Santa Sangre (1989)

Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky

A young man is confined in a mental hospital. Through a flashback we see that he was traumatized as a child, when he and his family were circus performers. Back in the present, he escapes and rejoins his surviving and armless mother.

I'm not exactly a fan of Fellini-esque surrealism, and this was indeed more accessible (and less self-absorbed) than Alejandro Jodorowsky's earlier El Topo (1970)… but this really was a bit of a slog. The question that remains in my mind is that, with these extreme giallo-like fetish symbols (transgender women, a tequila-swigging drunkards, dwarves, Lucha Libre wrestlers, deformed children, the magical impresario, the circus clowns with absurd 'Mexican' accents, the teenagers with Down's Syndrome, etc. etc.), is Jodorowsky actually attempting to make a sincere point about childhood trauma, or merely deploying them as a pretence for shock value? I've got to say, if there was an attempt at genuine critique here, then I'm afraid I was somewhat incapable of discerning quite what was being said.