TV Party Tonight! #30

TV Party Tonight! #30

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017
COLUMN

The Holy Mountain

Blu-ray (Abkco)

 

Writer and director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work truly defies categorization. They are graphic, religious, symbolic, but more than anything else, seek the truth. In that sense they can’t really be brushed off as the work of a mad man. Although one wonders what’s roaming around in Jodorowsky’s head.

 

We’ve covered El Topo already on this site, and as strange as that movie may seem, compared to it the Holy Mountain seems absolutely batshit crazy. But just like El Topo, the Holy Mountain makes more sense the more you watch it. It tells the story of a thief who seeks fortune. Once he encounters an alchemist, he then becomes more interested in spiritual enlightenment and immortality. Accompanied by other people who are personified both by the tarot and planets, they go off on a journey to find and conquer the holy mountain. Yeah, I think that sounds about right. But after an additional viewing, I think I might change my mind.

 

The trick to watching the Holy Mountain is to accept the movie and what it’s going to throw at you. Throughout, the viewer will encounter scenarios that serve to reflect the various evils in our society, our limitations as human beings, our hopes, and our desires. It presents truth as the only thing worth pursuing.

 

We have to applaud Abkco once more for the job they’ve done restoring the Holy Mountain. This blu-ray is packed with extras like a featurette showing the extensive restoration of the footage, some deleted scenes, Jodorowsky explainiung the tarot, and a commentary track by the man himself which truly is essential to understand this movie.

The Holy Mountain is sometimes easy to dissect, other times it’s challenging, or humorous, or straight up baffling, and let’s not even talk about that ending. Just like the characters in this movie, the viewer of the Holy Mountain will come away a different person. Simply mindblowing.

 

Some (spoiling) observations from the commentary:

  • Jodorowksy’s life was threatened in Mexico City due to all the controversy surrounding the filming of this movie. He had to move shop to New York City to finish it.
  • The scene of the American visitors on the Mexican street serves as a representation of American negligence and ignorance to the rest of the world. Even when they are in a foreign land.
  • George Harrison was going to play the thief in this movie. He objected to having his asshole shown on screen and wanted Jodorowsky to take it out. He didn’t want to, so that was that.
  • In the Neptune scene Jodorowksy says it was really hard to find a man with such large genitals to film the castration scene.
  • The coffin houses in the Pluto scene are a real thing now in Asia, though not as extreme.
  • The fears each person faces on while climbing the mountain are representations of the actors’ actual fears. I would have liked reaffirmation when the lady is covered in bull semen.
  • Apparently the shooting was blessed by the rain stopping every time they had to start shooting. It’s why all the locations in the end are cloudy.

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