The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★★

My Top 100 Favorite Films - #28

After watching El Topo, I was very eager to watch The Holy Mountain. I can begin by saying that I wasn't disappointed. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and I might even consider it one of the best films I have seen. It's message might not be very subtle, but the manner in which it conveys said message is entertaining for those who look for symbolism, cinematic excellence and pure fun. I'm not going to explain the film, as it pretty much does that itself, even if the symbolism is left rather vague, but if you want a great analysis on the film, it can be found here (I personally recommend Renegade Cut, plus the host, Leon Thomas, is here on Letterboxd too).

What I liked about the film was the direction first and foremost. As in El Topo, Jodorowsky manages to find a nearly perfect balance between insightful artistry and entertainment. He doesn't shy away from revelling in the comedic aspects of the themes his film delves into, and it leaves us with moments that goes from sheer comedic insanity towards the deep search for enlightenment. It is through the direction that a somewhat cheesy philosophy of going from shit to gold as the path to true enlightenment and immortality fits perfectly into the context of the film where truly horrible people find the way to inner peace. That is something only a true cinematic master can do, especially since he manages to have fun with it, and have his audience laugh along with him.

The set design, costume design and art direction provides us with interesting settings and characters that brings life to both the cinematography and score. The cinematography not only brings us beautiful shots, but it also manages to capture the madness and wisdom that can be read into the world we're presented with. The score is also massively improved from El Topo, as it doesn't distract from the film, but it thankfully enhances the atmosphere of each scene. The massive improvements in the audiovisual department of this film in comparison to its predecessor makes The Holy Mountain stand out in terms of immersion.

If I have some complaints, though, I have to say that certain scenes felt like they dragged and were only there for the sake of being absurd. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with all the symbolism, but why did the scenes with the hallucinations of each character have to last so long, and why did screams feel so forced? Why did we have to watch an old hag cut off a man's dick while standing on a tree filled with decapitated birds? What was up with the man with tigerhead tits ejaculating Charlie Sheen's favorite soft drink? Again, not a complaint on my behalf, it was just more confusing and dragged out than necessary.

In conclusion, The Holy Mountain was a film I found fantastic. It might not get the same reactions out of others as it did in me, but I can only recommend it, as it is a film that is one of a kind.

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