The Holy Mountain (1973) Poster

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Not just a Film, an Experience!!!
NateManD24 April 2005
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 5 times to fully appreciate it. Alejandro Jodorowsky takes every form of religion and mysticism and puts it into symbolic imagery, that turns into a two hour mind trip. The film is not thrown together, each scene is so chock full of strange imagery, yet each image has a particular meaning. 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 different scene after scene 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. 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. 10/10
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Come prepared to chuckle
abronaim18 June 2003
If you liked "The Wall" (you know, the Pink Floyd movie), but thought it was a bit of a downer and suffered from the lack of a fat woman humping an excitable, legless, animatronic horse, this movie could be for you.

Despite what you may have heard, "The Holy Mountain" is more absurd than surreal, more funny than disturbing. Don't worry if your tarot cards are gathering dust and you can't remember the difference between wands and swords--such occult knowledge might help you achieve a few "Oh I get that!" moments during the middle of the film, but the heaps of blatant symbolism aren't really the point. In fact, it may just be that the point is: there is no point. When you see a fat man dressed as the Virgin Mary handing out crucifixes under a sign that says "Christs For Sale", you can rack your brain trying to figure out what kind of statement that makes about society--or you can laugh. When you witness "The Government" indoctrinating children with a hatred for the nation of Peru by printing up comic books called "Captain Captain Against The Peruvian Monster", you can lament the plight of innocents being manipulated for selfish ends--or you can laugh! This film bombards the viewer with outlandish images and juxtapositions like these in rapid fire throughout, so it's easy to get bogged down or confused or numb. The secret to appreciating it all is to come prepared to chuckle--some things you'll "get", some things you won't, but most everything is twisted and absurd and, in some way, funny. Now when you get to the end and Jodorowsky winks at you, you can wink right back.

Basically, if you can appreciate absurdity and profundity and the absurdity of profundity (not to mention enormous, colorful sets), you'll find a lot to like here.

PS: If you do like "The Holy Mountain", head down to your local comics shop (or browse over to your favorite book/graphic novel e-tailer) and pick up a couple of volumes of "The Incal" or "The Metabarons", both of which were also written by Jodorowsky. They're like this movie--every bit as garish and violent and thought-provoking and funny--but they have actual plots (epic space-opera plots, no less).
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Dated, pretentious, astonishing
jhb473128 June 2004
I don't think this film can be "reviewed" in the normal sense of the word, only experienced as one would a painting or a piece of music. Having only seen it two nights ago, I'm not even sure I've fully processed it. In any case...

To begin, the images, the images. The first 20 minutes contain some of the most astonishing images I've seen, combining Christian iconography, Latin American history, futurism, mysticism, and political commentary. As if Fellini had a sinister twin working with his leftover film and props. As the film progresses I thought the set pieces became a little dated and, frankly, I experienced sensory overload.

I'm sure a lot of viewers would reject this film as pointless or indulgent. I can't say I understood exactly what Jodoworsky was getting at (if anything), or if it would even make an impact on my view of the world. But if film is to be defined as image over everything else, then Jodoworsky is certainly some sort of master filmmaker. I'd rather watch something like this, filled with ideas (however pretentious), than a plot-driven movie with nothing more on its mind than wrapping up loose ends for the audience.

Now, off to rent Santa Sangre.
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I'll be damned
Robert_9010 April 2008
A few months ago, I finally got to see El Topo, Jodorowsky's legendary western-on-acid. Quite simply, it blew me away. It was just so strange, so weird, so utterly crazy...I don't know, seeing El Topo on one viewing doesn't mean you'll be able to comprehend it well enough to describe it properly. I'll give it a second view some other time.

Anyway....why I mentioned El Topo was because it raised the bar for what I could expect from The Holy Mountain, which promised to be even more of a mind-bending surrealist work than El Topo. For this is how, on the basis of a single viewing, I was prepared to judge The Holy Mountain - on just how bizarre it would get.

This may sound a little shallow, but The Holy Mountain is one of those films that requires several viewings to properly comprehend pretty much everything that goes on. On one viewing, all you can do is try and keep your eyes on screen and try to take in as much of the film as possible. Even if you don't fully understand what's going on, take in the experience. That's what I did when I watched The Holy Mountain.

The Holy Mountain begins by following a man who's best described as Christlike as he engages in his own journey from dying in the desert to a tall tower, where he meets a mysterious figure known as the Alchemist. The Alchemist recruits the man for his own plan, which involves bringing together several "thieves" from around the world so that they can embark on a quest for immortality atop the eponymous mountain.

All this is a loose framework for Jodorowsky's trademark elaborate set-pieces - they're big and they're utterly loony. I don't think I'll bother spoiling any of them, but take any scene from the movie and it'll likely have a large, weird-looking set and at least one or two freaky-looking people drawing your attention. One thing that kept preying on my mind the whole time was just how unbelievable the whole idea of The Holy Mountain was. Like El Topo, it was an epic without a wider appeal, and that jarred me for some reason. It just keeps getting stranger and stranger until the end, which I will have to say was utterly unpredictable.

The Holy Mountain is truly one-of-a-kind. It'd be pretty easy to say this film isn't for everyone, but it isn't. If you're into movies that don't make sense on the first time (or even the 10th time), I'd recommend this. Or if you're just looking for one intense filmic experience, it doesn't get much more intense than the imagery of The Holy Mountain.

I'll end this review now - I've run out of synonyms for crazy.

