It's pretty much impossible to describe, in so few words, how beautiful, strange, sad, and joyously surreal Alejandro Jodorowsky's carnivalesque memoir about his family and childhood, set in his hometown of Tocopilla, Chile, really is. The two-hour-10-minute epic—his first film in 23 years—stars his son Brontis Jodorowsky (who played the son of the gunfighter in El Topo back in 1970) as Jodorowsky's ironfisted Stalinist father, Jaime; opera singer Pamela Flores as his extreme-cleavage-having mother, Sara (who does 100 percent of her dialogue through operatic singing); a young actor named Jeremias Herskovits as the 8-year-old Alejandro; and of course, per every film, Alejandro Jodorowsky playing Alejandro Jodorowsky, popping in as a spiritual guru to his 8-year-old self. Two of Jodorowsky's other sons make cameos too, one, Adan Jodorowsky, as a communist-anarchist trying to assassinate the Chilean president, and the other as "The Theosophist" (Cristóbal Jodorowsky), a thong-wearing mystic.
Throughout The Dance of Reality, themes of embracing suffering and facing the fact that the world is nothing but an endless cycle of "suffering and pleasure" are examined with an inspired optimism—a rare brand of hopefulness that belongs only to a self-described "psycho-shaman" like the real 85-year-old Jodorowsky. The Dance of Reality, though ultimately positive, isn't for the faint of heart. An official "trigger warning" could be issued for viewers who may be offended by (in no particular order) the word "faggot," the mistreatment of prostitutes, dwarves dressed as clowns, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, the image of an amputee being kicked over like a stray dog, actual dead dogs, the murder of a horse, dogs dressed as kangaroos, Nazi testicle torture, children masturbating in a large group, donkeys being eaten alive, and/or dentistry performed with no anesthesia. There's also a scene where mother Sara urinates "God's love" all over father Jaime, curing him of bubonic plague (though this probably isn't a trigger for anyone, and is simply and bizarrely gorgeous).