Darren Aronofsky Defends Hollywood to a Skeptical Alejandro Jodorowsky

On a recent episode of the Talkhouse's podcast, the two filmmakers discussed Aronofsky's "Mother!" and the problem with making movies for Hollywood.
Alejandro Jodorowsky and Darren Aronofsky
Alejandro Jodorowsky Darren Aronofsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a big fan of Darren Aronofsky, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the “Black Swan” director’s faith in Hollywood. Though the two filmmakers essentially fawned over each other for much of their nearly one-hour conversation on a recent episode of the Talkhouse’s podcast, Jodorowsky never wavered on his contempt for Hollywood.

The 88-year-old filmmaker sat for the interview in part to discuss his 2016 film “Endless Poetry,” which played at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and hit U.S. theaters last week. The film is an autobiographical story of the Chilean artist’s youth, specifically his introduction to the bohemian artistic circle of ’40s Chile. “Endless Poetry” played in two theaters over the weekend, taking in $27,000, and has nationwide release in the upcoming weeks.

Jodorowsky began the conversation by calling Aronofsky one of the working filmmakers he truly admires, and by complimenting his first film, “Pi,” for its “big spiritual searching.” He also heaped praise on “Black Swan,” the 2010 drama-thriller starring Natalie Portman that received a best-picture Oscar nomination. “When you made ‘Black Swan,’ I was fascinated,” Jodorowsky said. “I said, ‘He’s able to survive in that terrible world that is Hollywood.'”

Aronofsky was quick to defend the system that, he said, let him make his next film, “Mother!,” without interference. “They let me be completely free,” Aronofsky said. “There are many people that love cinema in Hollywood, but it’s hard when you’re reaching and you’re trying to do something different. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what model it falls into.”

Alejandro Jodorowsky
Alejandro JodorowskyDaniel Bergeron

He added that films that have a “very rich spirit” do come out of Hollywood every year. “Sometimes they come out of America and are distributed by Hollywood — they’re not always made in Hollywood — but there’s a few,” he said.

One recent film that Aronofsky said had “tremendous humanity” is Matt Reeves’ “War for the Planet of the Apes.” “Within those apes, who are becoming more and more human, there’s beautiful ideas about fatherhood and family,” Aronofsky said.

Jodorowsky pushed back, however, stressing that Hollywood continues to be overwhelmingly about money, not movies. “Money is the goal, and when you work for money, the work itself is not the same, because you don’t give yourself to the work,” Jodorowsky said. “You give yourself to the product of the work.”

He added that in some of his recent films, actors basically worked for free. “Why? Because they are tired of the Hollywood pictures, of the ‘Supermans,’ the monsters, and the romantic idiot histories,” Jodorowsky said. “They are tired of the deprivation. They want something that gives them the desire to live in this world that is terrible.”

Asked why he stopped making films for long periods of time, Jodorowsky replied that he spent years raising money so he could make his films without compromise. This allowed him to make 1973’s “The Holy Mountain” and 2013’s “The Dance of Reality” without anyone telling him what to do, he said.

Read More Why 87-Year-Old Alejandro Jodorowsky is at the Peak of His Career

For “Endless Poetry,” Jodorowsky turned to more than a million Twitter followers and mounted an Indiegogo campaign that raised over $300,000, the bulk of the budget. Though he didn’t share plans for future fundraising efforts, he did say he wants to make three to five more films, which he said would all likely lose money. One is a documentary about psychomagic, a type of therapy Jodorowsky practices to heal people with emotional problems. “That sounds great,” Aronofsky said.

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