8/10 - this is after one viewing, it'll probably go up after about 7.
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An Unforgettable Pilgrimage...
Xstal3 August 2020
... with a crazy cast and some intriguing and indecipherable messages - you're unlikely to watch anything as off the wall as this, with images conjured from a unique mind you're glad is not yours.
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Art - Don't Blame the Messenger!!!!
mstomaso22 August 2007
Alejandro Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain is worth seeing once in a while. Not because it's difficult to figure out (it really isn't, unless you insist on figuring ALL of it out at once). But because you will be seeing a different movie each time, as your own perspective, mood and life changes.

Holy Mountain is a meticulously made work of cinematic art. It is simultaneously a brilliant absurdist farce, a cynical satire which lampoons religion and capitalism, an affirmation of faith, an indictment of humanity for its cruelty, ignorance and greed and a celebration of life and the human spirit. Who and where you are will determine your interpretation, so don't blame Jodorowsky! He's just the messenger.

Ostensibly, the film is about a fantastic spiritual journey undertaken by an apparently psychologically disturbed young man who looks a bit like what many Christians believe Jesus to have looked like. This young man begins his journey with insects swarming his face. He is either dead or passed out. Some naked children find him and decide to crucify him for fun. He yells at them (incoherently) and they run away. He then meets an amputee with just a couple half-limbs who becomes his friend for the beginning of the film.

This describes the first five or so minutes of the film's plot. Although the film remains somewhat linear and simply plotted from this point to it end, it also draws deep on all manners of symbolism, mercilessly pokes fun at Christianity, its exploitation and its commercialization, and even throws in some pop-Buddhist concepts accompanied by a prophet with a talent for Jiu Jitsu. The entire crucifixion story is repeatedly portrayed, but with levels of absurdity that would probably have some Americans calling for its censorship today.

Later, our protagonist will embark upon an apparently meaningless quest to climb the Holy Mountain with ten powerful companions. Though likable enough, the hero of the film is neither a hero nor a clearly developed character. His (at least) neurotic behavior, his uncertain sense of justice and sometimes animalistic approach to events make him a difficult character to like, but you will feel compelled to follow-through simply to discover what bizarre reality he will encounter next.

Holy Mountain has some of the most impressive sets and surreal to psychedelic imagery I have seen in films of its vintage. Its soundscaping and soundtrack is also very impressive. The amount of dialog is refreshingly minimal, which also helps the director keep his audience focused on what the film does with sound and vision.

Although the film is gorgeous, sensitive viewers should be aware that there is some fairly disturbing imagery in this film. It is meant to be watched while wide-awake and receptive, but strong.

You can find all sorts of meanings in this film. You can label the film many different things. And you can understand it in whatever way works for you. But please do not make the mistake of thinking you've got it right or that your interpretation is anything but your interpretation. Holy Mountain, like many works of film art, does not work that way.

Highly recommended for intellectuals, connoisseurs of film art, and those who enjoy cult films. Definitely not recommended for those who approach film solely as a means for entertainment, and not recommended for a first date (unless the couple has a strong intellectual bent and an interest in film).
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Astonishingly beautiful, bloody and strange
angelynx-26 February 2000
Astonishingly beautiful, bloody and strange surrealist film. Roughly, about a spiritual quest for enlightenment, truth and immortality; but that doesn't begin to describe Jodorowsky's Fellini-like flood of imagery and symbolism. Jodorowsky himself plays "The Master", an occult adept who assembles a group of people representing the planets of our solar system (a Christ figure for Earth) to ascend the Holy Mountain and gain the secret of eternal life. The qualities of the individual planetary cultures are both based on, and distorted from, their classic meanings in astrology and alchemy - you really need to have some basic reading in occultism to follow this movie - and the stunning ending shot takes the theme of illusion vs. truth to a completely different plane.
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Are you experienced? Jodorowsky's ambitious Rorschach motion picture tests human's connection to spirituality, and cinema
Quinoa198422 April 2007
How does one start describing writer/director/star/master-of-ceremonies Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain? Sensational, outrageous, in-your-face, (the much overused phrase) one-of-a-kind, hilarious, self-indulgent, dangerous, and enlightening could be some words, and there could be more. But these are just symbolic of what one goes into seeing the movie. And what is it to see a movie, to experience it, Jodorowsky, I think anyway, is essentially asking? What about faith, or belief that there can be a way to surpass mortality and live forever? Is there truly any basis to become more than just flesh and bones and organs and love and hate and desire and greed? Perhaps, in the end, it might just be art itself. The Holy Mountain is one (bleeping) crazy art-house picture experience, where the filmmaker asks it's audience to either go on the journey and be open to whatever he's liable to let out of the floodgates of his consciousness, or if to be closed off then to might as well leave. So as it goes, really, with organized religion, which his own character Jodorowsky plays- the Alchemist- could be identifiable as.

As I left the theater I kept on thinking about what it is to put total trust and confidence in a "master", someone who seems to have all the knowledge and experience to take people to higher planes. At the core, is what the Alchemist can do for the nine "planet" representatives any different than what a priest or a rabbi or a monk can promise? There is a level of intellectual stimulation, aside from the obvious emotional connection to the immense level of surrealism, that keeps one from thinking that this becomes all weird for its own sake. Unlike El Topo, however, Jodorowsky this time is much more in control of his own delirious dreamscapes and, in a sense, the genuine consciousness he creates in his Holy Mountain. He gives us, at the start, something a little much akin to El Topo with piling on Christian symbolism and imagery like its got to get into our heads right away. This part, actually, might be somewhat weaker in comparison with the rest of the film, if only because one wonders where the hell this is all going; a Jesus-figure, who comes into a village loaded with circus 'freaks' and gawkers at such 'freaks', and is put into plaster-casting to make more Jesus figures, which he demolishes except for one which he carries with him for a little while.

