Film Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky Retrospective: The Holy Mountain (1973)

This is the film that everyone talks about when they talk about Jodorowsky. Sure it’s a cliche “go-to” title for anyone to throw out there if they are asked about this filmmaker. On one level, it is a great way for someone who doesn’t know a ton about the genre, to pretend in front of  their more knowledgeable friends. At the same time, it is also a great place for anyone interested in these genres to start. The final and biggest response for the popularity of this film is the fact that it is his best work. It is one of the most important films of all time, so even if someone is bullshitting you by throwing this title around, give them props for at least having seen it. It is his masterpiece, and it is a film that I wish would get a super classy release. I think he would be an excellent candidate for Criterion, but I’m sure there is a good reason that it has not happened yet. For now, the Jodorowsky box set is out there. It’s expensive, but completely worth it for an amazing collection of films.

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The Holy Mountain deals with another epic journey. This is a Buddhist-type journey for enlightenment, carried out by a figure that will remind you of Jesus. It also involves an alchemist, which brings a sci-fi/fantasy influence to the film. Like all of his films, the metaphors and allusions transcend genre, religion, and philosophy. This is why I believe that this film was trying to represent the similarities between all of the world religions and philosophies. It also used science and nature, to create the picture of a diverse world in which everyone should strive to co-exist. I have always seen it as a religious film about spirituality. It is respectful of everyone’s beliefs, and tries to teach people how to survive the evils of the real world.

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The people involved in this movie’s pilgrimage all represent different planets. Each of these planets represents a different type of human evil. It is here where Jodorowsky begins to mix  religious imagery with disturbing sacrilegious imagery. The universal evils represented on the planets draw influence from past literature and surely influenced the future of film and literature. It draws on The Divine Comedy as well as the biblical seven deadly sins. It even predicts the darkness of the future in a way that Ray Bradbury so beautifully created in Farenheit 451. The planet that involves the creation of the perfect human body, really stands out for me in this regard. It talks about butt and calf implants, looking beyond the idea of regular plastic surgery that would eventually become a reality. It even discusses concepts used in everyone’s favorite film, Face-off. Well not really, but kinda.

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This is the one! It is his best film, and one of the best ever made. It is a film that I re-watch all of the time. I am also always re-learning and re-analyzing. I am constantly finding new allusions, metaphors, and theories in this work of true cinematic art. I absolutely refuse to walk you through the entire plot. It will ruin the experience, and this truly is an experience. This needs to be a film that you watch and feel. You need to approach the film with an open mind and be ready to have it completely blown.

Author: Steven Paul

Born and raised in Michigan, slowly dying in Florida. I’m here to keep you informed about everything in the world of indie horror. I also specialize in all genres of exploitation, cult, and extreme cinema. As part owner and Editor of Film and Television for Beneath the Underground, it is my responsibility to provide vast amounts of information for the horror fan and an outlet for the filmmaker.

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