The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★½

'Your sacrifice completes my sanctuary of one thousand testicles.'

Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, 1970) is revered as a mystifying director by his contemporaries and genre specialists alike for his puzzling yet questionable films. The critics are a different story. His films follow the 'avant-garde' method of narrating an intentionally disjointed plot, presented to the audience with grand imagery, dripping with concentrated surrealism.

'Mountain' has some of the best visuals I've ever watched on screen. The grand set-pieces, the superior set design and the terrific and sublime visuals/imagery that is downright bad or inexplicably breathtaking. The polarity kept me going for some 109 minutes. No, I didn't stop, the rest 7-8 minutes was the credit roll. I braved this one.

Jodorowsky has a lot to say about a lot of stuff, Lot (the Biblical gent) included. The Hebrew meaning for the word 'Lut' is 'to wrap closely or to envelop'. It also means 'excess', and Lut is an architect (Pluto being his association) with a solution to the problem of population growth versus real estate. He convinces the authority of his coffin like accommodation, where the workers will only sleep at the workplace to conserve energy, et al.

'Mountain' begins with an asymmetrical shot that resembles a Rorschach, with the titles designed the way Sanskrit is written. It also reveals the influences of the Mahabharata on the director as we hear the 'Ganesh Puja' being played in the back. The influences do not stop here. Later in the film we can see inspiration from the parables of the Koran, specially the story of Abraham and his son Ishmael.

From scenes that desecrate the Church in the most debasing ways possible to psychedelic inter-cuts of the acid-kaleidoscope variety, 'Mountain' is on a crusade to anger the viewer and to immediately project a hyper image on screen; like the painting of 'Madonna and Child', acted out by real people in the most embarrassing and absurd ways.

Jodorowsky's commentary is relentless. He has a view on everything; from frogs being blown by cherry bombs to castrations, The awful, oh so awful Socialist Germany, tourists, Mickey Mouse, organised religion, The Church, fascism, the 'inversed third person benefits' of Nihilism (what?), The Unblinking Eye, LOTR, deconstructing Jesus (bad taste), genocide, Christ's love interest, his loathing for fiber-glass Christ(s), procreation as Venus rises, post-modern art, commercialism, shit, gas chambers, gas schools, gas apartment complexes, gas universities, arms trade, the impotence of Uranus (Urin-enus; not that this sounds any better), brainwashing by comic books, pythons wearing hand-knit sweaters, George Orwell, Buddha, Sartre, selflessness, free-willy enlightenment, Maslow's 'Self Actualization' through a 'per-rectum', Dolph Lundgren, ancient Chinese martial art films, 'mistakes of Christ'?, Timothy Leary, fake messiahs, tarantulas on buck naked woman, man-boobs breast feeding and on breaking the 'fourth wall' of filming.

In films like these it is better not to delve into the directorial achievements or the performances for it serves no purpose. Even a long focus on a log can induce meaning upon empty meaning.

Plus, why do the 'artists' feel the need to use the Church in such ghastly and extreme ways to further their agenda? If anything, it is in bad taste. One cannot just go around pissing on everything sacred in the name of art. It is simply slapping decency and an extremely popular and personal belief, in the face. And if you cannot resist yourself at least put some back and some substance, a hard-hitting message and Willem Dafoe, Scorsese, Mel Gibson in to it. Something, anything except the dirtiest and greediest man alive to play Jesus.

I hated it more than I loved it; but that's just me, a Rambo fan, wandering off territory.

Yes, 'Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom' is still up there in the favourite films section. Although made two years after this atrocity/masterpiece, Salo says so little, shows even less (compared to other avant-garde projects made around that time) and makes the viewer lose himself in the infinite, crude, unflinching and unapologetic direction of Pasolini, whose Salo is one of the most barked at films ever, for reasons that cannot be deciphered by man, except Pasolini or The Marquis himself.

'The Holy Mountain' is completely stoned and it is the influence that makes it cross borders in to filth and prettiness resulting in a conflict of the allure and the 'Space Oddity'.

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