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TUSK (1980).

After experiencing Alejandro Jodorowsky's EL TOPO, SANTA SANGRE and (most importantly) THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, I was convinced the guy was one of the most demented geniuses of modern cinema. Whether you like his work or not, after you've sat though any one of those three flicks, you'll never forget 'em! I promise. So when I ran across a copy of this Chilean auteur's unreleased feature, TUSK, I was in heaven. But after watching it, I can honestly say that Jodorowsky is definitely NOT a consistent artiste. This flick is the absolute pits! I can fully understand why no U.S. distributor would touch the damned thing! Even though my print of TUSK was in French with NO subtitles, you really don't need a translation in order to get the gist of this self-termed "fable panique". Set in turn-of-the-century India, Jodorowsky drops most of his crazed mystical/religious/hallucinogenic stylings in order to tell a relatively straightforward story of a little girl, Elise, and a little elephant, Tusk, both of whom are born at the same time, and how their lives interconnect over the years (yawn). It begins on a good note, with Jodorowsky intercutting an elephant and a woman giving birth, but the movie swiftly turns into nothing more than a Disney G-rated nature film, with most of the $5 million budget going for Elephants-Are-Us rentals. There are a few sledgehammer-subtle points about French colonialism vs. the forces of nature, with Anton Diffring playing the girl's tyrannical father and a nutty Indian medicine man popping up for comic relief. But for most of this debacle's interminable two hour running time all we're fed are long scenes of big animals lumbering around the countryside. When the little girl grows up, she discovers a psychic link to Tusk the Elephant when she stops it in its tracks during a rampage, but NONE of Jodorowsky's crackpot enlightenment or savage grotesqueries from his other epics is on display here. Instead, it takes all too many predictable routes, such as Elise getting kidnapped by the buffoonish bad guys (they're the ones who don't respect elephants), with our heroic pachyderm saving her life. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact Jodorowsky was adapting a novel entitled "Poo Lorn of the Elephants", which, for all I know was some shitty children's book. Maybe Jodorowsky was so desperate to get behind a camera after all of his failed attempts at DUNE, that he grabbed the first thing to come along. Or maybe he simply wanted a free trip to India.

© 1992 by Steven Puchalski.