There's more than just this, but for the first twenty minutes, which is practically silent and without dialog, we get immensely rich but sort of free-form symbolism, some that is great (the scene with the frogs in the representation of the Spanish conquistadors is absolutely uproarious), and some that isn't, like a strange scene in a church. But soon Jodorowsky moves it along to 'Jesus' entering the realm of the Alchemist, and going under his tutelage (and learning how, mayhap, gold can be the end result of literal excrement), learns about who the other members to go on the journey to the holy mountain will be. It's here that Jodorowsky digs deep into the nature of the period he was filming in and how fascinating and perverse human beings can be. These other members are all shown in vignettes to be "manufacturers", for the most part, of weapons, clothing, architecture, political espionage, and as a police force of a sort. More than ever Jodorowsky throws out the outrageousness to eat up, and really it actually never shows (and maybe it's just me as a jaded 21st century guy) to be as shocking as one might expect. Yes, it's extremely violent (watch out for your genitals, by the way, when around these folks), extraordinarily sexually charged (sex machines anyone?), and meant to be in poor taste and so over the top you don't know what is up or down. At first, I thought it couldn't get much better, as far as sheer surrealist entertainment value goes.

Yet as the last section develops, as the Alchemist takes his pupils to the mountain to meet their promised fates, there's more depth than I would have expected, even from all that preceded it as already containing cast quantities of rich socio-political-sexual commentary and prodding knife stabs at correctness. Religion itself, as Bunuel did in the past, is questioned very strongly and seriously, however still in the context of Jodorowsky having his own subjective approach. Of course, the director- who happens to be at the top of his game here stylistically, second only to Santa Sangre as perhaps his most accomplished effort- did become a shaman himself to make this movie, so there is a level of legitimate connection to what religion says to provide us. At the same time, Jodorowsky is, all the same, questioning what it means to submit yourself to indoctrination, to "nothingness" as the Alchemist says to his pupils in their trances. It's not just Christianity that needs to be taken with a grain of salt, although that is very significant in the final section (the 'monster' over the boat, for example, has a lot that can be read into it, ala sin), but that it has to be in the person to understand what immortality REALLY means. The final revelation at the table on the mountain nails it on the head, and suddenly (or not so suddenly) things become clearer; the final lines by the Alchemist (or rather, Jodorowsky himself), make it a very poignant end to what has been a delirious, hilarious trip into consciousness expansion...

In a word, or a few, what it means to 'experience' a film itself, and once it ends, you step back into some kind of reality. The Holy Mountain is a true love it or hate it movie. I loved it, even as I still wonder what the hell it is I just saw/felt/heard/experienced, and of course if it should be believed.
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An absolutely brilliant film both in concept and execution.
Benwar30 October 2001
The Holy Mountain is an epic exploration of religious experience and global socio-political trends. A scathing indictment of the abuse of power by both first and third-world nations, while simultaneously a wonderfully clever fantasy that exposes art and religion as hilarious tools of mass-mind-control. It is a truly sweeping masterpiece full of amazing imagery and even more impressive thought. And it also has one of the best endings you are likely to see -ever. Too bad it is almost impossible to find.
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Lush, Hallucinatory, Visionary.
Panar1on18 December 2000
Alejandro Jodorowsky's sprawling, psychedelic opus almost defies interpretation in any conventional sense. Steeped in symbolism and spirituality it is a piece of art that attempts to redefine the psyche and the human condition through a celebration of the surreal, the grotesque and the beautiful. Its inner meaning is deliberately vague, allowing personal interpretation to take the place of empty preaching and contrived moral messaging. Simply breathtaking.
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My favorite movie!
Giannis_Tsiavos15 September 2014
There is probably nothing on earth that can prepare for Alejandro Jodorowsky's masterpiece, holy mountain.

The synopsis, as bizarre as it sounds doesn't even come close to describing this amazing film. The film introduces the viewer to an array of characters and freaks unlike any seen on the cinema screen. The Holy Mountain is in turns hilarious, confounding, disturbing and perplexing but this Jodorowsky's love letter to the art is never less than entertaining. Filled with alchemical illusions, tarot symbols, existential ideas, explicit gore and violence, gratuitous nudity, sacrilegious imagery, and perverse beauty, this movie will make you live an unusual experience.

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A boring art house film delivering the wrong message
CommeVousNousEtions9 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
What can you say about such a film? Some liken it to art, but as another reviewer said all film is art so that is not an appropriate justification. There is good and bad art and you'll have to do better than you just don't 'get' it. I hate when people have to justify that they 'got' a film before criticizing it.

This film is on the most tasteless level of film making. I think people have fooled themselves into liking it. I almost did, I really had to think about the rating I would give this for a while. In the end I based my decision on the emotional impact, nil, and the amount of depraved muck I had to watch to 'get' the satire, the satire being the redeeming factor of the film for me until I realised that it wasn't satire at all. It was glorification of debauchery. In films that satire a particular group such as the politicians in Dr. Strangelove we see them as inept fools and know exactly the people in real life they reference. At no point do any of the nine depraved rich come across as fools or can they be referenced to a particular person in reality. Only the Jesus character comes across as a fool. The other fools portrayed in the film are actually the normal people, i.e. you and me, who buy into the nine's images and marketing strategies. The audience. And that sickens me to the core. That he mocks the people of the world while at the same time the film is lauded by those same people buying into it's 'image' even when it is so obviously gross and depraved.

