The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★

Letterboxd Friend Fest Marathon

Friend: Jack
Jack is one of the funniest people I know, his unending dedication to every joke almost maddening as he casually tosses out fully edited videos or muted trumpet quintets. But of course Jack doesn't stop there, adding on top of that an infinite passion for the medium of film and everything that comes with it. Always seeking something new and unique, always eager to watch a recommendation from a friend, and always happy to join me for the next film in the Gamera series at the drop of a hat. Jack is just always full of excitement, not just for his own explorations of film but for everyone else's, an infectious joy that always inspires me to push myself to find and experience more.

Movie: The Holy Mountain
An overwhelming maximalist display of the medium of film, a vibrant assault of color and sound, brimming with symbolism and thematic potency. Overpoweringly transcendent, 50 years ago and still feeling wildly beyond any traditional notion of style, blending a million ideas into a mystifying and mesmerizing optical illusion that allures and hypnotizes. Where other films rise and fall, building and releasing tension to create peaks and valleys of emotional resonance, The Holy Mountain is full tilt from its first to its last minute, a bizarre, psychedelic acid trip of spirituality and symbolic attacks upon capitalism and culture.

Jodorowsky, for better or for worse, crafts something infinitely elusive, an impossible puzzle that's simultaneously lofty and lowbrow, a didactic and mysterious presentation that's obscenely dense but somehow perfectly coherent. It presents so much information, both through its immaculately crafted visuals as well as the stories of The Alchemist and his many disciples. Throwing things at you so fast that you barely have time to think twice or process them, twisting a kaleidoscopic vision of man, animal, the constructed and the natural. Lizards, herons, camels, and more dot the screen, blending with vibrant setpieces as a colorful cast of planetary characters flood the frame with spiritual journeys of unfettered capitalism, greed, wrath, and lust. Before long, the technicolor setpieces are stripped away, flames consuming the past to build a path for enlightenment and salvation. Carefully constructed architecture, spinning rooms and tapestries depicting tarot-like visions are replaced with beautiful vistas, rolling green hills and brilliant blue seas.

It's all capped off with a moment of enlightening metafiction, pulling back the illusion of every precisely crafted moment before it in a sweeping deconstruction of his own universe. By calling attention to his own vibrant dream he creates a blanketing layer above all of its chromatic displays, a direct call to action to ruminate on his pointed commentary and apply it to your own journey towards enlightenment, to absorb his film of immortals and awaken to your own mortality, that there is more to viewing this piece of transcendent art than just experiencing it. To witness The Holy Mountain is not just to watch a film, but to intake an entirely unique experience that lives within you, a beautiful and disgusting display of flesh, stone, and alchemy. A unique, entrancing film that could only come from the mind of Jodorowsky.

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