The Holy Mountain, written and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, is replete with allegory, sacrilegious imagery, psychedelic imagery, cultural and social critique. Currently a staple of the midnight movie rotation at IFC Center the film betrays it’s roots when you google a synopsis. Being a fan of El Topo, The Holy Mountain was next in line for experiencing Jodorowsky‘s potent images.
I have read a few of Jodorowsky‘s comics and The Eyes of a Cat, with art by Moebius, is an excellent indicator of what you are getting with this storyteller. Seek out the comic if you can.
The Holy Mountain is about a Thief (Horatio Salinius), looking Christlike, who meets The Alchemist (Alejandro Jodorowsky) and joins a group of wealthy, powerful, mystic beings who go in search of The Holy Mountain in an attempt to become immortal. Along the way the group are indoctrinated in the ways of the Alchemist through a series of sacrilegious tasks.
What I liked: The imagery that Jodorowsky commits to film is a work of art unto itself. From the opening image (see above) of the Alchemist in his black hat shaving the heads of two women, we are presented with a director’s world view that is unlike anything else in the world. The story is a bizarre mythological tale that resembles video games more than it does anything else I’ve seen. This is in part due to my lack of knowledge of Jodorowsky‘s inspiration (a lack that will be remedied when I watch the commentary).
Without giving anything away, the ending makes the film. Part of me has outgrown (poor choice of words) this esoteric subject matter but the final scene in this film was a master stroke. I loved it and found it to be totally unexpected. I would give a recommendation on the ending alone.
What I didn’t like: My general distaste for anything purposefully weird and “quirky” pushes me away from movies like this but The Holy Mountain isn’t so easily put into that box. While the music was weird and the film includes a terrible fight scene, it was the film’s use of bad actors that turned me off. The performances are intentional in their theatricality but it isn’t working and it distracts me from the plot. I also didn’t care about anyone. The Thief should have been my entry point but the movie features more about The Alchemist than it does the Thief and the Salinus’ attempt to make this character real fell short.
I think that my rating doesn’t reflect how I would recommend this film. Sure it’s weird but many of the artists I know would love the pictures that Jodorowsky has made with this film.