So the evil rich at the end gain enlightenment or truth, while the rest of us wallow in the mire forevermore. A purely evil theme if ever I've seen one and obviously I can't get behind that.

I probably went into this film way too open minded first time around, to the point where I had convinced myself I just needed an open mind to enjoy it. I had a chuckle at the art (satire?) scene where asses paint the new 'masterpieces'. But for a two hour film with only one memorable scene, the scene that is probably an allegory for the film that presented it, that's not good enough.

My conclusion is that unlike real art from the renaissance period where artists tried to capture the real world as perfectly and beautifully as possible, the same can be said of poetry trying to capture emotion or books trying to create fantastic adventures etc, this would be art, however, the advent of 'modern' artists in both the painting world and the cinema world has left an ongoing legacy of pure muck on canvas and film reels parading as art, this film achieves nothing artistically, it is not moving and emotional, it is not epic, it is not beautiful, it's not even entertaining for most of it, it's just a shock to the system for most people and fear of calling down the wrath of the critics or for being called out for not 'getting' it people laud its brilliance. This sort of 'art' is forced and is clearly not made to inspire and invigorate the soul and for all these reasons I'm out.

Even if this was art, what can we compare it with in our own experience to say that it is beautiful, there is no reference point in reality for something like this, not like a symphony stirring up emotions, or the awe of amazing landscape or portrait paintings or an uplifting or sombre story. This has none of the above, If this is solely an intellectual film, then I say to all these pseudo intellectuals to go out and get a PHD in physics or something and stop convincing us of your great intellect by saying you 'get' this utter nonsense.
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Russ Meyer on LSD
bjbeamish23 November 2006
This has to be one of the most disappointing films ever made. The beginning promises well with some low-grade Bunuel rip-offs, but quickly descends into exploitative pseudo-meaningful porn with some deliberately sensationalist sequences that undermine the quality of the stream of random set-pieces with which it begins.

The film takes a massive downturn when the director cops out and introduces speech, which makes it appear that he has run out of ideas and cannot sustain the momentum. The dialogue that ensues is pretentious and insubstantial, which makes it appear as though the director is so unhappy with having had to introduce a narrative that he has attempted to mask the comparatively tedious action with it.

This film is definitely of its time and indebted to the 60s notion of free love that in actual fact meant free love for men who exploited women in the process. The imagery towards the end of the film becomes repetitious and most of the acting is appallingly bad and at times laughable. If this film perhaps did not take itself too seriously then we might have had a half-decent curio, but as it is, it becomes a self-indulgent piece of tawdry exploitation.

Unsophisticated drivel.
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More Like Holy Crap!
Bill35724 March 2009
Forget about the war on drugs and the war on terror! It's about time someone declare a war on pretentiousness!

The emperor has no clothes, people! Some pretentious eggheads shout down from their lofty perches, telling the masses that this is the movie for the "in crowd", for the intellectual, for the enlightened, and you all jump on the bandwagon! Nobody wants to be left behind.

Surrealist imagery without a real plot is but a trick by the untalented to steal your money without having to write a real screenplay or tell a real story. It makes people wonder if they're "too dumb to get it", so they fill in the holes themselves, all so they can be smart too.

In reality Holy Mountain and it's predecessor Fando & Lis are just silly garbage from a silly, so called director. The only thing that separates him from other bad directors is his shamelessness when it comes to using the moving image as a grift.

In other words, if you try to make a good movie and fail (like Ed Wood), then you're a hack. Sling a bunch of silly "surrealist" images together without trying, then you're considered a genius by a bunch of sheep.

Jodorowsky is a con man who should return the money he stole from unsuspecting movie-watchers.
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A visually stunning but seemingly empty film
Robbie-213 December 1999
With "The Holy Mountain," Alejandro Jodorowsky creates a film that is visually creative, inspiring, and surreal. It is worth seeing just for some of the beautiful, surreal, and horrific scenes. The music adds nicely too. However, the large part of its beauty is confined to the first thirty minutes or so. The plot and the meaning are somewhat clouded- that assuming there is some reasoning behind it all that this viewer cannot grasp or will not buy. To me, the film seems meaningless and empty- but it comes in a beautiful vase.
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Not amused, to say the least
Polaris_DiB18 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Following Jodorowsky's 1970 movie "El Topo", "Holy Mountain" presents more of the same: a post-modern reworking of reworking, a continually tangential relationship of story and aesthetics, a musing upon the nature of symbols religious, political, social, and economic, and a carnivalesque drama featuring dead or dying animals, freaks, tarot-cards, mysticism, and just about anything else he wants to shove in there for good measure. It's a lot more structured than "El Topo", but it's still the same idea... allow a character to travel through many different spiritual contexts to come to some ultimate understanding--wait, no ultimate understanding, and no ultimate "coming to", because as soon as it seems like the movie might actually be concluding, well, there's another whole continuation to take into account.

Once again I find myself caught up with my own desire to see more pretentious art-house style experimental movies and the inability to appreciate Jodorowsky's film. In this case, his "ah, but this is actually just a movie after all" ending, which fits perfectly with his post-modern intentions, is still an almost insulting let down to an audience that has been following this guy for TWO HOURS! To have the sum of all the individual parts add up to, "But this is just a movie and it can't answer the questions we have about the nature of the universe" is not only a let-down, but obnoxious... we know it's a movie, and frankly we're here to see what Jodorowsky thinks about it. Tellingly, he doesn't come to any conclusion at all... it's just a play of images and motifs, restructured symbols and deconstructed signs, with a few tongue-in-cheek flippant disregards for commercial value.

So sure. He can have his fun. But if I'm going to watch something that goes nowhere, I prefer it not actually go anywhere instead of literally leading me on a pilgrimage to do it.

