Written, produced, directed, co-scored, and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky (director of EL TOPO), THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973) is a cult classic and one of my film holy grails. I finally scored a copy, and wow, what a trip. The film is a psychedelic allegory of humanity’s search for meaning, distraction into materialism and extreme politics, and spiritual war to conquer oneself, and concludes with an admonition to live an authentic life free of artificial restraint.
The film begins with The Thief, who goes into the city to make money. Finding a mysterious tower where gold is lowered on a basket in exchange for food, he scales the tower to confront the Alchemist, who takes the Thief’s excrement and turns it into gold but promises that since the Thief himself is excrement, he too can be transformed. The Thief must choose gold or enlightenment, and he chooses to apprentice to the Alchemist, who gathers a group of highly successful people representing the worst traits astrologically associated with the nine planets. They destroy their wealth and travel to the Holy Mountain, where they will overturn the immortals who run the universe and take their place. Or so they’re told…
This movie is one hell of a trip. There’s very little dialogue, with an emphasis on the score and stunning, artistic sets, every piece of which is beautiful, provocative, and spiritually symbolic as related to the Tarot, astrology, or metaphysics. Thematically, you can’t get much higher with its spiritual journey and final message. Going into it, I wondered it would be pretentious, too artsy and slow, and incomprehensible. Instead, I was presented a beautiful exploration of metaphysical spirituality with mind-blowing sets, bizarre set pieces, and solid pacing.
I haven’t seen this film streaming anywhere, I had to score it on DVD. If you can get a copy, I highly recommend it, though it’s not for everyone.