Lee Towler’s review published on Letterboxd:
Recently I discovered Jodorowsky's version of the unmade science fiction epic Dune, and I'm still eager to watch the documentary on the subject. From some reading it became pretty apparent that the project never came to fruition because of producers being intimidated by his uncompromisingly surreal and distinct vision of the world that wouldn't please a wide audience. He asked for too much and wasn't willing to give much back, he was solely in it for the sake of his art and would have rather not made the picture at all that compromise. So it got me pretty interested in him and his art.
The Holy Mountain never disappointed me, it's Jodorowsky's vision in every sense; completely uncompromising, surrealist, disturbing, hilarious, mesmerising, spiritual, religious and unlike anything I've ever seen before or likely to see after.
What really surprises me is how some movies like to put their symbolism in the background and an engaging story first so that while it can appeal to everyone, people who want more can analyse it to their hearts content. Jodorowsky somehow manages to completely ignore that and put the symbolism right in the foreground so you can't miss it. You have to think, you're not watching this film without analysing every gorgeous frame of it. To make it all the better it's not going to be abundantly obvious what the hell is actually going on half the time, there's hardly any dialogue and the surrealism is strikingly violent. Yet somehow through completely ignoring every cinematic convention to exist; it still manages to work.
I couldn't begin to tell you what anything actually meant in this movie at all, I'm terribly at analysing even the most basic of symbolism. Usually if I'm not able to understand something I would just write it off as being pretentious muck, but in the case of this there is something there so confident and mesmerising that I can't just say it's so. Despite ignoring cinematic conventions it's still engaging, it still manages to hook me in through the spiritual journey of The Thief. I have next to no clue what was going on but I think the mystery of that is what makes it really special.
While I read it set out to transcend film, I wouldn't go that far. I agree it ignores cinematic conventions all the way through, it may even be a transcendental experience but it in my opinion there isn't any film that transcends deeper than the entire medium it's in. I even believe films can be an experience, but in the end it's still just a film. I don't consider this a bad thing and people may disagree with me, but that's just my two cents on the statement.
Sorry if this has just been one big ramble-filled mess, but I can't begin to comprehend my thoughts on The Holy Mountain nevermind structure them in an orderly manner. Jodorowsky manages to create one of the most visually striking, surrealistically violent and poignant displays of religion and spiritualism on film, it's a mesmerising experience from start to finish.