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What a load of crap
zenimaru1719 December 2010
I'm sorry, but this "film" (if it can be called that) is the biggest pile of you-know-what I have ever seen. And trust me, I have seen some absolutely shocking films.

This is supposed to be an "Art Cinema Classic"? If I took enough LSD whilst holding a pen and paper, I can cook up enough references to religion, politics and spirituality and come up with something a thousand time crazier than this, but at the same time keep it simple enough for everyone to understand just what the hell is going on. And if a film maker wants to pay me a load of money to turn it into a film, it would contain imagery that'll blow even Jaradowsky's brain into pieces.

Basically the formula for coming up with film can be simplified into this;

LSD + A hippie director + 70s +naked men & women+ some crazy times = The Holy Mountain.

There are a lot film down the history where I really wanted to get back the 2 hours I'd wasted watching it, but this one took the biscuit. Please oh please from now on when releasing the film like this, can the censor board make sure to put the "DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS FILM" in big red writing on the advertising and the DVD package before release.

Absolute load of crap!
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Pretentious, Boring, but not a total waste
thirdi31 October 2001
I refuse to be condemned by the art-house snobs for not liking this movie. People read way too much into a lot of different art, and it doesn't make them some special visionary. Sometimes artsy fartsy crap is just that. This movie is not "above" you intellectually or artistically.

The Holy Mountain is essentially a collage of wacky, strange, self-important images and scenes that really don't mean anything. Don't you ever wonder? There's a reason these rare, cult movies have only been seen by a small percentage of the population. It's not because we're better than the "unwashed, uncultured masses". It's because if the movie was actually really good it would be more widely seen. It's because some of us heard about these obscure, cult movies and actually took the time and energy to seek them out. And sometimes we just weren't that impressed. (Okay, and maybe it's because some jerk has held the release rights hostage for entirely too long).

Now having said all of that, I still don't think it is a waste of time to watch. How can I say that? Well, the bottom line is, people forget the notion that at the end of the day, not everything has to mean something. Shouldn't we be allowed to take in interesting or different images, films, etc...without decoding their grand vision? Yes, we should. So there are some pretty weird scenes and visions to behold in this movie. And for nothing more than the novelty of it it isn't a total waste of film. I also liked some of the music. But please spare me the "so far ahead of it's time, magnificent work of artistic expression" crap. You're taking it way too seriously. The Holy Mountain is not a landmark, it's a novelty of bizarre underground cinema. Nothing more.
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Gawd, I hate hippies trying to be interesting/spiritual/controversial!
marinuskuiper14 January 2014
Animals were harmed while making this movie. But it's "art" so that's okey, right?! My mood was also seriously harmed by this movie by the way. The entire two hours or so is nothing but obnoxious drivel. "But we're not trying to force a meaning onto you..." Whatever! Everybody who was involved in making or spreading this movie ought to be shot in the neck! Wasted time. Wasted money and resources.

I love weird films: Brazil, Stalker, Naked Lunch, and many more, I even sat through Enter the Void(!). A good movie should provide with either a good story, beautiful cinematics, interesting dialogue, provoking ideas, stuff like that. It should please either the eyes or the mind, this piece of junk insults both.

