It starred himself as a cold-blooded gunslinger in rabbinical black and his son Brontis, buck naked beneath a Stetson hat. El Topo eventually came to the attention of John Lennon who hailed it as a counter-culture masterpiece. Lennon introduced the film in New York, where it later played in special midnight screenings for almost a year. He also convinced Klein to stump up $1m for Jodorowsky's ambitious next production. And that's where the trouble began.
Jodorowsky's life reads like a picaresque, or the plot of a magic-realist novel. He was born in Chile, of Ukrainian Jewish descent, but abandoned his family at an early age "because my father was a monster, and my mother was as well." Alighting in Paris in the 1950s, he studied mime with Marcel Marceau and directed Maurice Chevalier in music hall. Relocating to Mexico, he founded an avant-garde theatre group and scandalised the Catholic priests, who believed he was holding black mass orgies in the cathedral. "In Mexico they want to kill me!" he exclaims. "A soldier held a gun to my chest!"