Alejandro Jodorowsky/Mexico 1973
“I wanted to enlighten the public. I am crazy.” – Alejandro Jodorowsky presenting The Holy Mountain at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City on Oct. 7.
The Holy Mountain is a trip: Blood flows as red ribbons or a stream of delicate birds. A sanctuary of testicles is completed at its 1000th pair. Shit turns into gold and immortality is simply a camera trick.
After 30 years of bootleg copies and dubious distributions, The Holy Mountain has been released from the hands of a so-called monster. No more fuzzy dots over pubic hair or bad PAL transfers from discolored Italian imports. If you have ever seen The Holy Mountain before, but were too young or not entirely hip and/or with the underground scene in 1973, you’ve likely experienced a VHS copy with fixed foreign subtitles or the Japanese bootleg with aforementioned fuzzy dots blurring out pubic hair. While there may be some romanticism (and perhaps elitism) attached to these louche releases – in that it’s just that underground – watching The Holy Mountain in a dark theater and on a gloriously widescreen as the Walter Reade’s, is like seeing it for the first time. Remastered with gorgeous color, Jodorowsky’s psychadelic masterpiece breathes anew.
The success of his previous feature, El Topo (1971), as a consistent late night staple at the Elgin Theatre in New York, had circumscribed Jodorowsky’s work in the genre of “midnight movie”; El Topo and The Holy Mountain as “cult classics”. While some of the basic themes and imagery of The Holy Mountain and especially El Topocoincide with our conceptions of these terms – particularly in their use of violence, visual non sequiturs and abnormal human figures – a film like The Holy Mountain points to something more spiritual and perhaps theatrical in its unloading of imagery.