Plot: What’s it about?
This is the story of Fando (Sergio Kleiner) and Lis (Diana Mariscal), two lovers who seek the land of Tar, which is supposed to be like a true paradise. Lis is unable to walk and as such, Fando pulls her around on a large cart, which holds their possessions. Fando has a drum, while Lis has a baby doll and a phonograph, which is about all they have as their own. As the two wander across a barren landscape, they run into all sorts of characters, each of whom have a different outcome on the journey. There’s the swinging shindig with the well dressed folks, the strange experience with the mud people, a very unusual old man and his naked young woman, but these are just a small portion of the folks they encounter. As time passes, Fando tires of carrying Lis all the time and treats her poorly, from dropping her to letting people see her naked body to sheer physical abuse. What will become of Fando & Lis on this incredible trek and if Tar is real in fact, will they ever be able to reach the lands it covers?
Fando & Lis caused a riot when it opened that almost cost director Alejandro Jodorowsky his life, soon to be pretty much lost and even banned in some places. It is easy to see why it never clicked with the mainstream, as it offers little in terms of linear elements, but does pack a visual punch. I’ve seen a lot of movies with strange visuals, but Fando & Lis features the most beautiful examples of surreal images I’ve seen on film. The locations, costumes, props, and all other elements seem so bizarre, but all manage to fit together well, due to the overall offbeat tone of the flick. I am not sure if there’s a connection from each scene to the next, but there are some consist themes and as such, this is not simple nonsense, not by any means. In case it isn’t obvious, Fando & Lis isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of visual masterpieces, then I highly recommend this film and with such an impressive treatment, there’s no reason to miss this release.
As I mentioned above, this film caused an uproar when it debuted and as the riot raged, director Alejandro Jodorowsky was forced to flee for his life. I know this is a breath of unusual air here, but man, I can’t even fathom the reaction those people had. You have to respect a filmmaker that creates such an inspiring piece of work, even if it causes a negative reaction. Jodorowsky loads this film with themes of paradise and love, but does so in strange fashion, in effect giving us the exact opposite to compare it all with. We’ve gotten quick to label movies as cult flicks and non mainstream fare, but Fando & Lis is one movie that deserves both of those monikers. Other films directed by Jodorowsky include El Topo, The Rainbow Thief, Santa Sangre, and The Holy Mountain. The cast includes Diana Mariscal (Especialista en chamacas), Sergio Kleiner (Alien Terror, La Generala), Juan Jose Arreola (Juan I Forgot I Don’t Remember), and a wealth of other performers in unusual, but effective roles.
Video: How does it look?
Fando & Lis is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. I was very pleased with this transfer and while the material shows some flaws, I never though Fando & Lis would look this good. The print used is cleaner than expected, but has some wear signs and debris, although that’s not a surprise. The incredible visuals are presented in fine form and thanks to this transfer, the black & white images look amazing and are allowed to shine as they should. The contrast is more than stable, but some source issues prevent this from being a pristine presentation. I think fans will be very pleased with this superb transfer, as it has minimal flaws and offers a more than acceptable image level.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release offers the original Spanish language, with your choice of optional English or French subtitles. Because of the unusual audio used, this section is hard to score, as often times harshness, low tones, and other flaws are intentional in Fando & Lis. The music sounds cleaner than I expected and dialogue is more than adequate, but sound effects are harder to pin down. Some sequences have audio so harsh that you’ll want to cover your ears, but all of the elements are presented as they were intended to be heard. So this won’t be the kind of track to showcase your home audio system with, but I think it more than handles the material.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release also includes some cool bonus materials, such as a reproduction of the handbill given out at the film’s premiere, which is found within the disc’s case. As far as disc based goodies, you’ll find an audio commentary track and an excellent documentary, both of which fans of the film and director will not want to miss. The documentary is called La Constellation Jodorowsky and runs about an hour and a half, which is packed with informative interviews. The piece deals with Jodorowsky as an artist and a person, which allows for a much deeper look at his films, through personal exploration. The interviews are with Jodorowsky himself, as well as Peter Gabriel, Jean Giraud, and Marcel Marceau, among others. A fantastic inclusion indeed and one that no one should miss, even if just a casual fan of the director or his work. The included audio commentary is well worth the time also, as Jodorowsky discuss all sorts of theories on life, the sense of self, and of course, the production of Fando & Lis. I was very taken with this commentary track and once again, fans of his work should glean a lot from his comments and insights. I commend Fantoma for including these features, as unlike most bonus materials found on these discs, they actually enhance the experience of the film.