Jump to content

The Dance of Reality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dance of Reality
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlejandro Jodorowsky
Screenplay byAlejandro Jodorowsky
Based onLa Danza de la Realidad
by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Produced by
CinematographyJean-Marie Dreujou
Edited byMaryline Monthieux
Music byAdán Jodorowsky
  • Caméra One
  • Le Soleil Films
Distributed byPathé
Release dates
  • 18 May 2013 (2013-05-18) (Cannes)
  • 23 May 2014 (2014-05-23) (United States)
  • 21 August 2015 (2015-08-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
133 minutes[1]
  • Chile
  • France
Budget$3 million
Box office$558,636[2]

The Dance of Reality (Spanish: La danza de la realidad) is a 2013 Chilean-French semi-autobiographical musical fantasy drama film written, produced, and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, starring Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, and Jeremias Herskovits.[3] It is Alejandro Jodorowsky's first film in 23 years.[4] The film screened at Directors' Fortnight during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[3] The film is based on an earlier work by Jodorowsky first published in Spanish under the title La danza de la realidad: Psicomagia y psicochamanismo (2001).[5]


Young Alejandro (Jeremías Herskovits) lives with his Jewish-Ukrainian parents Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky) and Sara (Pamela Flores) in Tocopilla, Chile. Jaime is a communist who worships Stalin and raises his son with great severity. Sara sings rather than talks throughout the film, and believes Alejandro to be the reincarnation of her father because of his long blonde hair. Irritated by his wife's delusional views of their son and angered by Alejandro's behavior, which he views as cowardly and effeminate, Jaime cuts off Alejandro's hair (which is depicted as a wig in what appears to be magic realism), demands he repudiate the existence of God, and puts him through tests of self-control and bravery which include withstanding being tickled, slapped, and finally undergoing a dental operation without anesthetic. Satisfied with his son's bravery, Jaime acknowledges that he respects Alejandro and arranges for him to be made the mascot of the Tocopilla fire brigade.

Alejandro accompanies the fire brigade to the scene of a fire where one of the firemen becomes trapped in the house and burns to death. During the subsequent funeral procession, Alejandro imagines himself lying in the casket with the fireman’s corpse, and collapses from fright. Jaime takes him home, but burns the mascot's uniform in front of Alejandro when he wakes up, again calling his son a coward and claiming he is ashamed of him. In an attempt to prove his own bravery to the other firefighters, who he fears look down on him because of his son's cowardice and his Jewish heritage, Jaime attempts to distribute water to plague victims quarantined outside the town, but they kill and eat his donkeys and he himself is infected. He walks back to his shop, visibly infected, and a stand-off with the army ensues. As Jaime goes into convulsions and the army threaten to burn the shop to contain the infection, Sara prays for Jaime's recovery and urinates on him, curing him.

Energized by his miraculous recovery, Jaime plans to assassinate the right-wing president Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (Bastian Bodenhofer). He agrees to work with another communist to assassinate Ibáñez at a dog show, but the gun fails and Jaime passes himself off as a hero when he jumps between Ibáñez and the gunman. To get close to Ibáñez, Jaime asks for a job as groom to the president's beloved horse Bucephalus as payment for his heroism. Jaime then poisons Bucephalus as part of his plot to kill Ibáñez, but when Jaime has Ibáñez at gunpoint, his hands become paralysed.

The story returns to Alejandro and Sara, and Sara begins teaching Alejandro how not to be afraid of darkness and how to make sure people don't notice him. She tells him that she knows in her heart that Jaime is alive and loves both of them. They tie a stone to a balloon and release it in the belief it will find its way to him. The rock is then shown falling on the roof of a shack which Jaime is living in. Jaime awakes to discover that he has lost his memory, that he is living with a diminutive peasant woman, and that his arms have been painted the colors of the Chilean flag.

Jaime begins a long journey home, but is captured by Nazis and tortured. Rebels free Jaime and return him to his family in Tocopilla. Jaime's hands are healed when Sara tells him "You found in Ibáñez all you admired in Stalin. You are the same as they are! You have lived in the guise of a tyrant." Alejandro, Jaime, and Sara board a ship and leave Tocopilla.



After scouting for locations in Chile at his childhood village in early 2011, Alejandro Jodorowsky received permission from the local Chilean government to shoot in the coming spring. On August 22, 2011, he held a forum with the locals to discuss his vision with the film.[7]


Shooting began in June 2012 and concluded the following August.[citation needed] Most of the film was shot in Tocopilla.[8] Jodorowsky's wife, Pascale Montandon, was the costume designer for the film, and his three sons appeared in the film.[9]


In January 2013, Jodorowsky's son Brontis, a co-star of the film, stated that the film was in post-production and would be finished by March, saying the film is "very different from the other films that he made".[10]

The film blends Jodorowsky's personal history with metaphor, mythology and poetry, reflecting the director's view that reality is not objective but rather a "dance" created by our imaginations: "The story of my life is a constant effort to expand the imagination and its limitations, to capture its therapeutic and transformative potential... An active imagination is the key to such a wide vision: it looks at life from angles that are not our own, imagining other levels of consciousness superior to our own".[11]

