The Holy Mountain
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
When I use the expression "Holy Shit!" it is used quite literally here. Most films I scrawl some drunken notes while watching to help me cobble together some semblance of a "decent" review afterwards, but for this film? Multiple pages of finely-scribbled notes with multiple "Holy Shit!" moments, far beyond the literal one. And while I'd like to share them all with you, it just wouldn't be fair. My hope for this particular evening was to knock off a couple of reviews to post, in fact. But that's changed since my virgin viewing of The Holy Mountain. Crazy Great, with momentary lapses of reason. Or judgment. I get those fuckers confused sometimes. In the meantime the following is a distillation of way too many notes in way too few of paragraphs, spoiler-free as possible. Even so, this is a film you've got to absorb for yourself to make anything of it. Drunk or otherwise alternated is highly recommended.
While seemingly random at first, the very strong visuals continue to string together in a fairly lucid narrative. From the opening scene that demonstrates the casting away of physical and personal attachments, intersected by the opening credits with FANTASTIC artwork that calls to mind the concept of prying open the third eye (thanks, Tool! Er, I mean Buddha. Shiva? One of those crazy goats.), to be followed by a heavily allegorical scene laid down to a funky beat. If you've ever wondered how a both hand-less and foot-less person can light a stashed joint, here's proof on film. Freakin' Jodorowsky and his crafty amputees. What can I say?
Following this presents the first "Holy Crap!" moment I have capitalized (and occasionally underlined, sometimes multiple times) that shows a fucked-up juxtaposition between the happy-go-lucky Hey-Zeus character tossing around his little limbless dope-smoking buddy during a parade of gas-masked military ranks marching in time while bearing skinned animal carcasses (maybe dogs, most likely lambs), on crosses above their heads before a church. What the Fuck? Meanwhile the upper-class, in their fine garments and kneeling in absolution, sway to the marching. Tourists find the oppression and executions quaint and Kodak-worthy, in the most disturbing of ways. While it comes across even more blunt in the recollection, the beauty is in the practically diaglogue-less visual narration taking place here. All this within the first 9 minutes or so, and barely scratches the surface of the borderline insanity caught on film, and is surprisingly thought-provoking. Yes, even while drunk. I think. Thought provoking versus drunk, that is; I know I'm pretty fuckin' lit at this particular point in time, and I seriously refuse to think about it. Finely illustrated is the conquest of Mexico using nothing but lizards and assorted reptilians as the natives (in costume) versus the arrival of three ships (I think you know the ones) containing nothing but frogs and toads (dressed as soldiers or monk-like holy toads); they confront and conflict with a most bloody outcome. This, of course, is all to an upbeat German accordion tune with lyrics I couldn't understand. Don't worry, apparently neither could the natives.
Then it gets weirder. Seriously Surreal and Theologically Strained, with a dash of eroticism and buckets full of hallucinogenics (LSD, shrooms, peyote, whathaveyou). Honestly, this is a great visual-oriented film that delves into some of the most relevant religious, social and political of imagery and connotation, frighteningly familiar in many ways today as it was 34 freakin years ago when this celluloid was exposed with most certain purpose. Cyclical for sure, can no one escape the past? Thankfully for G.W.B. we're fortunate to repeat it all, with relish. Some mustard. A couple of onions, that's nice.
Just slid sideways on the review. Quite alright. If you truly want to witness insanity in written form, you can in the .jpg format [[WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS]] here. You wonder how the DMR comes to be? Here's my notes for this particular film, what essentially is a play-by-play of the movie as it progresses. From this I pull the review you're reading now. Sometimes reviews closely resemble the written page, but in this particular case I observed too much, mostly in a growingly drunken fashion. At least it's almost legible at the end. I apologize for the cropped right margin. While not quite that severe, I tend to write off the physical page. Craziness ensues. I shift the stack of paper more left. Normalcy resumes. Good luck with that. It's films like this that prolong the publishing of the DMR on a regular basis.
Great Scenes: From start to finish, this is filled with surreal, allegorical images and concepts. I'll knock the whole "shit into gold" scene out first, as it seems to capture the widest of attention. But before that comes the Lizard VS Toad Mexican Standoff (to a nifty German tune), lecherous old man offering his eyeball to a child whore, Ascending the Crimson Tower on a Golden Hook, Escher's Mirror Funhouse, Deaf Dumb and Blind 'Overseers,' AN ARMLESS MIDGET IN A LOINCLOTH AND A HELMET screaming relentlessly while attacking the broken corpse of a mannequin, Fucking Peruvians and their Llamas, SOMETHING SO SPECTACULAR, as my slightly confusing notation as "Best Scene" indicates, is so great I can't even read, comprehend, or relate to you here how Fucking Awesome a display it just might actually be. Seriously. Read the notes, let me know. I'm fucking lost where that one was going. BUT THERE'S STILL MORE! Basically it comes down to see it for your fucking self, Any Interpretation is Good. And it was a chimpanzee, apparently. I'd look into if that was technically an actual monkey or not, but fuck it. I'm drunk. I'm going with yes.
I will leave you with this, though, just to stay "topically relevant" as the bastardization of news channels seem to justify themselves these days. Have you ever gone down to, say, Tijuana, gotten piss-poor drunk after doing manual labor, only to awake in a mound of somewhat-rotten potatoes and are surrounded by effigies of yourself? What Would Jesus Do? More importantly, What Would Paris Hilton Do? DVDs of the encounter would fly off the shelf, I'd think. It could go further, but I refuse to contemplate or embellish...
DVD Notes: Regarding the menu: Say 'ello to my l'ttle friends! Rather balanced and calming in its own right, both visually and aurally, as we're greeted by the opening menu. Truly representative of the film to follow, as crazy as it may be in certain respects. Aspect-wise is truly represented, with a great transfer to boot thanks to our diligent friends at, well, we'll just say Anchor Bay. A bit of a list of credits, including abkco who seem to be at the root of the "non-release of the film matter," but we'll let that pass for now. STARZ Home Entertainment also included, expanding their horizons, so to speak, as far as physical home market shares are concerned. But what the fuck am I talking about here?
Film Commentary by Jodorowsky. Surprisingly helpful.