The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★½

I watched this as it's one of ClimaxDome's favourite movies.

I've never been a huge fan of surrealist cinema (I only started liking Lynch's work this year) but The Holy Mountain is certainly among the best that I have seen. I approached it with hesitation, owing to my indifference towards surrealism and fantasy, and my distaste for a rapist director, but as a work of art this was stunningly inspired. The imagery is consistently provocative and perversely gorgeous. It's full of symbolism, notably of a sexual and Christian nature.

The film has three very distinct acts. The first follows the adventures of a Jesus-like thief, the second shows the stories of various powerful people, and the third shows their efforts to reach the titular holy mountain. All three sections have issues as far as I'm concerned, but I found the middle act easily the best. The various depictions of industrialists and politicians are biting satire on modern culture. It shows belief, war, and sex to be consumer products in the age of capitalism. I don't know if The Holy Mountain is meant to be a comedy, but I found these sequences quite funny and the satire amusing in a way similar to the television work of Chris Morris. Unfortunately, these scenes are presented as just a series of sketches and it's an oddly episodic structure.

The first and third acts however, are way less satirical in their intent and they only offer brief moments that seemingly mock concepts like fascism and religion. They also have quite a few stretches that did little for me and just seemed weird for the sake of it. In general, the final act was a bit of a letdown. The ideas and energy seemed to dissipate into a bunch of bogus philosophical talk that didn't really enhance the surrealism. Maybe if I was more spiritual, I would appreciate those sections more. I did love the full blown Brechtian ending though.

Overall, The Holy Mountain is fantastically limit-pushing and vaguely meaningful. I'm almost tempted to put it in my favourites list, but I found it a little too sporadically pretentious and pointless to truly blow me away. Impressively bizarre, nonetheless.

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