Below is an essay I wrote for a contest. I probably did not win, but I like it anyway.
I became a fan of cinema through the backdoor. Back in pre-DVD days a friend of mine collected bootleg VHS tapes of rare foreign, horror and art films. Being a collector myself of other things, I was completely entranced with the idea that there were movies out there that weren’t easily available for anyone who wanted to see them.
I mean, my favorite movie up until that time was Terminator 2. A great film, but not a particularly creative choice. So enter this friend, and my eagerness to experiment. He let me borrow copies of films from all over the world, from all different genres. Copies off or rare Japanese laserdiscs or taped off of Australian TV. It was a good selection. Argento. Jackie Chan. Raul Ruiz. Pasolini. Tinto Brass, etc.
Among that stack of tapes was a film called El Topo. Of course, just like the other films, I had never heard of it. And at some point I decided to give that one a shot.
It was late. Maybe after midnight. I didn’t have any expectations and figured I would just fall asleep if the film wasn’t any good. I won’t go into detail about what I saw unfold that night. We’ve all seen the film. But what I will talk about is what it did to me.
I had no idea what was going on in my head! I was drawn in and enamored and shocked and amazed and just all-around felt strange. It was an amazing experience. After the film ended, and the TV turned off, I lie there for I don’t know how long until I fell asleep and suddenly it was morning.
Upon waking, I did not know if it was all a dream. Seriously, I woke up and thought “My god that was a weird dream.” And for a while I was unsure if I fell asleep during the film or if I had actually experienced that.
So I watched it again immediately. Confirming the fact that the film does exist and that it was something that I had actually watched. Some guy thought of those things, filmed it, and now I was watching it in my house. That experience broke cinema wide open for me. From then on, I was a hooked on the possibilities, and had become a true fan of film and a true fan of Jodorowsky.