So the first Alejandro Jodorowsky movie I’d ever seen was The Dance of Reality, which completely blew me away. It was magical realism employed to make emotional, if not rational, sense while telling the tale of the filmmaker’s childhood under an extremely rigid, macho father, and then the story of the father being brought low after going off to serve the dictator he admires. It was also an amazingly queer story [although Jodorowsky turns out to be heterosexual] in that it’s about a boy constantly bullied by his father for being too feminine and artistic. And it’s a great, instant classic that must be seen immediately!
This one is a bit of an additional chapter, featuring the same actors and some of the same ideas [such as that all of Mom’s lines are sung as opera], but is more focused on Alejandro’s artistic flourishing, and… is okay, but just not that much of a revelation. Where the other one is a powerhouse must-see, this is kind of an appendix for fans only.
It follows young Alejandro as he is bullied by his father for reading poetry instead of learning about business. He finally runs away, and the film follows him as he finds people who support his artistic pursuits, as he continues to devote himself to poetry [which in this film means feeling deeply and being really sincere, not actually studying writing], and has his first sexual experiences. It’s all interesting enough, kind of sweet, sentimental, wistful… and just not as good as the earlier film.
And, I guess it being more of the same thing forces comparison, whereas if it were a different story with different characters, it wouldn’t compare unfavorably. But it does. Definitely makes whatever effort you must in order to see The Dance of Reality. This one’s nice enough, but is less fully-formed all around, and seems to have required much less gestation and effort. I would skip it.