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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 your own.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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A Spiritual Journey Into the Absurd
gavin694224 March 2008
"The Holy Mountain" is an unusual tale, deep in philosophical symbolism and imagery. On the surface, it tells the tale of a thief who enters the tower of an alchemist and is taught that he can turn his worthless life into one more meaningful. But then we get the symbolism: religious imagery, Tarot-inspired imagery and other oddities.

There is a scene early on where the lead character, the thief, is thought to look like Jesus. His unconscious body was used by local merchants (including a cross-dressing nun) to make Christ statues. He is also followed by a teenage prostitute and a chimpanzee... and another part where he "eats the body of Christ" by devouring one of the statues. Just to give you a sense of the possible sacrilegious nature.

We also have toads and chameleons dressed as Spanish conquistadors, a scene where the alchemist turns excrement to gold (the most blatant metaphor in the film), a gun made from a menorah, and a one-handed, one-footed dwarf. And this is just the beginning.

Those who don't like excessive nudity should avoid the movie. There is an endless supply of male and female full frontal nudity, and a close-up of man's nether region being washed. Apparently, this movie was supposed to star George Harrison but he declines because of the nudity and specifically the washing scene. Harrison, along with John Lennon, largely funded this project (which was produced by Allan Klein).

How to describe this film? Well, I'd say it may be the greatest film ever made if you like cult films. It's sort of like Danny Elfman's "The Forbidden Zone" meets Salvador Dali meets the Beatles meets a snuff film. If that sounds inviting, you need to check this out. If that scares you, run away fast.
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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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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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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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chrisquarrie4 August 2021
Surrealist nonsense. Absurd imagery, no story, why bother.
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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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Supernatural hunger, surreal art and a so-so movie...
ThurstonHunger28 April 2004
So people who are crazy about this film, are fun to be around, but probably just plain crazy. People who hold this film in contempt, are not going to be much fun.

I've seen "Fando and Lis" but not yet "El Topo." I'm happily surprised to see that a sequel to "El Topo" is evidently in the offing per IMDB. Or maybe that has been the case for the past 20 years...

If you typically like "experimental" film (and I mean stuff like what the Ann Arbor Film Festival showcases not say Cronenburg's "Spider"), then you should be able to sift enough gold out of this film. But there is plenty of gold's alchemical opposite as well.

Imagination erupts out of this film like birds out of bullet holes. The plot with its quasi-mystical, anti-corporate kaleidoscope of world religions is there just to connect the dots between artistic film. As such, you could call this a fantastic film, but a horrible movie. In fact, the more seeming contradictions you can utter and pretend to understand, the more you will enjoy the spare dialog throughout this.

The fact is you will be lucky to find it, at least for now. The japanese version I came across did have genitalia replaced by white did sort of dampen the hippie heresy vibe, but the Don Cherry assisted soundtrack more than made up for that.

A lot of the set design, especially when then set spinning was visually inviting for me. It would be fascinating to know more about this film, what did the extras think as Jodorowsky was guiding them on his very obscure personal vision? How much did this film cost him to make...despite its off-the-cuff vitality, it clearly was not made with spare hubcaps and rubber bands.

The mingling of myth is fun, and while some folks may use this to slake their spiritual thirst, or satisfy their supernatural hunger, I'm not yet ready to buy into the chakra and awe. Who are we? Why are we here?

For me, I just wondered, how did Jodorowsky make this film?

And yes I am glad that he did...

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70's art house flick that takes itself too seriously
Sergiodave27 July 2020
The Holy Mountain is at times interesting, but not nearly as good as both the Director and some of the IMDB reviewers think. It tries to shock, and fails miserably. For shock see Ken Russell's "The Devils" made in 1971 which I am sure inspired Alexandro Jodorowsky. I Enjoyed it and will probably watch it again, but it is no visionary landmark piece of art, more a case of the emperors new clothes.
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Much of the symbolism was lost with me.
raymond-1527 March 2000
Religion, mysticism, alchemy and astrology set the mood for this art-house movie, one not expected to win universal favour these days. 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. The result of Jodorowsky's production is a bizarre mixture indeed. While some scenes are entirely original and imaginative (e.g. toads in uniforms) other scenes concerning the planets go on for too long and become rather boring and pointless. Jodorowsky seems to want to shock his audience at every opportunity, and at first he succeeds, but one tends to become immune as shock follows shock. The version I saw was dubbed in English and frontal nudity severely censored. Both aspects tend to nullify or distract and most of the impact is lost. To appreciate this film one needs to be widely read to appreciate the symbolism which permeates the whole movie. I am still trying to figure out the reason for the presence of the little man without hands and feet, and why one needs to surrender body parts to attain immortality. Man is a most contradictory being. In the days of the alchemists, he sought the magic principle that would turn all matter into gold, and later through the influence of religion, he had to divest himself not only of his gold, but also of all his earthly possessions before he had any chance of enlightenment. I think the film starts well but gets lost in its maze of tangled ideas and symbolism.
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Pretentious, Boring, but not a total waste
thirdi31 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
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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Good Lord
Samiam37 August 2010
Like David Lynch's Lost Highway, The Holy Mountain is a film I'd be liable to recommend to a species of intelligence superior to man. This film is almost unclassifiable by human standards, except to call it a surrealist film, which is what we label anything that intentionally doesn't make sense.

The film has a few neat sequences here and there, including a cute ending (even though it is a rushed one). What bothers me most about The Holy Mountain is that frankly it is in very bad taste. Its content is irreverent, and vulgar, and whatever the film is trying to say doesn't come out very well.

