The Holy Mountain (1973)
11 July 1975 (Mexico)
A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful individuals, each representing a planet in the solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide's assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek out the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Writer: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders
How can the average person describe the Holy Mountain? They can't, It's one of those films that is so bizarre that one has to witness it at least a few times to fully appreciate it. Alejandro Jodorowsky takes every facet of religion and mysticism and puts it into symbolic imagery that turns into a two hour mind trip. The Holy Mountain is by far one of the most blasphemous and sacrilegious films I have ever seen and I love it!
The film is not just thrown together like a Monty Python romp, instead each scene is so full of strange imagery with each image having a particular meaning and a rightful place in the scene. The plot concerns, the thief, who seems to be representational of Christ in modern times. The thief awakens in the desert, almost crucified by children, he is then rescued by an amputee dwarf. After him and the dwarf share a joint, they travel through varied scenes of surreal images. In one scenario a police state has taken over downtown Mexico. Innocent people are massacred, and birds fly out of their bullet wounds. The conquest of Mexico is reenacted by frogs and iguanas (quite brilliantly I might add). The Christ character gets drunk with Roman soldiers, and they make a mold of him to produce statues for profit. And this is all in the first twenty minutes!
The occult science of alchemy is another factor of the film. The thief finally meets the alchemist, played by Jodorowsky himself, and the alchemist turns his excrement into gold. The black magic of alchemy involves the nine planets of the solar system. We are then introduced to 7 of the most powerful people in the world named after the planets of the solar system. Each person is corrupt and greedy involved in politics, war or mass marketing. Each person who has their own planet, and a weakness is willing to give up their money and be reborn as a Buddhist monk. In a way these people are alchemists also since they have the ability to turn worthless items such as weapons and cosmetics into riches. Since money is just paper, in a way the magic of alchemy in everyday life convinces us that the dollar bill is of value. Many aspects of life are just an illusion, just as in cinema.
In the Holy Mountain Jodorowsky proves to be the master of illusion like a magician. Also his character, the Alchemist has the job of spiritual leader to lead all of the 9 people to the Holy Mountain including the Christ character and the women with the Kaballah tattoos. Also the film is indulgent at times in it's Frued like sexuality and nudity. It is both strange and intriguing, both hilarious and horrifying, and one of the weirdest films your most likely to see. Their is so much that happens in this film, that it's almost impossible to describe. People who are looking for deep meaning in films like Donnie Darko need to keep searching, the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky would be a good start. The Holy Mountain is not only a masterpiece, it's a spiritual journey, and it just might very well change the way you look at the world. Not everyone will like it, so sit back and watch with an open mind. The Holy Mountain is one of the most underrated and important films ever made.
Most of the people who complain about this film say they don't get it and also claim that Jodorowsky went overboard with the use of symbolism and shocking imagery. After reading many reviews of this film I found one reviewer said this:
"It's an episodic documentary that re-enacts much of the suffering and cruelty of past history and man's unceasing struggle to gain enlightenment and immortality which is said to be found on the top of the holy mountain."Later, in the same review, he states:
"To appreciate this film one needs to be widely read to appreciate the symbolism which permeates the whole movie."While this movie is up to interpretation, I think this reviewer, like many people who have seen "The Holy Mountain," are reading WAY too much into the symbolism. In the movie, the characters go to seek absolute truth which they believe is on top of the Holy Mountain. They go through many confusing and mystical treks until they finally reach the mountain. When they get there, the wise men are fake and Jodorowsky & Co. laugh at how their trip was pointless. Then Jodorowsky says "Zoom out camera" and the camera zooms out to show the sound crew and cameramen. The whole point of the film is pointlessness. It reveals the absurdity of religion and mysticism. Jodorowsky shows an overwhelming slew of religious and mystical symbolism and many are led to believe that they are significant. However, at the end Jodorowsky lifts the veil and shows that it was all meaningless. Even the movie is an illusion
In the film Jodorowsky says that "There have been hundreds of holy mountains," and he goes on to list several. I feel that Jodorowsky showed so much symbolism and shocking imagery together in order to emphasize the fact that all religious and mystical symbols are equally absurd. Those who think all of this symbolism actually all means something either fell for Jodorowsky's joke, or didn't watch the film to its conclusion (or both). I truly believe that the end of this film reveals the true nature of the message Jodorowsky was trying to get across. The film is meaningless and an illusion, just like religion and the idea of higher powers.
The Holy Mountain gets a 9 out of 10. I strongly suggest you watch this film with open eyes.