Yes, this is my first review and I made an account just to warn people for this pretentious crap, many of the other reviews going like "Wow this is so deep and beautiful and intellectual!" NO. IT'S. NOT! It's just random crap from some bunch of hippies who feel they got too little attention in art school and are afraid of not sticking out in the big bad world of normal serious good people going about their actually interesting lives.
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Holy crap, this movie is so weird. The movie is a bit like excrement. It can change itself into gold, if it wanted to, but it's still kinda excrement.
ironhorse_iv31 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
You really have to be an open-minded to kinda enjoy the film. If not, you might find, this art-house film to be turn-off, due to its very offensive, out-there bizarre nature. Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, the movie is loosely based on two books, Ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the Cross and Mount Analogue by René Daumal. The film is seem as either a spiritual or an outright actual sequel to Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1970 film, El Topo. A lot of similarity can be seem, between both films, but for me, it's look like a way different film. This movie tells the story of a thief (Horacio Salinas) that looks like Jesus Christ, living in a corrupt, greed-fueled fascism state-city, where everybody is trying to find enlightenment. Tired of people mistaking him, for a prophet, he seek out a real prophet, a powerful alchemist (Alejandro Jodorowsky), that will take him and seven materialistic God-like figures from other planets to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve, the ultimate enlightenment and find the real reason of being. Without spoiling the movie, too much, I found it to be a thinking man type of a film. The movie tackles religion, consumerism, depravity, and others. The movie is full of powerful visual symbolisms. There are too many to count. All of them, beautiful shot with the camera. Some of those symbolism were needed for the plot, but others just seemed unnecessary or random. Birds and fruits coming from wounds! Was that really needed?! A lot of the imagery are WTF moments, like the dead bodies doing a sexy dance or the robot ejaculating. It was cringe-worthy & jarring. There were some LOL, corny moments, such as the thief eating the body of Jesus Christ. Looks like a yummy cake. Then, there is a scene where the thief riding a giant hook, while dress in a speedo. It so remind me of 1974's Zardoz. While, some of the symbolism scenes are silly. Most of them, do make sense, if you, deeply think about it. The surreal fantasy film might sound preachy and judgmental, but this brilliant exposition of philosophy through art, was pretty alright for the most part. The things that I didn't like, about the film is that animals were harmed while making this movie. Lots of mistreatment. Watching frogs getting blown up is kinda mess up! PETA would had jumped on this film, if they knew, what they were doing. Another fault, I didn't like the movie is Jodorowsky instructing, the audience is take drugs for the purpose of spiritual exploration. I, for one, don't believe with Jodorowky's belief, that drugs are needed to gain higher spiritual meditation. Drugs do kill people and wreck lives. For him to administered psilocybin mushrooms to his actors during the shooting of the death-rebirth scene is illegal and wrong. I was deeply surprise that nobody overdose, during the filming of this movie. Still, in some recounts, during filming, an actor on LSD almost actually cut off the other guy's testicles with a real pair of scissors. Another near accident was when a actor actually struck Jodorowsky for real, cutting his neck and nearly killing him. Jodorowsky reflects that had the sword actually been real, he would indeed have been decapitated. That's dangerous! Another thing, I didn't like, is his use of child nudity. Like his previous film, 1970's El Topo, I was very uncomfortable, in seeing nude children for a movie made for profit. I can understand, adult women and men, because they have a choice in the matter, if they decide to go nude for the arts or not, but children aren't given that choice. Other people make that choice for them. In my opinion, I'm not for censoring, but if they were something to censor, it would be the exploiting of children. I don't care if, it's the hippie 1970s and the parents were OK, in showing their children nude. Showing nudity in children is wrong. That's a big No-no! The movie could have, really gone worst. A scene featuring a boy around the age of 10 stroking the naked buttocks of a girl his age while both are in bed, positioned as if they had just had sex, was deleted from the film. If they did, keep it. I would call this movie, 'trash'. I'm still, surprise, on how much of the children being nude, footage, they got away with. I'm deeply disappointed in Mexican law in this regard. They should have better, protection for children. Even people that fund the film, like Beatles George Harrison, was against all the nudity. He was originally up for the role of The Thief, but disagreed with the director over the issue. Jodorowsky stood his ground about it, prompting Harrison to drop out. Jodorowsky later expressed some regret over this, noting that Harrison's involvement could have exposed the film to an even larger audience. Sadly it didn't happen. The twist in the end could be surprising to some. Breaking the fourth wall was pretty bold. Without spoiling too much, the end tackles the issue of escapism. Jodorowsky is indeed attacking the world of images, of mana/samsara with this decision. In a way, Jodorowsky's film is one big joke on the viewer. It's reasons like this, why people might hate the film, as they felt it a waste of time. Even if one doesn't try to understand the movie, they should see the film for the incredible beauty and poetry. After all, it feels so dream-like. Overall: The Holy Mountain is indeed a complicated and visually stunning journey into spiritual transcendence. It eventually became a cult film. Despite that, I think the movie is little overrated. It's a bit confusing, and out-there. In my opinion, it's a good movie, but not that good. Still, I do recommended it. It's indeed an acid trip experimental film that need to be seen. At least, once.
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Light8318 April 2008
It must have been some kind of perverted fascination, that kept me watching this work. I won't say movie, because The Holy Mountain defies this definition. It is like Fantasia on a very bad trip, without the beautiful music but with tons of creative imagery.

It goes from simply strange to disturbingly revolting back to bizarrely funny and hypnotizingly symbolic. And after that, it does all those things at once. You need a VERY open mind or you won't even begin to feel anything remotely positive towards Jodorowskis piece of art. And art it is.

There once was this German comedian who performed in front of some art critics. He sang a very simplistic song about a wolf and a lamb. Than he screamed the word Hurz. And continued singing. That's not art in its common understanding. Hurz doesn't mean anything. It implies a deeper meaning where there is no meaning at all. It distracts from the real intention of the artist.

What is the real intention? To fool the audience.

This movie is 109 minutes of Hurz. You can over-interpret the symbolism and search for a meaning until your brain hurts. But you will never know the directors intention, because there is no way to tell what is earnest commentary on society, religion or similar important matter and what's just complete and utter nonsense.

You think, you found the meaning? You were fooled! You think, there is no meaning? You were fooled!

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The Holy Mountain is a Unique and Surreal Masterpiece!
sezeglin20 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The Holy Mountain is one of those films that can be enjoyably watched multiple times. I've personally seen it four times and plan to see it many more. The experience of watching this film is a lot like getting a day to explore an entire country. Perhaps an exaggeration, but this film really is that complex in my opinion. Not solely because there is so much information thrown at you in each scene, but because almost every aspect of the film can be interpreted multiple ways. Another word that I'd use to describe The Holy Mountain is surreal. Some of the scenes in this movie, especially the ones in the first twenty minutes, make you feel like you smoked a bushel of weed and then turned on the history channel. It's an experience that can be found by watching no other movie than this one(or at least that I've seen). There are just so many details that can slip right by you on the first or second watch. Some I assume, I have not discovered yet.

One thing I really want to stress is that this isn't a pretentious 'artsy' film that takes itself way too seriously. In my opinion this film knows exactly what it's trying to be, and doesn't feel too condescending or pretentious at all. As I give you a summery of what I think the plot means just remember that this is my personal interpretation of the film, and could change the next time I watch it.

The film starts out with Alejandro Jodorowsky, as the alchemist, preforming some type of cleansing ritual on two women. He strips them of their cloths, hair, makeup and all cosmetic parts of themselves. On my first watch it was hard to understand what Jodorowsky was trying to convey here, but eventually I found my interpretation. The cosmetic aspects of the two women that are stripped away change their appearance. Much the way that these two women are stripped of what gives them beauty and hides their natural appearance, society is stripped of what hides its true appearance. In other words the film is showing us what society looks like without its artificiality. The society we get from this is very symbolic of how society functions. Keeping this in mind, we carry through the rest of the movie.

