The Holy Mountain Reviews
I really question the mental stability of the writer and director.
Come 1973 and Jodorowsky had become one of the most exciting new filmmakers to pique the interests of the more adventurous of cinephiles. His 1970 classic, "El Topo," warped the insides of the western and metamorphosed it into something philosophical and psychedelic - a game-changer both intellectually and visually, it became a target of ecstatic word-of-mouth on the underground film circuit, made fans out of John Lennon and George Harrison, and turned Jodorowsky into a cult sensation.
But upon "The Holy Mountain's" highly anticipated premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, the hype surrounding Jodorowsky all but dissipated. Cutting twenty minutes from its run time to eliminate as much dialogue as possible, reviews of the movie were mixed and therefore kept Jodorowsky trapped in the same cultish bubble he found himself in after "El Topo's" initial release. Post-Cannes, the film still did decently well - it was an immensely popular midnight movie, playing for sixteen months straight following its 1973 showcasing at the Waverly - but today is "The Holy Mountain" better looked at as a forgotten masterwork, an overlooked provocateur of the celluloid never to be untangled but always mystified and maybe even repulsed by.
The thought of a storyline is laughable - the movie's a rant, an illogical ramble doomed by its nonsensicality. For the sake of brevity and avoiding swimming in paragraphs of indecipherable "plot" description, I'll say that "The Holy Mountain," more or less, is a satire of religious practice, esotericism, and cultural exoticism, finding its many layers through various vignettes that involve several individuals' attempts to find fulfillment or reach some sort of vague sort of enlightenment in their already fitful lives.
But "The Holy Mountain" is not as cerebrally minded as the works of societal criticizer Luis Buñuel, whose movies seem conventional when compared to Jodorowsky's. Whereas Buñuel attacks his figures of interest through cutting dialogue matched by clever imagery, Jodorowsky relies heavily on his photographic techniques, his set design, and his staging - though Godardian narration sometimes guides us in the direction of assorted conclusions, all moments of monologue and dialogue do little to enhance the effect the imagery already has on us.
And there's power in that. As a purist with a small capacity for films that prefer style over substance, phenomenal is the way Jodorowsky's able to so persuasively provoke with his images. What they all mean would require deep analyzation I'm to apathetic to undertake as of now, but his frequent marrying of beauty and violence are confidently mounted and extraordinary to experience. Like Federico Fellini, perhaps the only filmmaker that seems to bear any sort of similarity to him, Jodorowsky is adept at making his flurries of hallucinatory set pieces carry strong scents of meaning, inviting us to dig deeper into their essences instead of letting them get lifted away into the throes of the purgatory that is masturbatory directing.
But "The Holy Mountain" never feels masturbatory because Jodorowsky is so giving in the sharing of his vision. There's wacky humor to be found within his labyrinth of color and crypticness, and getting lost in the film's symbols and allegories aplenty is an enticing notion, not a materialistic thought. Sure the movie eventually loses its momentum - no picture of its byzantine aptitude should have the long running time that it does - but before we begin to feel fatigue are we incapable of forgetting that sense of bracing erraticism that fell beforehand. You'll never see anything like "The Holy Mountain," and I'm sure you'll never want to.
Years after, I consider this period as the end of tender youth. This thing has changed the game. A monument.
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 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 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.
It's tough to say. It is definitely a movie worth watching, however, I don't think somebody walks away from the viewing without any feeling other than "Huh" and "Man, people do some weird shit for religious purposes."
Alejandro Jodorowsky's movie, bankrolled by members and management of The Beatles that was later distributed in 2007 on DVD, is a provocative mix of Art House & Fantasy. I don't pretend to be a master of either nomination and I'm even more reluctant to offer a recommendation for all types of filmgoer to indulge in this film. This film is intense, weird and meant to discomfort the lay pastoral public.
Technically, each frame is mesmorizing. The colors are brillant and all of the actors' blocking flawless. Barring the obvious religious symbolism amongst the characters, the imagery is more like an exercise in the world of Salvidor Dali than a linear parable for one to decipher and understand.
I think the exploratory filmgoer would enjoy a one time viewing of this film away from overintellectualization and interpretation. This film is meant to be experienced and not understood
To me this film comes from a similar state of mind that I imagine Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" was composed and I strongly feel that much like the throngs of those who attended the first couple of Stravinsky's recitals, you will either stay until the end in shock or protest the film on the streets.