El Trippo: Jodorowsky’s HOLY MOUNTAIN
Alejandro Jodorowsky directed, wrote, produced, co-scored, co-edited, STARRED, AND worked on the sets and costumes for THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. Take THAT, ghost of Orson Welles!
Jodorowsky has an odd kind of fame now, known by many as the guy who planned a movie of DUNE in the seventies but evil studios were reluctant to spend millions on an insane mix of hippie sensibility, druggy imagery, doglike aliens that watch the movie in the ruinds of a devastated planet, and Salvador Dali being played by an inflatable Salvador Dali.
A lot of people weep for this movie being aborted in utero. It would be interesting to see Jodorowsky’s vision on-screen…I guess. Having seen the documentary about it, AJ’s DUNE would have been the most self-indulgent unintentional laugh-fest since ONLY GOD FORGIVES.
Jodorowsky, and I think I spelled it right this time, is certainly creative and has made some decent movies (SANTE SANGRE), but he was at his peak in the seventies after EL TOPO became the Midnight Movie of the era. THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is AJ at his peak, with as much spritual mumbo jumbo as EL TOPO but a more straightforward narrative. OK, relatively more straightforward.
We meet several Types, not really characters, and see their various walks of life in an off-kilter world of plastic and capitalism. If you’re watching a South American movie, you’re gonna run into the director’s socialist fantasies. Just don’t touch his residuals or you’ll see how true to their socialist ideals these guys are. (Hint: NOT AT ALL!)
EL TOPO was a bloody combination of Leone western and 70’s pop philosophy and sweaty self-love. A huge midnight hit in the day, I tried watching it recently and bailed out. And I spent a lot of money on that damned boxed set!
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is pure, undiluted seventies New Age Los Angeles hot tub philosophy–funny how an anti-capitalist can pull that off, isn’t it? It’s almost like all that ‘spirituality’ stuff is bullshit, no matter where it comes from.
One of the sources of inspiration for the screenplay Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing by Rene Daumal (1908–1944), a French surrealist. The spiritual journey in the second half of the movie is not bound by Daumal’s book, though: he never finished it, writing it right until the day he died.
It’s a spiritual quest that leads to the holy mountain, atop which…is an ending you could only pull off once in a movie. SOMEONE had to use the ending AJ cooked up. It’s surprising that no one tried it before this, but I’m glad someone got it out of the way.
If you watch only one AJ movie, make it THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. It’s visually interesting, it’s goofy, and the ending will either get you to kick the screen in or you’ll laugh, and at the same time admire this guy’s confidence. Jodorowsky stands for something vague and spiritual, and he can express it on film. We need that kind of movie.