Film review: 'Holy Mountain' thumbs nose at 'staid' audiences

Published: Friday, July 13 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN — * 1/2 — Horacio Salinas, Alexandro Jodorowsky; in English and Spanish, with English subtitles; not rated, probable NC-17 (nudity, violence, gore, sex, vulgarity, drugs)

Alexandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" is one of those cult-classic midnight movies like David Lynch's "Eraserhead" (1977) and John Boorman's "Zardoz" (1974) — films that pretty much defy easy description or criticism. But at least it's fun to try to wrap your head around those two films.

There are places in "The Holy Mountain" — a lot of places, in fact — where Jodorowsky's 1973 surreal fantasy is just too much to dig through.

Also, scenes of animal cruelty, frank sexuality and religious skepticism make this one for only the most broad-minded audiences.

As with Jodorowsky's other films, "Holy Mountain" is filled with material that's both sacred and profane. Symbolism and allegories, both religious and metaphysical, dominate. Clearly this was conceived under the influence of something — be it legal or illegal.

The film starts with nearly dialogue-free sequences featuring an unnamed thief (Horacio Salinas) who resembles the most popular images of Jesus. As he wanders from one bizarre scene to another, the thief finally makes his way to an alchemist (Jodorowsky), who gets the real story moving along.

The alchemist introduces the thief to other seekers of the truth, thus uniting them in their search for a mountain that may contain the answers to their various metaphysical questions.

Even if you're following things up to that point, you're bound to get lost in the all the astrological, psychological (Jungian and Freudian) and other babblings that follow, as well as strained attempts at farcical humor.

That the whole thing is topped off with a final, nose-thumbing, fourth-wall-breaking sequence is just plain infuriating.

Jodorowsky's contempt for supposedly "square" or "staid" audiences has never been more obvious than it is here.

"The Holy Mountain" is not rated but would probably receive an NC-17 for full male and female nudity, graphic scenes of slaughter (including animal torture and cruelty), some graphic gore, simulated sex and other sex acts, vulgar sexual and scatological humor and references, and drug use and references (hallucinogens). Running time: 114 minutes.


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