Jerry McGlothlin’s review published on Letterboxd:
“To know, to dare, to want, to keep silent...”
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surrealist, sensorial insanityfest The Holy Mountain is tantalizing, resplendent and emblematic. An astonishing achievement in filmmaking, it is one of the most imposing and chasmic cinematic works ever made. Told almost exclusively through rich symbolism and visual metaphors to form a comprehensive, multi-layered filmic allegory for topics ranging from religion, astrology and colonialism, to the human condition, alchemy, Tarot and more. Transformative splendor juxtaposed with uncanny nefariousness; the bizarre use and frequent subversion of religious, Western and astrological imagery serves to not only critique these constructs, but also to examine them for an internal spiritual truth. Through faith in self, awareness and sacrifice, mankind can reach immortality. To attain infinite riches and happiness; we believe these to be our goals. But what we truly desire lies within us—deep down inside our souls—and it’s up to the individual to find it. Shed the ego. Let go of your fears and become free. Reborn.
Produced and funded in part by Allen Klein, John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Jodorowsky was basically given carte blanche throughout the entire filmmaking process from shooting through post-production and the result is stunning. A true a spectacle to bear witness to.
He stretches the film’s modest budget of $750,000 well past what should be possible for that amount. The scope is vast, the style is grand and oh, so beautifully strange. Despite its two-hour runtime, the film is perfectly paced and completely engulfs the viewer in it’s visual symbolism. So much so, that the length feels much shorter than it actually is. Immaculate set and costume design, amazing practical effects and Jodorowsky’s theoretical, free-form, balls out approach to storytelling and overall atmosphere meld together to create a heightened sensory experience that, to such an extent, is seldom found in cinema.
Steeped in controversy and extremely divisive, The Holy Mountain is a picture that touches you like no other, regardless of whether the impression it leaves makes you feel good, bad or somewhere in between. There is an odyssey. A supreme adventure these characters embark on and Jodorowsky insists that the audience go along for the ride. He pulls us in with the cosmic aura, iconoclastic images and consistently-provocative viscera. Through the deconstruction of spiritual and Westernized hypocrisies, Jodorowsky guides us towards the discovery of our true selves—the God and purity within—uncorrupted by evil, greed or any other worldly temptations; seeking only peace and beauty in intrapersonal certitude. Plummeting into the vastness of knowledge, both of the self and of our surroundings, reveling in every second of the life we have been given and becoming one with the world.