Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
A visionary spectacle that journeys through a surreal commentary/ satire of society, religion, materialism, and art.
The majority of this film is like a cinematic journey through an abstract art gallery, and was definitely an experience that leaves me with a mixed bag of emotions.
While there is strong, sometimes violent imagery in the film, it never goes too far and maintains a light and sometimes comedic tone that helps you not take it too seriously. For example there are mass executions at the start of the film but instead of using blood, you see colorful paint. There is a castration scene, but then you are instantly brought to this bizarre shrine room filled with hundreds of jared testicles.... yup, it is that kind of movie.
The start of the film has a lot of imagery of Jesus that is artsy and at times off putting. So I would be wary of watching if you are easily offended about the perversion of religious imagery.
Really this film could be broken down shot for shot and I can not even imagine trying to understand it all after a single viewing.
It ends up feeling like an artists experimental stream of consciousness, were if Jodorowsky was a painter we would be seeing him test out a little of one color and then another all while we are just going for the ride. And that is my biggest issue with the film, the overall experience is simply a journey through all this weirdness that is up for interoperation which leaves the overall narrative a little thin.
BTW: There is also a lot of male and female nudity, including little boys and older an women.
The is definitely not the average movie lovers cup of tea, but it you like awesome cinematography mixed with some psychedelic imagery than this is an art house film experience you will want to go on for yourself.
Technical and possible spoiler talk ahead:
I mentioned the imagery is all over the place, and so it the music in an awesome way. In the opening scene we get this middle eastern vibe.. but then later on we get this wild 70's style jazz with a blazing trumpet wailing away. I found these contrasting styles very enjoyable but noticed they seemed to fade away toward the third act of the film.
The story revolves around this Alchemist or a shaman that comes across this Thief character who looks like Jesus. The Alchemist cleans him up a bit and introduces him to these seven capitalist figures including an economist, police state leader, toy/propaganda creator, a weapons maker, and a sexual art creator just to name a few. They gather together, burn their money and set off on a quest to achieve enlightenment at the Holy Mountain by replacing a round table of hooded figures. Turns out The Alchemist set all of this up and the monks are not real and we get this 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' style ending where we go thru the fourth wall and see the film crew at the request of The Alchemist who is played by Jodorowsky as he lets us know that is just a film/art and we will not go back to reality with our thoughts and interpretations of his work.
Some of the standout imagery for me would have to be the rainbow hallway we see the Thief enter into after he climbs the tower where the Alchemist is. Of course the opening scene where the alchemist is in a patterned white room stripping down these two women's makeup, hair, and clothes.
There is a scene were an older lady is on this raised up toilet, but is complaining that this tiny window on the ceiling is too big. The mass of soldiers that are in a formation around the guy that gets castrated.
The crazy frog and lizard circus where the frogs are dressed up as conquistadors and they are invading the mayan or aztec native lizards .. complete with thick blood drenching them all by the end of the little show. A naked guy covered in tarantulas, a naked old guy whose chest turns into these jaguars spraying milk. Then we get all this eye ball imagery in the first section of the film, but that does not go anywhere other than this creepy guy that pops out a fake eye and gives it to this girl that appears to be junior prostitute.
There is also this sequence where we see this huge room with glass floors and we watch these people walking around and it looks amazing! Even the vastness of the mountain climbing scenes, going thru sunny valleys and blizzard like conditions is fantastic. There are just so many memorable scenes!
And as abstract as the first half of the film is, by the end the whole team is wearing these very practical blue wind breaker jackets at the end when they reach the climax.
Now it is time to dive into a deep pool of youtube analysis on this film to see what others thought.. comment below if you would like to share any stand out moments from your journey thru the Holy Mountain.