Santa Sangre

Having spent most of this morning talking about the past (to someone who at least is paid to listen to such boring stuff), I dozed off this afternoon and had a peculiar kind of dream which featured sequences of a film I saw way back in 1990. Strange how the unconscious brain plays with such connections. When I woke up I even thought for a few moments that I was back in 1990 again. Most unnerving.

Anyway the film in question is a neglected masterpiece called Santa Sangre (“Holy Blood”), directed by Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky. I’m amused that the wikipedia page for this movie is prefaced by a suggestion that the “plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed”, because the plot is so bizarre and convoluted that it would take pages of explanation to do it justice. Anyway, Santa Sangre, set in Mexico, and made on a budget of less than $800,000, is a kind of surrealist horror film, with a complex flash-back then flash-forward narrative structure, that revolves around the life of a young man called Fenix who grows up in a circus. Among a number of traumatic experiences he encounters in his childhood is that his mother has both her arms cut off. Later, in adulthood, Fenix and his mother perform a stage act in which he stands behind her and pretends that his arms are hers. It’s a moving and shocking image, just one of many in a film which is in turns bizarre, disturbing, offensive, violent, horrifying, funny, beautiful and utterly utterly brilliant. Why it’s not more widely celebrated I’ll never know.

One Response to “Santa Sangre”

  1. Juliana Venning M.A. (Hons) Canterbury, NZ Says:

    You made me laugh out loud with this post. I needed cheering, daughter got hit by a car and is immobilised in a brace as vertbebrae and ribs broken, she walks only with a shuffle, we await good news from orthopaedics. Anyway as film buffs (and she’s a screenplay writer) this film is a doozey.

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