As I said in my review of his new film THE DANCE OF REALITY, Alejandro Jodorowsky is a filmmaker more frequently written about than watched (hell, he’s been written about four times in the past month in these very pages). This is more due to circumstance than any fault of the films or the moviegoing public; his best films were unavailable for over thirty years, and seem to have fallen back out of print. He is also a very easy figure to talk about, given his legendary accomplishments in pretty much every artistic medium and outsized, intensely charismatic persona (as filmmakers go, only Werner Herzog rivals Jodorowsky for sheer number of insane anecdotes). Indeed, Jodorowsky is such a beloved topic for film buffs that it’s easy to feel well-versed without seeing a single frame of his work.
But know this: no matter what you’ve read, no matter what you’ve heard, nothing can adequately prepare you for the experience of seeing THE HOLY MOUNTAIN on the big screen. You can make a bullet list of memorable images from the film – the hall of testicles, the turd-to-gold alchemy, the iconically symmetrical shot of Jodorowsky flanked by a pair of naked, bald women – but what a list doesn’t convey is that every single frame is like that. Every. Single. Frame. There is literally not a single moment in THE HOLY MOUNTAIN that does not contain something gorgeous and inexplicable and hilarious and unsettling. Hell, there might not even be a moment that contains only one. The trailer’s narration dryly intones, “Nothing in your education or your experience could have prepared you for this film.” That is not hyperbole. That is empirical fact.
It helps that Jodorowsky was working with a budget rare in the world of experimental film. John Lennon had had his mind blown at one of EL TOPO’s fabled midnight screenings, and ordered his Mephistophelian manager Allen Klein to track down Jodorowsky and bestow an ungodly amount of money toward his next film. That relationship would backfire a few years down the road, when Klein withdrew all of Jodorowsky’s films in retribution for the filmmaker’s refusal to adapt THE STORY OF O, but without Klein’s money, it is unlikely Jodorowsky could have afforded nearly as many pygmy hippopotomi.
In closing, I will just say this: toward the end of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, there is a smash cut to a shirtless old man screaming maniacally in a field, with a tiger head on each nipple vomiting milk onto another man. Those five seconds are COMPLETELY REPRESENTATIVE of the rest of the film. If you’ve never seen THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, you obviously need to go see it. If you have seen it, then you know you need to go see it. What are you waiting for? PULL BACK, CAMERA!
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973) Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky
Friday, 6/6 & Saturday, 6/7, 11:59 PM
Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446