Jodorowsky has expressed his ambivalence towards the film industry and its focus on making money and claimed he did not want to "make money but rather lose money" in the making of this film, asking for it to be funded purely through donations.[12]


The film screened in The Directors' Fortnight at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2013.[3] It received a standing ovation.[13]

The trailer was released on May 18, 2013. Reviewers remarked on its similarity to Jodorowsky's previous work and the influence of Federico Fellini's films.[14]

Jodorowsky was planning for the film’s "international premiere" on June 7, 2013, to take place in the town of Tocopilla, where much of the film was set and shot.[15]

The film had its US debut at the South by Southwest festival in March 2014.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

The Dance of Reality received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes currently indicates that 94% of 63 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.4 out of 10. The site's critical consensus says, "This long-overdue return from Alejandro Jodorowsky finds him just as overflowing with imagination -- and heart -- as fans have come to expect."[17] The film currently also holds a weighted average score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 21 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Michael Atkinson of LA Weekly felt that "The Dance of Reality may be Alejandro Jodorowsky's best film".[19] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called the film an "arresting spectacle," that was "swathed in surreal mythology dream logic and instant day-glo legend, resembling Fellini, Tod Browning, Emir Kusturica, and many more."[20] Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune wrote, "At more than two hours, The Dance of Reality unquestionably has its longueurs, but on balance it is alive with enough images and ideas for several movies—as if Jodorowsky were afraid he might have to wait 20 more years before making another."[21]

Peter Sobczynski from RogerEbert.com awarded the film a full 4 stars out of 4, noting, "What is different this time around is that, for arguably the first time in his career, Jodorowsky has found the confidence to communicate his ideas to audiences in a direct and unapologetically emotional manner without falling back on his usual distancing techniques such as surreal imagery and extreme violence that made a film like El Topo so radical in its day (and which, to be frank, make it a little tiresome to endure nowadays)."[22] The film was described by Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post as "a surreal autobiography that blends fantastical characters, Chilean politics, religious insights and the painful reality of adolescence".[23] Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave it a "B+" rating, stating: "Sometimes it's gloriously entertaining, but at 130 minutes the loose surrealism occasionally grows tiresome".[24]

Home media[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray release of the film was scheduled for 26 August 2014. The film was released in DVD for free in Chile on 30 April 2015, as a "gift" from himself and The Clinic newspaper together with that publication.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE DANCE OF REALITY (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 20 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  2. ^ "The Dance of Reality (2015) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 29 August 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Foundas, Scott (19 May 2013). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Dance of Reality'". Variety. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  4. ^ Benson, Eric (16 March 2014). "The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  5. ^ "La danza de la realidad: Psicomagia y psicochamanismo" (PDF). Siruela.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  6. ^ "About The Dance of Reality". The Dance of Reality. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Alejandro jodorowsky en chile agosto 2011 | Prensa.cl". www.prensa.cl. Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  8. ^ Dalton, Stephen (19 May 2013). "The Dance of Reality: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  9. ^ Lim, Dennis (16 May 2013). "Cannes 2013: Chile's onetime cult king still the wizard of weird". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  10. ^ Morgenstern, Hans (29 January 2013). "Brontis Jodorowsky on His Father's New Film The Dance of Reality". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  11. ^ Alejandro Jodorowsky. La Danza de la Realidad. Debolsillo: Spain, 2012. ISBN 978-84-9793-642-2 (vol.613/1).
  12. ^ Si te da asco el cine industrial, apoya la película La Danza de la Realidad Archived 17 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Planocreativo.wordpress.com. Official blog of Alejandro Jodorowsky. 3 June 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  13. ^ La Psicomagia de Jodorowsky hipnotiza Cannes Archived 4 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. El Mercurio online. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  14. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (18 May 2013). "Watch: Trailer For Alejandro Jodorowsky's First Film In 23 Years, 'The Dance Of Reality'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  15. ^ Jodorowsky prepara estreno mundial de la danza de la realidad en Tocopilla Archived 26 June 2013 at archive.today. Planocreativo.wordpress.com. Official blog of Alejandro Jodorowsky. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  16. ^ Savlov, Mark (12 March 2014). "SXSW Film Review: 'The Dance of Reality'". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  17. ^ "The Dance of Reality (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  18. ^ "The Dance of Reality". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  19. ^ Atkinson, Michael (May 20, 2014). "The Dance of Reality May Be Jodorowsky's Best Film". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014.
  20. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (18 May 2013). "Cannes 2013: La Danza de la Realidad (The Dance Of Reality) - first look review". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  21. ^ Phillips, Michael (29 May 2014). "The Dance of Reality". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  22. ^ Sobczynski, Peter (23 May 2014). "The Dance of Reality movie review (2014)". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  23. ^ Merry, Stephanie (29 May 2014). "'The Dance of Reality' movie review". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  24. ^ Kohn, Eric (18 May 2013). "Cannes Review: 'The Dance of Reality,' Alejandro Jodoroworsky's First Film in 23 Years, Is a Return to Form". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  25. ^ "VideoETA - The Dance of Reality (2014) DVD and Blu-ray". videoeta.com. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.

External links[edit]