The Holy Mountain Reviews
The only thing further out is a cartoon by A.A.P. Like a cinematic equivalent to the Beatles' Tommorow Never Knows - takes a few holy texts and rocks them out, hard.
"Zoom back, camera!"
Overflowing with sacreligious imagery (that might be shocking, but didn't necessarily offend me personally), and tons of nudity, this is the sort of movie that if I tried to explain the plot (or the semblance thereof), it would only make it sound more ridiculous than it is, and you probbaly wouldn't want to see it. I can definitely say this isn't for all tastes, and I don't even really know for sure what was going on a lot of the time, but I will say that if you like "out there" type of stuff that is art directed to the Nth Degree, and appreciate symbolisn, mysticism, and want to see some really wonderful cinematogarphy and listen to a strangely jarring and ecclectic soundtrack, then you probably should see this at least once if you haven't already.
I'm not gonna attempt to explain or describe this, since the internet can do a far better job of that, but I will say that seeing shots of birds fly out of bullet wounds, and amphibians dressed in costumes re-enacting the Spanish conquest of Latin America (and other events) are two things that I never dreams of witnessing, but feel like a better person for havign experienced it. And that's ultimately what this film is; an experience. It's not always pleasant, but it's far from boring, and sometiems even quite dazzling.
I'm not entirely sure that Jodorowski isn't full of crap, and he might have been trying a little too hard with this one, but I think it was sorta cool to watch, even if I barely was able to get through it, mostly because I was exhausted and not entirely sure what to expect, but, if in the right frame of mind (and depending on your personal convictions), this might be a really rewarding viewing for the more adventurous of you out there.
However, A little editing in between would've gone a long way this time around. There are so many gems, verbal and visual alike, but I couldn't watch it in one setting. So many great one-liners and scenes are all-but-lost in a smattering of pointless and half-retarded dialogue and scenes, namely between the middle and ending. The explanation of the universal journeyman was especially harrowing.
Half the time it was funny and interesting and half the time it was simply poorly written and truly unnecessary, and strangely, formulaic. How odd for Jodorowsky! The music was further boring and formulaic, and it takes a lot for me to enjoy a movie with a (near) piss-poor soundtrack.
How sad that his Dune production never came to be, that David Lynch and not he, who cared so much more deeply about the project, eventually made the movie. Jodorowsky influenced so many great artistic talents in the process. It's truly horrible that he never got to see his own great masterpiece come to life.
A masterpiece in filmmaking, but watch out! The images are very powerful and burned into my mind forever. There is much ugliness and freakiness in this movie. But the experience is alluring; I find myself wanting to re-watch it regularly. It shows human excess in the form of characters who rule the 9 planets. It takes all organized beliefs, chews them up, and vomits them out in multi-colored reeking detail. It's an offensive, but mind-stretching experience, which takes us to the answer we've all been seeking, but might be something we don't appreciate after the tiring and insane journey.
The Holy Mountain gives an omniscient view of what social engineering caused by greed has done to the modern world, but shows us how to live and not give in to a material world. That's one way to put it or more honestly a series of strange visuals, odd metaphors, and a main character who isn't even involved in the ending. Breaking all logic of a traditional narrative being a witness of the journey is not at any point off putting. It speaks figuratively rather than expressing itself through a literal sense. If taken at face value the film will leave you wondering what in the world you just saw. Much in comparison to the thief we follow, the film asks its audience to either go on the journey and be open to whatever is let out of the floodgates of the storyteller consciousness, or if to be closed off then to might as well leave. Visually exploring what is the significant of immorality, religion, and beliefs pondering if reaching enlightenment is more important than the journey to achieve it. Over the top humor pokes fun of the lack of awareness of the form of escapism in surreal ways that ranges from manufacturing art with a fully functioning conveyor belt for butt-imprint paintings to conditioning children to hate specific future enemies. Scenes all of which are a natural representation of escapism either be through photographs, paintings, videos, or anything that mentally makes the subject escape reality. Before reaching the end the figurative meaning behind it images will culminate into a narrative that touches on various themes. Each of which make sense (in this film logic that is) in the surreal manner they are presented in. Once it reaches the abstract ending is where there's a glaring misstep. The ending itself spoon feeds everything the viewer witness in a final dialogue that reaffirms what you just saw was nothing more than it just appeared to be. Misguiding half of the meaning it actually was trying to get across. Then again, from a literal standpoint it goes along with the rest of the film.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is the film writer/director/producer/editor/music composer/costume designer/set designer/painter/sculptor/star and his input is on screen all the time. Creating a world that in semblance is no further than our very own, it's just presented in a different form. At times the film looks absolutely gorgeous and it's design are eye popping with surreal designs and bright colors. There is a scene where the thief enters a rainbow room with a single holy man and a camel. A struggle breaks out but the primitive learns that he is not worthy to overcome the much wiser man. Suggesting the brighter the color in the rainbow passage the greater the growth. It's just one of the symbolic nature elements within. This intricate collective designed is sure to challenge the thoughts and translation of the viewer. As well as the set decorations, props, and the costumes and it pays off as the film is gorgeous to look at even if at times it's a little hard to decipher without an innate knowledge of world religions and the occult. The whole film is a literal two hour intellectual LSD trip. In the scene where Axon of Neptune and his healthy young army massacre a town, the montage we see of blood, dust and guts isn't entirely wounds overflowing with deep red or gory close-ups of torn flesh. Instead there are sticky greens and blues bubbling from bodies, obvious red ribbons from the gut and, in a rather touching moment from within the violence, little birds fluttering from the chest of a dead body. This barely scratches the surface of the surreal images you're going to see in the whole film.