The thief or Christ-like character lays barely alive in a desert. A man with no arms or legs finds him and tries to wake him up. This represents how the spark of religion is created in the minds of people who suffer greatly in life, or are not mentally strong enough to carry on without some sort of meaning. This is shown by the way that the amputee obviously struggles to walk by himself but does much better on the Christ-like figure/religion's back as shown later. The weak person and the concept of religion are natural friends of each other. What this amputee represents is not stupidity, but the desperate need for guidance in life.

A group of boys come along and carry the thief up a hill and fashion him to a cross. The group throws rocks at the thief until one hits him in the head, finally waking him up. He angrily scares the group of boys away, throwing rocks at them. He is about to throw one at the amputee but is offered a joint which makes him settle down. The amputee kisses him on the head and the thief starts to laugh as the two discover their friendship together as previously discussed.

The next scene is quite a mouthful. There are so many emotions and so much information conveyed in each shot that it's literally impossible to take it all in with only one watch. The thief's laughter gets louder and carries over to this scene as he walks with the amputee on his back through the streets of a town in Mexico. Surrounding him are mothers ironing blood stained clothing, citizen's being executed, piles of bodies, and soldiers carrying crucified dogs on sticks. Rich people are simultaneously surrendering to the army and taking enjoyably pictures of the executions at the same time. A crowd of poor citizens stands to watch all of this unfold. As the thief laughs with the amputee on his back this represents how all the tragic and atrocious events around him bring the people of earth closer to religion. He is the thief after all, stealing the minds of the citizens of the world and filling them with hope, but also falsehoods and more importantly leverage that can be used to make profits later(this makes more sense to me as the alchemist tells the Christ-like figure that he is a thief of earth, just like there is a thief for each of the other eight planets). The crowd of rich and poor people represents how the world views a war with so many causalities like this. The poor people stand back an awe, disgust or apathy, while some of the rich people look at it with clear enjoyment. This could possibly symbolize how many rich people often make tons of profits off of war or just simply like how unaffected their families are by wars like this, as opposed to poor people who often lose sons and fathers from war(I'm not trying to say all rich people are evil here, I just think the rich people in this scene represent some of the evil in the real world). The women ironing the blood stained clothing represent how families are helpless, watching these wars unfold that often lead to the deaths of a loved ones. It's important to note here that each time these citizens are executed birds fly out from their wounds, this similar to a later scene where Axon and his followers "kill" a group of protesters. I still haven't thought about this enough to give you a confident answer, but I think the birds may represent how a nature thrives the more humans are killed, because we are burden to this earth. That might be a perspective that compares strangely to the rest of what I said but it's my best explanation right now.

As the rich people take pictures with the corpses a soldier walks over to one of the rich women and begins to have sexual intercourse with her. A rich man gives his camera to the thief so that he can take a picture said man standing by the women and guard having sexual intercourse. This scene and the scenes before make a statement about humanity: If something can be turned into media or entertainment, it has value in society. It's also a little creepy how slimier the rich man's actions are to the way that we use our smartphones today. The same way that he got his picture taken by the two people having intercourse, some people today feel the need to record absolutely every aspect of their life so they can show it to their friends, so that they can say "I was there when this happened". The same way that the rich man would show that photo to his friends we might post a photo of ourselves standing by a famous statue or showing a photo of some car wreck we saw, ultimately asking for likes or just attention.

After those graphic and powerful shots the thief and amputee arrive at a circus-like setup where the conquest of Mexico is reenacted with toads and lizards. The thief helps out the other people in charge of the lizards and toads. It's important to note that one of these handlers of the toad and lizard 'circus' wore a top hat with a swastika on it(I don't currently have a full answer for the symbolism behind this). This scene is just another example of how society values anything that can be turned into entertainment. As the people watch and give the thief and the others money for the performance, I remind myself that this crowd represents all people of the world and how we justify entertainment with our money. The conquest ends in explosions and blood, and the crowds cheers.

The thief approaches a shop manned by Romans with the sign that says "Christs For Sale". Small dolls of looking like Jesus are briefly seen for sale. The shop has a cross which the thief begins to carry with the help of the amputee. The Romans realize that he is the spitting image of Jesus Christ and get him very drunk. Eventually he passes out and they use his body in a mold to fashion hundreds of life-size wax Christ figures. Eventually the thief wakes up in a room with these wax figures and becomes furious, realizing what the Romans did. He takes a whip and begins to assault the Romans with it(this is particular shot is a reference to a biblical story where Jesus destroys a marketplace and whips people because they decided to set up shop in a holy temple meant for worship). The thief proceeds to destroy the wax figures in the room with rage. Eventually he just lays there a wax figure that he hasn't destroyed yet. To me, this scene represents the commercialization of Christianity and its modern profit driven nature. One interpretation I had of this scene was that the thief was showing how a real life Jesus would react to today's version of Christianity(not saying that all of Christianity has become corrupt, because clearly there are good Christians. However there have also been multiple recorded instances and articles on how many priests/pastors live in mansions and are rich off of donation money. Another example of the commercialization of Christianity is how mega-churches pass the trays out every Sunday even when many of them could clearly pay their bills with what they already have. The most irrefutable example of this is the way that Christianity is so entangled and woven into politics. Some politicians say "God" ten times in every speech they give and yet most Christians would argue that their actions are very antithetical to what the church teachers. Huge tangent here, but I had to explain my personal thoughts).

A group of prostitutes look at statue of Jesus Christ. They exit the temple and walk outside where they stand there, looking for new consumers. There is an older women and a young girl in this group. This represents how some people are born into and die in their line of work.

