Director: Alejandro Jodorowky
Screenwriter: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Runtime: 114 mins
Released: Re-released as part of the new Jodorowsky DVD box set.
Robin would be bamboozled. “Holy dead animals on sticks!” he’d say, before drawing a deep breath and continuing on to “Holy waxwork approximations of people!” and “Holy twisted religious ceremonies!” before finally expiring in awe and wonderment at “Holy alchemy of human waste!” And the Boy Wonder wouldn’t be wrong to die of sensory overload after watching Alejandro Jodorowsky’s crazy, beautiful, paroxysmal explosion of sex, death, taxidermy and religion on the big screen.
Holy Mountain is a strange tale of a doppelganger Christ who goes from deserted, soiled transient to fulfilled, whole mystic, (complete with raven-haired girl and chimpanzee) via a crowded South American marketplace, several transgender sexual experiences and spiritual enlightenment. The Alterna-Christ confidently wanders through Mexico City encountering the brazen, the bizarre and the bare-chested, accompanied by his limbless friend, until he climbs (via a skyhook, of course,) a large rectangular tower and meets The Alchemist, who then steers him toward a fate presumably more agreeable than laying in the gutter. Ich Bin Ein Christ meets up with others “of the planets” for the journey, and under The Alchemist’s tutelage they walk up the Holy Mountain and take the place of the old mystics.
This sounds like an amateur adventure with the uncanny, and it is that, but Jodorowsky’s film is so peppered with “fearful symmetry” and even satire that it is hard to categorize Holy Mountain as just another hippy-dippy film trip. The visuals are quite dazzling, as when we are first introduced to The Alchemist and he is flanked by two dead goats while sitting in some kind of magnificent throne. It’s weird but it looks great. And the recurring themes of ritual and bloodthirsty Catholicism burst out of their mothers in a way that’s almost too strange to be borne, such as when the Christ character is used as a mould for dozens of plasterceine copies, and then discarded upon a pile of neeps and tatties as a sort of Potato Pieta. He then goes berserk, thrashing the priests and bishops who subjugated him with a whip before destroying the copies and fleeing the scene with a rage-filled wail. It’s like David Lynch meets Jesus Christ Superstar via Sesame Street and a brutal axe murder. Holy Mountain is deeply, deeply weird, but it’s funny and interesting and oddly sweet too. If you like taxidermy, breasts, police captains who collect testicles and brightly coloured rooms, this is the film for you.