The Holy Mountain is surreal, deep, and one of the hardest films to make sense off if there's any to be found if we speaking in a literal sense. If taken at face value the series of events will have little correlation, but never is it boring because of it surreal images. It's a difficult film to recommend anyone to see because while it provides no background on everything it tackles. The abstract interpretation on the series of odd images is more than satisfactory for viewers seeking to challenge their minds. That is until it partially misguide viewers toward the end. No matter how the film is interpreted "The Holy Mountain" is never boring for what it bring to the forefront to the viewers that will confuse as well captivate the imagination.
[font=Century Gothic]With "The Holy Mountain," Alejandro Jodorowsky takes the idea of a quest and turns it on its head before putting it into a washing machine. The movie is saying that all the answers we seek are inside of us(quite literally in one case). And once we cast away this corrupt society ruled over by corporations and police that has imprisoned all of us, we can have faith in ourselves.[/font]
Alexandro Jodorowsky is one of my favorite filmmakers; a man able to summon his very dreams onto the screen. He makes surrealist films like nobody else can, and admittedly, many people attempt. He is different. He is a man who will go as far as to do psychadelics to create an image. He's a passionate and frequent lucid dreamer. I wish I could be as genius as him.
He began his reign of surrealist terror and fascination with "El Topo", and he went from there to here. "The Holy Mountain", his second film, is also the second film I've seen from the filmmaker; my first outing being the mind-blowing "Santa Sangre". But perhaps the very term "mind-blowing" cannot be attached to a Jodorowsky film; since all of his films serve their purpose as escapist imagery-driven works of art. To call "The Holy Mountain" one of the director's best is a lie; it is a great film, and there are no "best" Jodorowsky films. They are all, at least somewhat, fascinating.
This is one of those films that leaves a certain impact on the viewer, and it is the kind that disturbs us because we can't quite identify it. While most films attempt stories which are straight-forward and spoon-fed to us, films like this one are different. "The Holy Mountain", unlike "Santa Sangre", does not so-much tell a story; but more-so, it is a celebration of the macabre and the gruesome corners of our darkest imaginations. It came from a brilliant, educated, one-of-a-kind mind; that is Jodorowsky's.
So, what exactly is the film, if its story is almost non-existent? I can't tell you much beyond what I am about to. The film is basically a series of religious and rather admittedly sacrilegious images. An almost Christ-like figure walks from scenario-to-scenario; stopping only when he meets a man (played by the director) who takes him in as an apprentice. The hero of the story wants gold, and he will get gold, as well as he follows his mentor. He meets seven people; all of whom live on different planets. They are, like the Christ-like man, mortal...but perhaps they are something more.
There, that's all you get in terms of story; because that's (nearly) all there is to it. One would consider doing an entire study on the imagery shown here, most of which I won't spoil for you, because it must be experienced; and what an experience it is. These are some of the richest, most symbolic, powerfully resonant images I've ever seen in film. I don't consider myself religious, and you don't need to be to appreciate what you see and feel whilst watching the film, but the more you know; the more you are ultimately able to perceive and understand. So in ways, there are rewards to living your life, in a spiritual sense; and one of them is being able to survive such a sensory assault as "The Holy Mountain".
On top of how beautiful (and disgusting) the images can be, the film also cares about what it needs to care about. It has a story, albeit a confusing (but still worthwhile) one. The acting is solid, but not crucial to the overall film. Perhaps this is because, in an Alexandro Jodorowsky film, you need not worry about having memorable characters; only memorable directorial choices. Some of the filmmaker's best work is contained within the frames of this film, and watching it shot-by-shot might just be essential for understanding everything. It is an overwhelming film. It is unlike anything I've ever seen. It could be seen as either overly indulgent and pretentious, or beautiful and unique. All I know is that the film is what it is; a fascinating, symbolic film, and I loved it.
The Holy Mountain explores to many spiritual, sexual, sociological, and psychedelic concepts to understand in one viewing. But with a wicked score the film is grasping even without any search for a meaning. The Holy Mountain is hallucinatory to watch and thought provoking to reflect upon.