The Cannes Classics program invites festival-goers to discover or rediscover a newly restored print of the film Santa Sangre ("Holy Blood"), by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, a 1989 Un Certain Regard presentation. Jodorowsky, a "total artist" who expresses himself through painting, mime, dance, screenwriting, directing, drawing, puppeteering, music, stage direction for dancers, and even cartomancy, was indelibly marked by surrealism. This extravagant epic showcases many of Jodorowsky's talents.
Regarding Goyo Cardenas, the true-life serial killer on whose life Santa Sangre is based, Jodorowsky tells a story: "He strangled seventeen women, and buried them in his yard... At the time, I was drawing a weekly comic strip, Faulas Panicas, for El Heraldo de Mexico. Every Sunday, I'd deliver my copy to the newspaper, and afterwards, I'd go have a cup of coffee in a café next door. One day, a man came up to my table, and said he wanted to speak to me. When I asked him his name, he replied, 'I am Goyo Cardenas.'
"He was short and a little stout; he looked like a normal man, a typical Mexican. When we met, he was a novelist, married, with children. Before that, he had been a famous murderer. After spending ten years in a mental hospital, he was declared cured, and released. In his story, I saw a sort of redemption, which gave me the idea of making a film on this theme.
"The first version of the screenplay of what would become Santa Sangre was written for Gustavo Alatriste, the Mexican producer of such Buñuel films as Viridiana. Alatriste was frightened to see something I had intended as an opera, to be sung. He was expecting to produce a mass-market film about Cardenas, and figured it would be a hit with the Mexican immigrants in the US."
Jodorowsky's son Adan introduced the film at the screening, which was also attended by Nick Nolte. The psychoanalytical fable was restored by Wildside Video. At the age of eight, Adan played a part in the film. He told the audience, "I think the last time I came here, I was ten years old, to present this film, because I have a part in it. I remember the shoot. All of a sudden, after two days, my father realized he hadn't given me anything to eat. I was fainting from hunger, and I went to see him and said, 'I'm hungry!' He said, 'I'm so sorry.' And he immediately asked someone to take care of feeding me. In becoming an actor, I'd stopped being his son; he'd forgotten me completely.
Before the shoot, which was done in Mexico, he said to me: 'You have to do a really good job acting in this film. It's a matter of life or death.’ I looked at him. I was a little kid. I said, ‘Yes!’ 'You have to do a really good job acting in this film. All right?’ 'Yes, yes! I'm going to do a good job acting.' 'But you'll do a good job.' 'All right.' Bam, he slapped me across the face. My father had never hit me before. ‘Why did you hit me?' [in tears] 'So that you remember, and do a good job acting in the film.' I'm very happy the film has been restored, because I like it a lot. I play one of the characters, and it's part of my childhood. Pretty soon, Nick Nolte and I are going to make a film called King Shot,. It'll be exactly twenty years after this film. Thank you for being here, and enjoy."