El Topo

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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El Topo is about how one man tries to become enlightened and in the process destroys himself. El Topo is a hard movie to write about because everything you see is happening inside El Topo's mind. I focused on El Topo's physical surroundings and where the four masters lived. The masters all lived in a symbolic place, and that influenced how they lived.

The first master lived in a white tower in the desert with no door. You had to enter from top and descend down into his room. The only way to enter his room was to clime an old wooden ladder that descends down to trap door in the roof to his room. The white tower represented purity of the mind. The old ladder represents lack of use. The descending down represents that you have to Descend in the inner conscious.

The second master lived in a valley that had a muddy river running through it and many small ditches.

The river is so muddy you have a hard time walking through it. His house looked like something a gypsy would live in. The muddy river represented all of society and how they try to stop your in you quest. The house is important because it is the only thing of color in the whole valley.

The next master lives under a tent/hut/lean-to in the open desert. The rabbit pen he lives in is made of sticks spaced about 3" apart surrounding a small watering hole. The hut is important because you can see he lives a very sparse life. The water is important because that is where bunny man dies, in the life giving water of the desert. The fence is important because it shouldn't be able to keep the bunnies in but it does. It might have a different meaning, like how society shapes your life if we let it.

The last man, the hermit lived in the desert it self. Nothing around him but a wooden pole. The pole is where we came in. It is where El Topo sees the big picture. It is the beginning and the end.

In conclusion the movie is just littered with symbols about El Topo and his physical environment.