Its probably best to sit through Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films and not think too much, but that’s something that I just can’t seem to do. Watching The Holy Mountain had my mind racing through every scene, bewildered at the subject and absurdity of it all but also marveling at the visual aesthetic beauty before my eyes. It didn’t make any sense and probably wasn’t supposed to anyway but its a mindfuck nonetheless. I can see why John Lennon was so up on this shit he had Allen Klein fund Jodorowsky for this. Epic is one way to think of Holy Mountain.

The Alchemist as the film opens.

The film is sort of based on a book by Rene Daumal, Mount Analogue and takes the basic framework of a pseudo spiritual ascension up a mountain and the travails that follow it. The start of the show plays out like some sort of psuedo allegory to the last days of Christ almost. It focuses on a single, barely dressed man (The Thief) who befriends a limbless dwarf and proceeds to try to make a living in the city, presumably somewhere in South America. Because he looks like the stereotypical image of Christ, some fat dudes dressed like romans decide to get him drunk and proceed to make a mould out of him to make Christ figurines for profit. The Thief wakes up mad, smashes some fake Christs and then goes on some kind of last walk, carrying one fake Christ like a cross as he gets followed by a bunch of prostitutes, one of them with a monkey in tow. He then gets into a quarrel of sorts with a priest and gets chased away. Respondent, he then turns to eating the wax figurine he had been carrying, before he floats up on balloons that appeared outta nowhere.

After his ascension, The Thief spots a huge tower and gets inside, intent on finding its secrets. There he meets The Alchemist, played by Jodorowsky himself in some Shinto X frute swag attire. They fight but The Alchemist keeps winning. He then decides to take The Thief on as a disciple and introduces him to 7 other people, with whom they would ascend the titular Holy Mountain in order to ascertain the secrets of the gods. Each one of the 7 is a certified asshole, including war mongerers, moguls and politicians. They train together in preparation for the ascension, going through trial after trial, in the hope of achieving immortality.

The Alchemist & The Thief: Not a Stereophonics song.

Eventually, they leave for Holy Mountain on a boat, get sidetracked by a mad place called the Pantheon Bar, which is filled with people who got distracted from the ultimate goal of climbing to the mountain’s peak, where it is said, a group of 9 wise men reside. The group’s plan is to usurp the power the wise men have and they get the fuck out of the bar, proceeding through more trials and tribulations, both mental and physical until they finally get to the summit.

By this point, my eyes were slapped by a myriad of unbelievable images. One sideshow has geckos dressed in traditional Aztec garb getting attacked by frogs, representing the conquistadors. They fight in a scale model city before everything gets blown to bits. Another scene has got policemen in gas masks dancing with commoners. There’s also a scene where The Thief defecates into a container and The Alchemist turns it into gold. Yet, Jodorowsky keeps even more up his sleeve by the time the film reaches its conclusion.

A naked woman stimulating a robot with a phallus until it experiences an orgasm of noise and movement.

Compared to El Topo, The Holy Mountain is similar in that both films are allegorical, symbolical, pseudo religious, trippy hippy films. Yet, El Topo could respectfully contain a narrative almost. The Holy Mountain has such a loose narrative, with each portion of the film almost seemingly its own story almost. Its supposed to be one complete journey but you end up going everywhere else instead. Which I suppose ultimately relates to what Jodorowsky was getting at towards the end.

Maybe there is a Holy Mountain. If I could find and ascend it, I might attain some kind of immortality or superpower. Or maybe there isn’t and there’s nothing to gain in the first place. Maybe all I’ll gain is knowledge, that I was a fool to begin with but the journey was still a beautiful, memorable one.