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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fando and Lis
Fando and Lis
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Review by Chris Hughes | posted January 16, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Features: Widescreen Letterboxed - (1.66:1), Audio Tracks: Spanish (Fando & Lis Only) (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Constellation Only) (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Constellation Only) (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Subtitles: English ("Fando & Lis" & "Constellation"), French ("Constellation" Only), Commentary by director Alejandro Jodorowsky, Production notes, Contains both Alejandro Jodorowsky's Fando and Lis (1968, 96 min., Black & White) and the documentary Constellation Jodorowsky (1995, 83 min.), Full color reproduction of the original 8-page handbill given out at the film's premiere.

The Movie:
When it was released at the Acapulco film festival in 1968 Alejandro Jodorowsky's premier film caused audiences to flee the theater and start a riot in the streets. Jodorowsky himself was demonized by the Mexican government for the film and actually faced a deportation trial over it.

So, why all the uproar? Fando and Lis is an uncompromisingly surrealistic exploration of a child like couple who experience a series of Freudian episodes in their search for the fantastic city of Tar. The film itself is packed with disturbing images and seemingly meaningless tableaus. Apparently the harsh nature of these pieces was just too much for the general public to swallow thirty years ago. Even now you may find yourself flinching and turning away from the screen from time to time.

That being said, Fando and Lis is an art film of merit with a great deal of subtlety and depth of meaning. Jodorowsky's work has been compared favorably to Fellini's films and there are many similarities.

The Picture:
Fando and Lis was thought lost for the last thirty years and when a print showed up it was met with much interest. The film elements themselves are in very good shape and exhibit very little dust and scratches. Unfortunately the non-anamorphic transfer on the DVD is decidedly substandard and shows copious compression artifacts and a good deal of strobe effect. On the up side both black levels and shadow details are good and show off Jodorowsky's odd camera setups and compositions.

The Sound:
The sound track seems as clear and clean as could be expected from a low budget art film of this age. The dynamic range is very limited but is free of distortion and hiss.

The Extras:
Fando and Lis is a special edition and contains a number of interesting extras. Text content covers various production anecdotes and a history of the film's controversy. An 83-minute documentary called Constellation Jodorowsky provides an overview of the director's works and a glimpse of his strange mind at work. Also included is a commentary track by Jodorowsky that goes a long way toward demystifying his thought process and explaining the fantastic images in his films. Finally there is a printed reproduction of the full color handbill that was distributed to audience members at the movie's premier.

Conclusion:
Fando and Lis is certainly not to everyone's taste. Fellini fans and those with an interest in the surrealist movement should get a lot out of the film but casual viewers may find themselves confused and more than a little frustrated. If you're prepared to be shocked, perplexed and made to think then you might want to give Fando and Lis a try but if not you should probably just skip it.
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