I would keep going but I seem to have run out of words...
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An Artist Honest Review
ryan_hartig4 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is the worst movie I have ever seen in my life, and is the perfect itemized list of everything wrong with "ART" Films.

I'm an Artist, I studied painting at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While i was there i had (was forced) to watch this film 3 times and not only can I say how much I disliked it but I'll tell you from the Bottom of my heart that this is the symbol of everything thats wrong with Modern Art.

As an Artist I made 1 very important rule that I'll live by for the rest of my life. Never EVER make art for Artists.

Anyone of you other reviewers who gave this a great review, let me ask you. If i were to take the movie and play it for random people on the street of downtown Chicago, New York, LA, do you think the majority will like this film? how about understand this film? will it change their lives? will it inspire them? will it give any idea what so ever in their heads besides "what's the quickest way to run away from this garbage"????

I Guarantee, GUARANTEE!!! they won't.

They'll be asking Who, What, When, Why, and How so much that it really defeats the whole purpose of "Visual Communication" doesn't it

That is the key here, "Visual Communication".... This film communicates to people the same way a stereotype homeless crazy person does. So if you understood it, you'd have to be crazy or delusional.

Don't dare say its an Artist thing either, I'm an Artist and I've seen it 3 times and still don't understand it. In fact all it did was fuel my hate for this movie. Art is a powerful thing that shouldn't be used to describe a film that makes no sense to a common-minded individual.

All films ARE in fact ART. and using Art as the only description for any movie should be the word of warning of how ass it will be, and the director should be labeled as a total pretentious prick from now till the end of time, space, and matter.

I'd sooner recommend castration than watching this movie for any normal human and I'm Dead serious. If you want to know how not to make a movie I'll save you the trouble of watching this movie. JUST MAKE SENSE TO A NORMAL FREAKING PERSON YOU JACKASS
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John Welsey Harding
tedg21 August 2007
For me, there are a variety of ways to encounter a film — or any piece of art — and consider it worth existing in my life.

Perhaps the most sought is art that is like a lover: honest, direct, deep, challenging, attuned. Then there are all sorts of seductions that play on these harmonies. Jodorowsky isn't interested in being true; he's interested in the seduction, in a sort of truth lingerie that teases and charms.

I knew this of course. I've seen "Fando," which I considered without merit, in large part because it was uncinematic. I wondered what this man would do once he learned the vocabulary. Now I know. The first part of this project has some of the most creative and effective cinematic stretches I have seen — and I've seen a lot. They are weighed down with an adolescent cosmology, but its acceptable because its a proudly Mexican film, and the Mexicans are presented as similarly limited.

So I'll recommend that you watch this, for all the bits from the beginning up until roughly the middle act where his new Tarot is presented. These are more well thought out than it appears. Its a strange, polar mix: the general impression is that this is wholly ad-libbed with a deep anarchist philosophy. Yet some elements — and particularly his redrawing of the more colorful segment of the Tarot — show some similarly deep understanding of what he undercuts. Its a very appealing thing, this bicameral scintillation, and done with cinematic immersion.

Its the third act that drags. This is not a man who understands long form and its demands. Perhaps the Quay brothers are his successors and they suffer from the same problem. Anyway, the effort gets dreary as the social commentary is paraded before us, almost as if he cannot help himself. The lack of restraint is an art in itself, the art of disappointment, but I can get that in daily life, and with as much pride and flourish.

The end isn't novel: the crew is revealed as the "final layer" is peeled off the onion. But it is effective, and underscores the similar, earlier folds.

What's interesting is wondering now how this could be done better if it were done now. Quite apart from the structural flaws, would the ability to use special effects technology and computer reality help? Would Rodriguez, for instance be able to sharpen and deepen this?

And the sexual bits. There is a fair amount of nudity, but it is the "Catholic nation" kind: sterile, even when actual sex is supposed to be shown. For such a committed anarchist, one wonders. Its one thing to be just outside of the bounds of acceptable behavior in a theater setting: simple nudity and confrontation works there. But here, in a cinematic world that dips beyond the theatrical, is it enough to merely pretend you are committed, showing that you are not? Winterbottom? Greenaway?

If you see this on the restored DVD, there's a nice short feature on the Tarot, just the 22 cards. It oddly doesn't show the Jodorowsky version of those cards, which you can see in the film. Those cards are every bit as engaging as the film is, even though to look at them you have to stop and leave the film to see them. They aren't just an interpretation, but a whole new reimagining.

Here's a little known bit of history that I participated in. The Beatles wanted to reinterpret Tarot in an album, and had more success than here. Dylan too, and several other artists in their respective worlds. Jodorowsky was a part of this, a bit later. If you look, you can see that he is not just reinterpreting the Marseilles Tarot, but the Beatle/Dylan/Fowles one as well.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Pink Flamingos minus white trash, plus Jesus.
j_chy11 December 2007
I am shocked. I am sickened. I want the last 2 hours of my life back. I want to get at my brain with an eraser. Some images should probably not ever be put on film. I truly hope that as I mail this back the red envelope gets lost and they don't ever press any more DVDs of this. The ATF could use this film to torture people out of their homeschooling arms-hoarding compounds if they could figure out how to put it on every TV screen in the compound. Not only am I aghast that this film was made in the first place, but someone took the time to restore it for a DVD!?! (by the way, I would say that they did an excellent job of restoration). There were some minorly intriguing scenes, and the film is a bit of a quest for something. I won't give away the ending, but I can say that you will either laugh yourself silly or be sorely disappointed.
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