The middle section I think is the best part. A number of individual sequences experimenting with allegory and art direction bode much better than the film as an entire hundred minute story. Art critics will probably look at The Holy Mountain, and be reminded of Hieronymous Bosh's Garden of Earthly Delights. Among other things both feature copious amounts of over saturated, unnatural colors and frontal nudity. The Holy Mountain can be plushy while at the same time kind of gross. The end result is a mildly interesting art movie, sometimes nice to look at, and yet it's also kind of repulsive, and not very smart.

Might be of interest to art fans.
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One wild ride
gbill-748774 January 2020
Certainly a unique film, one whose unsettling images will remain with you for awhile. With a great deal of visual style, psychedelic visions, and heavy symbolism, Alejandro Jodorowsky critiques religion, miltarism, crass commercialism, and the seamier sides of man's nature. It's a wild and surreal ride that will constantly keep you wondering what he's going to put up on the screen next, but often cringing when you see it. If you don't like gratuitous nudity, violence to animals, or disturbing moments (I'll spare the reader a long list), this would be one to avoid. At its best, the hallucinogenic images convey sharp satire on the world in a counter-culture, avant-garde kind of way, and at its worst, they're heavy-handed in their symbolism, and seem to be in there for shock value alone. That may be part of a larger point, to shock moviegoers out of conventionality and to portray the more disgusting sides of reality, but a little artistic restraint and subtlety would have helped the film immensely. I give Jodorowsky credit for what he was going for though, and I thought the ending was pretty clever too.
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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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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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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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To know, to dare, to want, to keep silent...
Hey_Sweden5 March 2018
Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky guides us through a tale that is nothing short of eye-popping. Here, he relates a narrative just as much through his visuals as through dialogue and situation. At its very best, it becomes a compelling, highly cinematic treasure trove of sometimes disgusting and sacrilegious imagery, and retains a feeling of spirituality. Jodorowsky takes us on a journey that we don't soon forget, sustaining it in interesting ways for a deliberately paced 117 minutes.

Serving as producer, composer, production designer, costume designer, painter, sculptor, and set designer as well as writer / director, Jodorowsky overwhelms us with striking sequences until easing into his story proper, as he plays an Alchemist who imparts his wisdom to a Christ-like thief (Horacio Salinas). As part of his teachings, he assembles a group of nine disparate individuals from different walks of life. Ultimately, it is they who will make the most important journey of the film.

This will initially come off as a difficult film to truly appreciate for the average movie watcher, and I imagine it would only improve upon repeat viewings. It's a true mind blowing head-scratcher, with our director holding absolutely nothing back. There is nudity and there is gore, but I realize that to spoil much of the visual power of the film would make it less satisfying for the audience upon their first viewing. You really have to see it fresh for the full impact.

I also imagine that this would be a popular film for people to get stoned to, but it still comes off as very trippy and surreal for a sober person.

But there is more to this remarkable film than the insanity on the surface. Once you look past that, you'll see some very pointed social / political commentary, and criticisms of such things as organized religion and war propaganda.

I haven't seen anything quite like it before. Jodorowsky truly is a man with a vision, a singular talent who creates not just movies, but experiences.

Eight out of 10.
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Holy Hill of Beans!
Zen Bones30 May 2001
This film really is - to use one of Jodorowsky's favourite metaphors - excrement, but I will at least give it some credit for some innovative art direction. But come on! Everyone's calling it brilliant but no one can really say what it's about. That's okay, a lot of art is a personal thing that reaches people in a myriad of ways. But then they claim that it can only be appreciated by those who are well read on a variety of religions. Oh, it's elitist art! A-ha! If you don't "get it", you must be pretty illiterate, except gee, they can't figure it out either. Well, as a Jewish-born Buddhist who has done an extensive amount or reading and traveling in my lifetime, I got it. "Life is an illusion". I'm so glad I'm well-read, I never would have figured that out!

Like "El Topo", this film bombards us with shocking imagery, but that film didn't disguise itself as anything other than mere entertainment with some fashionable religious allegory thrown in. That film said more about religion than this one because it was a nice balance of light and darkness. Here, it's all dark. People are s**t (and people eat s**t - hey, this is a Jodorowsky film!). We see countless examples of man's inhumanity to man (notice it's not woman's inhumanity to woman or to man. It's amazing how it never even occurs to these directors to address that issue!). Jodorowsky has nothing new to say and again, uses piecemeal of religious-babble (including the Tarot which like the I Ching, has pretty much gone out of fashion), to state the over obvious about losing oneself (one self) in order to find oneself. It offends me as a Buddhist because the film exhorts Buddhist philosophies, but Buddhism is about balance and this film is waaaaaay off balance! Really, every religion and mythology throughout history has created great stories of beauty, sacrifice, compassion and heroism among the endless stories of cruelty and human slaughter. Well, you can see which parts have been Jodorowsky's favourites! This is comic book religion pure and simple. If David Croenberg was a hippie he would be making films like this. There's no sense of tragedy for the endless human suffering we see. One can't just dull the audiences senses with grotesque images about the sickness and perversion that is (allegedly) humanity and then stick five minutes in at the end of the film where everyone laughs on a mountaintop. It's actually quite frightening how people will call depravity without any kind of perspective art, simply because they don't want to feel that they are somehow shallow or stupid or weak or (eegad!) uncool. It's quite silly really, when can see worse offences on the nightly news.

There's a scene in this film early on when Christ (who is always walking around in a g-string, the usual example of Jodorowsky's fear of really exposing the phallus) awakens in a room of hundreds of statuettes in his likeness. He screams in terror at what has been made of his teachings. I've no doubt that he'd have the same reaction if he saw this film.
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