The Holy Mountain (1973): “Real life awaits us.”

the-holy-mountain-laserdisc-artwork1973 was a pretty good year for films. You’ve got The Exorcist, Soylent Green, my second favourite Bond film Live and Let Die, among many other amazing films. Most importantly, you’ve got The Holy Mountain, directed by the one and only Alejandro Jodorowsky. I’m going to borrow a synopsis from IMDb for this one, since it sums this masterpiece up perfectly:

A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful people, each representing a planet in the Solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide’s assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.

I LOVE THIS FILM. I love it so much. It is so weird. There were moments whilst watching it that I just let out a huge exhalation of breath and let the surreal religious imagery wash over me. I knew, as soon as I watched a life-size cake version of Jesus Christ being eaten, that this film would be one of my favourites of all time. It sounds absurd, but as a huge fan of surreal art and film, watching The Holy Mountain was a very visceral and significant experience.

There are moments that are just strange, which might put people off. If I used the phrases tiger nipples and machine vagina in a normal sentence (outside of film world), people would think I was out of it. But, these are the things you are presented with in The Holy Mountain. There is quite a lot of nudity and a whole bunch of sexual scenes and imagery, and many moments that might be considered offensive if you’re religious. But Jodorowsky tackles these themes unflinchingly, to the benefit of the overall film.

I’m going to use this post to display the beautiful cinematography and images that assault you throughout The Holy Mountain. Please watch it if you feel you’re up to the task. It is so strange, but you will not regret it. Alejandro Jodorowsky is a genius and this film is evidence of it. As it says in the trailer, very truthfully: “The Holy Mountain is a film outside the tradition of criticism and review”. This is one of those films you have to experience, not just read about. With that said, on to the beautiful images:

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4.5/5
Watch the trailer here (probably NSFW – there’s a bit of nudity).

19 comments

  1. Haven’t seen this. Haven’t even heard of it before this review. But you’ve piqued my interest.

    I’ll check it out at some point.

    1. I’d recommend watching this film with a nice glass of wine in hand!

  2. scotvalkyrie · · Reply

    I also “reviewed” this movie recently but of course I was much more snarky about it: https://scotvalkyrie.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/tues-12-the-holy-mountain-alejandro-jodorowsky-1973/

    It is a visually fantastic movie!

    1. I love your take on this film! Especially the last point, so true! Looking back on it, the visuals are almost too amazing for words. Luckily Jodorowsky apparently had half of the Beatles bankrolling the film so he was able to make them as fantastic as possible.

      1. scotvalkyrie · · Reply

        As I understand it, George Harrison was quite interested in the lead rims but balked at the lengthy bathing scene.

        1. Imagine if he’d stayed on! I think the film might have been even more of a mindbender.

  3. Hot damn! Those images. Great review, compelling film, lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! I almost could have posted a frame from every scene, it’s all so beautiful/strange.

  4. This film was CRAZY! Great review of a bonkers film

    1. Thanks! I adore this film so much, it certainly is very crazy!

  5. Do you rate this or El Topo higher? I’ve always though El Top to be Jodorowski’s best film, and still do (possibly due to my love of westerns also), but it seems like The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre are making big comebacks.
    Jordan

    1. I think I’m a bit sentimental towards The Holy Mountain because I saw that one first, so I like it a bit more. But I still really love El Topo. I actually haven’t seen Santa Sangre yet! Now I have to add it to the list. 🙂

  6. […] die tomorrow, what would be the last movie you would want to see? On an existential level, I think The Holy Mountain (1973) would be a good film to watch before you die. It’s generally about reaching a higher […]

  7. […] but I’ve decided that I would really love to meet Alejandro Jodorowsky. I just love The Holy Mountain (1973) so much and I want to ask him so many questions about it. He always puts cute things on […]

  8. […] mushrooms before a certain scene in order to get the performance he wanted in his amazing film, The Holy Mountain (1973). I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators of this short film were off their faces on […]

  9. […] exactly how mindblowing his version would have been. Especially given his masterful work on The Holy Mountain (1973) and El Topo (1970). And to think that that kind of film was prevented from coming into […]

  10. Well, well. You may get a kick out of this post (it’s got links to all my Jodo coverage to date, including a couple of interviews with the legend himself): https://indieethos.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/brontis-jodorowsky-on-the-psychomagic-of-dance-of-reality-training-for-dune-and-a-future-with-director-of-tau/

  11. […] of my film taste and what I generally enjoy (i.e. weird, Japanese, historically significant, surreal, visually beautiful), I never really talk about music other than briefly commenting on various film […]

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