The Holy Mountain, originally released in 1973, is my first taste of the film-making world of Alejandro Jodorowsky and I think it’s safe to say that Jodorowsky is not for me. I can appreciate that there’s a considerable visual imagination at work in this movie but for me it’s just too undisciplined to be genuinely interesting. And the satire is noticeably heavy-handed.
The plot, sketchy as it is, concerns a quest to reach a holy mountain inhabited by a race of mortals who have achieved immortality and enlightenment. Or perhaps they’re gods. A thief with some kind of severe christ-fixation climbs to the top of a tower where he encounters an alchemist who will lead him on this quest. But first he introduces him to six mysterious figures, apparently the most powerful people in the universe who dominate the worlds of politics, business and art. At least I think that’s what the plot is about.
I’m told that Jodorowsky had just discovered LSD when he made this film, and indeed watching the movie is like watching someone else’s drug trip. If you consumed a sufficient quantity of drugs the movie would probably make a lot more sense. The images are startling and grotesque but often they seem to be shocking and grotesque merely for the sake of being shocking and grotesque. There’s more animal cruelty than I’ve ever seen in one movie before, which makes the whole exercise rather distasteful.
I must confess to some bias here, since I’m not greatly enamoured of movies dealing with mysticism, and when they mix mysticism and politics my interest tends to wane even further.
The Region 4 DVD includes a commentary track by Jodorowsky. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but it’s different.