which hailed it as a near masterpiece and a NY Times Critics pick, the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, RogerEbert.com, Vulture, Film.com and indieWIRE. It opened in theaters on May 23rd as the #1 independent film in the country and is now Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 93%. Considered the father of the Midnight Movies, Jodorowsky is best known for his films, El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), which have since become cult classics. 

The Dance of Reality


It’s been a lifetime since the great Alejandro Jodorowsky directed a film – his last being Santa Sangrewhich came out way back in 1989. The Dance of Reality is his latest film and stars his son Brontis Jodorowsky and making his acting debut in a film is Jeremias Herskovits as the young Alejandro Jodorowsky. Did that confuse you somewhat? In this film, which is a surreal and metaphorical autobiographical tale of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s life, his son plays his father (Brontis’ grandfather), and Jeremias plays Alejandro. Pamela Flores plays young Alejandro’s mother and Alejandro plays the spirit version of himself that is there to guide young Alejandro through life. Yeah, it’s a little startling, but once you start watching the film it will make more sense context-wise.

Jaime Jodorowsky is a rough and tough jerk of a human being who idolizes Stalin and is a communist and rejects religion, spirituality, and weakness. He beats and mentally abuses Alejandro in order for Alejandro to become a strong man like him. His wife, Sara, is objectified and only used as a sex object and to tend to her duties as a wife while she herself has her own issues. She sees young Alejandro as the spiritual embodiment of her own father and refers to Alejandro as “my father” as opposed to “my son.” It’s very strange. What’s also strange is that Sara sings her all of her lines. Apparently Alejandro’s mother was a singer or at least aspired to become a singer and would always “sing-talk” to him. It’s very strange and strikingly beautiful in the context of the film.

The Dance of Reality takes place in the small coastal town of Tocopilla, where Alejandro spent some time. His father owns a shoe and undergarment store and his wife helps him out. He is also part of the local fire department and is hell-bent on “straightening” out Alejandro for his own good. Yes, there are many social issues wrapped in an n untidy bow in Dance of Reality that one does not need to be a mental health professional to see that Alejandro Jodorowsky had a very rough childhood.

Young Alejandro also gets into many hallucinatory adventures with some of the wild and lively characters that inhabit the town of Pocotillo (or are they just inhabiting his head?). He meets with the Queen of Cups, a Theosopher, a shoeshine boy, and many other whacky characters. Now, don’t think that Dance of Reality is all about Alejandro alone. Jaime Jodorowsky starts out as an evil character but we will also take a journey with him and we will see if he has any redemptive qualities. His character’s arc is grounded in duality.

You can obviously tell that I am a fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work. El Topo, The Holy Mountain, and Santa Sangre are masterpieces. Our writer Aaron Neuwirth also reviewed the stellar documentary piece Jodorowsky’s Dune (REVIEW HERE) which came out a couple of months ago on Blu-ray, as well. I would say that Dance of Reality is his most accessible film to date, because even though it’s a surreal trip it’s also very linear and easy to follow. There are plenty of metaphors that can be easily identified without having to ask what it all means.

The Dance of Reality is not rated and does feature many scenes of nudity (full frontal male/female), so I would definitely say that the film is not aimed at children, even though one of our main protagonists is a child. I should also point out that there’s a scene of a character urinating on another character that may or may not disturb some folks. For those that may have already seen the film Alejandro Jodorowsky has also released The Dance of Reality: A Psychomagical Autobiography, which should serve as a companion piece to the film. It’s 424 pages along.

What’s to say that has already been said? I could stay here and type the film away and leave you with nothing. You’re mission is to seek out The Dance of Reality on Blu-ray and take a trip with the Jodorowsky clan and immerse yourself in some real-fantasy. The Dance of Reality is one of the year’s best films and is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD. Go forth and wreak havoc.


The Dance of Reality


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: The Dance of Reality features a startling shot-on-digital that upon first glance you would have thought Alejandro was shooting on film. Not so. Don’t fret, because what we have here is a living, breathing canvas of moving pictures. This is a reference video presentation.

Depth: You’ll wish you could dive right into the swimming pool that is The Dance of Reality, because as soon as the film starts, you won’t be able to tell if what you are watching is real or not. No, the film was not shot in 3-D. The Dance of Reality IS 3-D, if you get my meaning.

Black Levels: There are many scenes of nighttime interior shots and of the coast and of the cities. Crush was absent in all of these scenes, which is a good thing.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is epic in scope. It’s as if someone vomited all the colors of the rainbow onto the screen but kept it to where it wasn’t over kill. Dance of Reality is a very colorful film but only when appropriate. It won’t beat you over the head with how “pretty” it looks.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones keep a realistic hue to them except when someone is sick or dead.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not pick up any instances of noise or debris.


The Dance of Reality



Audio Format(s): Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English (subtitles may be removed altogether if you understand Spanish)

Dynamics: Dance of Reality is very robust and the lossless surround sound track brings Jodorowsky’s surreal world into yours via this realistic soundtrack. It’s a very beautiful and haunting piece.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is kept in check throughout the film only coming into play during a few scenes that needed a bit of a low-end flourish.

Surround Sound Presentation: Ambience, music, crowds, etc., come alive in the background as everything meshes wonderfully. Nothing gets buried in the background mix and we like that.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are exquisite and so are Pamela Flores’ vocals as her entire scenes of dialogue are sung as opposed to spoken. The center channel does a great job in reproducing vocals.


The Dance of Reality


The Dance of Reality has only three interviews and they are with the man himself: Alejandro Jodorowsky, his son: Brontis Jodorowsky, and his wife: Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky. I wish there was more in terms of special features but what you see is what you get. I’m glad the interviews were extremely entertaining and Alejandro is a very funny man.

  • What is Reality?  (HD) – Alejandro Jodorowsky talks about the long gestating project and what it took to bring his life story to the big screen. I love the away he so poetically ends this interview – he basically says “If I die today then Dance of Reality is my last will and testament. If I live, then Dance of Reality is my comeback film.” What was so cool and funny about that is that he and the moderator (off-screen) both start to laugh.
  • My Father’s Father (HD) – Brontis Jodorowsky is Alejandro’s son and is tasked with playing his grandfather and in this interview Brontis talks about what he did in order to prepare for the role and how some of the scenes of torture was actually real-life torture.
  • The Art of the Costumes (HD) – Alejandro’s wife, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky acted as costumes designer and sometime art director for the film and she explains her role and what she had to bring to the very colorful film.



The Dance of Reality


 It only took 25 years for the world to get a glimpse of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s new movie, The Dance of Reality, and for some, it was worth the wait. No, it IS worth the wait. The world is a better place for it. The Blu-ray is fantastic in terms of video and audio specifications but the extras’ package is a little light, which pulls the otherwise stellar score down just a bit. I’m really tempted to just start writing my Top-10 list of films of 2014, because The Dance of Reality is a game changer. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Order The Dance of Reality on Blu-ray!

The Dance of Reality


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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