Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Holy Mountain

Some of the themes and imagery of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" are reminiscent of Bunuel, run through a Roger Corman meat grinder. Excremental, absurdly sexual, violent (with blood supplied by Sherwin Williams), this is the cinematic equivalent of a Butthole Surfer concert. Grotesquely compelling, image piles upon image - I reached satiety just shy of the halfway mark, but stayed with it until the end.

The story, such as it is, involves an alchemist who assembles 9 archetypal characters for a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain, with the intention of gaining power and immortality by displacing the old gods. The journey is both physical and mystical, a rite of initiation. The central figure, from the viewer's perspective, is a thief - a Christ figure who carries around as his spiritual/psychological double a deformed figure with truncated limbs. He is followed by a prostitute and a chimp. In one of many sacrilegious images, the alchemist's assistant, with long stiletto nails, washes the thief's anus. If you are anxiously awaiting the next Indiana Jones movie, this film probably isn't for you.

I found the end to be a bit of a cop-out, but it was perhaps the logical (logical?) conclusion. All in all, if you enjoy surreal imagery and aren't afraid of the grotesque and disgusting (please take note of these caveats), this film is a must-see.

"The Holy Mountain" is available through Netfix, or from Amazon if you wish to add to your permanent collection of extreme cinema.

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