Monday, October 27, 2014

The Holy Mountain




Written, directed, co-edited, co-scored, set/costume designed, and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Holy Mountain is the story of a mysterious man who gathers a group of people together on a journey for spiritual enlightenment inside a mountain. The film is an exploration into the world of spirituality and existentialism presented in a surrealistic world with many questions filled with dazzling images with Jodorowsky playing the role of the Alchemist. Also starring Horacio Salinas and Zamira Saunders. The Holy Mountain is a mystical yet enchantingly odd film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The film is a bizarre story about a thief whose encounter with spiritual images has him meeting a mysterious alchemist who takes him into a journey with a group of people into a mountain in a quest for spiritual enlightenment. While it’s a film that doesn’t have much of a plot, it is more about the journey of this nameless thief (Horacio Salinas) who is this strange beggar troubled by his surroundings and encounters with spirituality as he finds salvation in this mysterious alchemist (Alejandro Jodorowsky). Even as he is forced to leave behind the things in his life that he had been attached to from a kind-hearted prostitute (Ana de Sade) and mutilated dwarf.

The film’s screenplay does have this loose structure where the first act is about the journey of this thief who leads a simple life where he’s a man of chaos that just wants gold and simple things as he looks like Jesus Christ. Upon this encounter with a mysterious tower and the alchemist, the film’s second act is about the alchemist and the seven people that will join them on this journey to the Holy Mountain which takes much of the film’s third act. In that third act, temptation and fears would emerge as it plays into the question about spiritual enlightenment and what do people want from enlightenment. Especially as the people he bring in are those that come from worlds of profit that has made them lose touch with spirituality and the real world.

Jodorowsky’s direction definitely plays to the idea of surrealism as he makes no qualms that everything he is presenting isn’t just weird and strange but it is beyond that in terms of his presentation. Shot in a 2:35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, Jodorowsky’s direction is definitely mesmerizing in the way he shoots many of the locations and the sets he creates as it plays into a world that is very spiritual and off-the-wall. The look of the film is very important as it often features images that are circular from the rooms that the alchemist is in as well as its surroundings as Jodorowsky wanted every amount of detail captured in these rooms. Even as the costumes that are created by Jodorowsky and Nicky Nichols play into this look where its third act has many of its characters wear monk-like clothing that are very strange.

The film’s direction also has Jodorowsky use the locations in Mexico as one that is very rich but also troubling where he isn’t afraid to play into some of its poorer locations to showcase the sense of desperation from the people in seeking salvation. There’s also locations that do play into its beauty such as the mountain as well as some of its mystical elements where Jodorowsky and co-editor Federico Landeros would use a lot of jump-cuts to play into its mystery. Even in some of the sequences involving the seven figures who would join the thief, the alchemist, and the alchemist’s assistant (Zamira Saunders) in their journey. With its use of wide shots and close-ups, Jodorowsky creates something that plays into a world that is very spiritual as well as overwhelming where it plays to the fool’s own encounter as he is the one that is tempted the most with the emotional baggage that he is carrying. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a very sprawling yet engrossing film about the search for spiritual enlightenment.

Cinematographer Rafael Corkidi does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography to heighten the film‘s colorful look from its naturalistic beauty of some of the film‘s location to the look of some of its interiors. Sound editor Howard Lester and sound mixer C. Robert Fine do fantastic work with the sound as it plays into some of the strange sound effects that occur to some of the craziness in some of the film‘s locations. The film’s music that is supervised by Al Steckler features an array of many score pieces and compositions such as original score pieces from Jodorowsky that features a lot of strange instrumental pieces plus some flute-based music. The other score pieces include some jazz-based pieces from Don Cherry and some classical-inspired cuts from Ronald Frangipane as the film‘s soundtrack is a major highlight of the film.

The film’s excellent cast include some notable small roles from Zamira Saunders as the alchemist’s assistant who sports written tattoos on her body and Ana de Sade as the prostitute the thief is in love with. In the roles of the seven followers who each represent a different planet and trade, there’s Juan Ferrara, Adriana Page, Burt Kleiner, Valerie Jodorowsky, Luis Lomeli, Nicky Nichols, and Richard Rutkowsky as they each bring their own unique spin into the personalities they play. Horacio Salinas is superb as the thief as this simple fool who is searching for answers in his role in life while dealing with the sacrifices he must take. Finally, there’s Alejandro Jodorowsky in an amazing performance as the alchemist as this very strange individual who holds the key to many answers as it’s a role that is really off-the-wall yet so engaging as it’s just a performance that is unforgettable to watch.

The Holy Mountain is a ravishing yet extremely bizarre film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. While it will feature many images and sequences that is definitely not for everyone, it’s a film that explores the idea of spiritual identity and enlightenment as well as some of its fallacies. Even in the oddest circumstances that is supported by dazzling imagery and a hypnotic music soundtrack. In the end, The Holy Mountain is a sensational film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: La Cravate - Teatro sin fin - Fando y Lis - El Topo - Tusk (1980 film) - Santa Sangre - The Rainbow Thief - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky

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