Santa Sangre Review
I kept multitasking when I was watching the first half of this film named Santa Sangre because it was boring and most things there were just obscure symbols and metaphors. But when the film went to the end I found it really interesting. So here I would like to talk about the things I noticed.
Just like Jodorowsky’s other films, this film is mainly about his childhood in a surreal way. Some famous directors at that times loved using theory of Freud’s to construct their films’ basic forms, so we can interpret and understand them in a freudian way.
The father in Santa Sangre was a typical male chauvinist. In most films of this kind, the mother would always play a weak role but in this film it’s totally different — this mother was an aggressive woman just like her husband.
The main effect of the father on the leading role — his son, was that he taught his son how to be sadistic (throwing knifes to lovers, etc) and got an eagle tattooed on his chest just like himself. In fact, this was a symbol of a typical male citizen in a society ruled by men. But here in this film, the difference was that those effects from father were actually far less than those from leading role’s mother, whose arms were once cut off by the raging husband.
After the mother lost her arms, the son has always played the role of the mother’s arms on stage. As time went by, the son’s arms seem to completely belong to his mother, and he even wanted to make his head disappear so that he could serve his mother well. And yeah, he even wanted to be his mother.
One day he found a lover and they planned to play the sadism & masochism game his father taught when he was a little boy. When they started, the illusion of his mother appeared and asked him to kill the lover. The arms of his suddenly became his mother’s, and his lover was killed.
The next part was a story of this little man and his new crush. She was as powerful as a typical man and when the little guy first saw her, the film director Jodorowsky used a image of a creepy snake to show the guy’s sexual desire for the woman, which in Freudian theory means genital. They went back to the theater and the man wanted to show his talent in circus. When he started performing, the illusion of his mother appeared again and suddenly used his arms to kill his strong lover.
It was a typical fragment of freudian psychoanalysis too. Many people who suffer from the oedipus complex have a fetish for powerful women. They always try to find more powerful women than their mothers to develop their empathy, but obviously this man failed this time.
The last part of the film was the reunion of the young man and his dumb first love in childhood’s circus. They went back to the old place and the girl wore the same makeup and clothes as when she was a little kid. At that moment, as you can easily conjecture, the illusion of his mother emerged, but this time he felt the strength of love and he started to fight with the illusion with a knife. Finally the illusion of his mother was killed.
It seemed like a happy ending though they had to get out of the door and raise their hands to the police. What would happen next was no longer important because the man was finally able to control his own arms and not being tortured by the illusion. In a simple way, yes, he had already got over the shadows from childhood.
However, I would like to give an interpretation from another point of view.
Take a closer look at the beginning of this film, the father couldn’t agree with the religious belief the mother was into, and he rushed to the church to take away his son. At that time, the mother didn’t seem to care about her son, she only cared about the church and her belief. But when the church was flattened, the mother gave up the resistance and held her son crying, at that time her choice was her son.
So, the mode of religion — the mother — the son, was just like later the mode of the mother — the man — the first love. There was no huge difference between the guy and his mother. Although he was trying to defeat the shadows from childhood, the way he chose was no different from his mother.
Also, take a look at the flattened church and the final quotation from Psalms, they also made a perfect contradiction.
The director’s attitude was totally a mystery. He neither praised the power of love nor anti-religion. The film itself contains a lot of positions but it doesn’t clearly indicate one of them, which is very clever and tricky, and makes people think a lot more: what is the attitude of this film for religion? And what is the attitude of this film to the patriarchy or matriarchy? Is this really all about the successful salvation?
Santa Sangre 影评