The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★½

The Holy Mountain is an overwhelming display of genius in many forms, layered on top of each other; the scenery throughout the film ranges from all parts of the mind, a true journey from start to finish with everything from transcendentally fascinating, to utterly awe-inspiring in between.

Oh no, oh please no, holy shit, what the f@#k, oh god, no don't.

These are the words I silently uttered to myself the most while watching Alejandro Jodorowsky baffling The Holy Mountain. That should instantaneously tell you what kind of film this is. A film so otherworldly, so indescribably unique, utterly unforgettable and horrifyingly uncomfortable. This is a film that is peerless and will always be one-of-a-kind. It's a film, no, an experience, that transcends the medium of cinema, and arbitrary ratings, into something wholly different. Nothing will do it justice, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will prepare you for this encapsulation of imagery.

Experimenting with sleep deprivation, spiritualist meditation and, of course, LSD, writer-director-producer-actor-composer-art director-costume designer-painter-sculptor (not a joke, all of these) Alejandro Jodorowsky would go on to make a film where the result would be one of the most visually arresting films ever made, and also one of the strangest. The target is religion, society and consumerism but more of man's interpretation of those themes to suit his own needs. The Holy Mountain of the title is the key to immortality, but the collection of capitalists, exploiters and thugs who embark on the journey seek all the answers in order to escape the horrors of the world they're directly responsible for. The film switches gleefully between horror, satire, farce and often camp. It is a kaleidoscope of acid-trip imagery, and Jodorowsky throws politics, sociology and history into the mix to make one enlightening experience. Embracing the free-form storytelling of Federico Fellini and, especially, Luis Bunuel, it may frustrate with its lack of narrative structure, but artists like Jodorowsky shouldn't be shackled with such formalities. Scandalous, beautiful, horrifying and often baffling, The Holy Mountain is an experience that will no doubt remain with you for days, possibly longer, but whatever your view, it's like nothing you've seen before.

A film like The Holy Mountain, brilliant and indelible that it is, is something that I would recommend to absolutely and most certainly no one, as I would not want to be held accountable for urging someone on to experience this. It's astonishingly weird, incomprehensible, violent, blasphemous, misogynistic, and most of all painfully uneasy. This is a film you need to discover entirely on your own and let it overwhelm you whenever you, as an individual, think you are ready for it.

#59 on: [My Top 250 Favorite Films of All-Time]

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