The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★

"The skill of the spectator determines the machine's ability to reach a climax."

Truly unlike anything I've ever seen. Asks a lot of the audience both in terms of doing their own interpretative work and putting up with a lot of grotesque imagery in hopes of a payoff that may never come. That said, it's clear Jodorowsky put more work into it than most viewers ever will: every scene is meticulously constructed on a massive scale.

Here's a taste. There's a scene where an army of lizards fights an army of frogs, and each little creature has its own little costume (see Sprizzle's avatar), and that's just a couple minutes of the film. There's a point where we leave Earth to visit seven different planets, each with their own distinct costume and set design (about 20 minutes). There's enough blood and feces and urine to saturate an entire franchise of movies. But it's even more inconceivable when you take into consideration the fact that the movie was made for $750,000 (~$3 million today; 1% of the budget for Avengers: Age of Ultron or less than a quarter of the budget for Under the Skin).

This visual imagery is used to create an enigmatic set of symbols which enriches the already ambiguous and cerebral narrative. It's easy to dismiss stuff like this as drug-fueled absurdist nonsense on the one hand or to take it too seriously as super meaningful symbolism on the other, when in reality it's a tonal mix of the serious and the comical. Jodorowsky seems to ask us to interpret just about every image he offers us, but at the same time many of these images are meant to be laughed at or taken with a hint of satire.

Endlessly impressive the first time through, although I didn't quite make the personal connection to it that I wanted, so I'll be watching this again in the next few days. Andrew and I also cover it on our third episode of Movies Now and Then, so check that out here if you're interested!

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