The Holy Mountain (1973)

holy mountain poster 1973 movie alexandro jodorowsky
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 10/10

One of the trippiest movies you'll see

Plot is largely incidental and interpretational

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Holy Mountain

Studio:  ABKCO Films/Producciones Zohar

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  May 1973 (Cannes)/November 29, 1973 (US)/July 11, 1975 (Mexico)

MPAA Rating:  R

holy mountain thief horacio salinas crucifix

Can a man walk down the street with a crucifix version of himself without attracting a crowd of prostitutes and a chimp?

A man (Horacio Salinas) finds himself on a path of enlightenment.  Having left the desert, he is used as a model for crucifixes and taken in by the alchemist (Alejandro Jodorowsky) who takes him under his wing.  With seven other people who each represent a planet, they are out to find the Holy Mountain and the peace of mind and direction it can give them.  The journey is long, but the reward could be eternal.

Written and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Holy Mountain (La montaña sagrada) is a Mexican surreal fantasy philosophical film.  It is based on the Saint John of the Cross treatise Ascent of Mount Carmel which was written approximately 1578 to 1579 and Mount Analogue by René Daumal published in 1952.  Following Jodorowsky’s El Topo in 1970, the film was produced by The Beatles manager Allen Klein due to John Lennon and George Harrison’s support of El Topo.  The film premiered at Cannes and quickly became a cult classic.

holy mountain venus sex tester machine

Can you pleasure this “box”? Early video games were weird…

I’ve seen El Topo and I’ve seen Santa Sangre, and I know that Jodorowsky is a complete trip.  You can’t go into the films with any expectations (except the promise of unique visuals).  While both El Topo and Santa Sangre are “trippy”, The Holy Mountain takes it to another level.

The story is pretty much non-existence and completely interpretational.  There is very little dialogue or direction (so write-ups of the “plot” might be necessary).  The basic concept of enlightenment is understandable, but the pieces and characters involved in this path are rather oblique and hard to pin down.  This means that you are pretty much just along for the crazy, crazy ride…and like the characters, you take from it what you bring into it.

The acting is generally rather stogy.  This is also the case of El Topo, and rather than the employment of actors who aren’t capable, it feels like a stylistic choice by Jodorowsky (who plays the alchemist himself).  They are put through the ringer and forced to give it all in, and you have to respect the actors in that sense (Jodorowsky had the actors go to spiritual sessions and taught multiple theories of philosophy and religion to prepare).

holy mountain axon neptune castration room testicles richard rutowsky

I welcome you to my room of testicles, my newly castrated friend!!!

Once again, Jodorowsky outdoes himself visually.  The visuals are sickening, amazing, and everything in between.  There is a lot of use of characters with congenital disorders and it does feel exploitive at points (but there is also no judgment toward the characters so at the same time it feels inclusive).  It is beyond surreal and one of the strangest movies you will see.

Like El Topo and Jodorowsky’s other films, The Holy Mountain has to be seen to be understood.  This movie feels a bit different than some of his other works, but the themes are continuous.  It feels a bit more like Pier Paolo Pasolini’s work with things like The Trilogy of Life films (more so than Salo) not only with the nudity and sex but the general feel.  Jodorowsky followed The Holy Mountain with Tusk in 1980 after a failed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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