June 10, 2022

The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain
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We're on something of a hiatus this week but a few months ago Dan and I watched something a little bit different...
I'm probably not going out on a limb when I suggest that Chilean surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973) is not for everyone. Here is the plot as regurgitated using excerpts from my notes:
Twin girls in white are undressed and have their heads shaved while the drums on the soundtrack try to break my skull. Stuffed goats adorn a throne room that's painted like a Dulux colour chart. A hippo is in the bath. Jesus who was stoned to death by children has been revived by a man who has no arms or legs who then rolls a spliff for him. The conquest of Mexico is re-enacted using Toads and Iguanas. In a factory, artists produce masterpieces by using their naked painted asses. A mechanical penis and vagina about 2 metres tall does sexy things. A well-dressed woman leading the military explains that a computer is fed data about wars and revolutions which in turn tells the government what to do, for example creating toys to condition children from birth to hate Peru and become machines of war.
An alchemist can turn faeces into gold by vaporising it and breathing in the fumes.
A man in silk pyjamas with a face mask is being spanked by a chubby woman riding a mechanical horse. Children dressed as mickey mouse in a house like Swiss cheese; a man like a jedi, bearded, the kids celebrate him. They make purposefully shitty condos; at a huge meeting, the jedi speaks of conditioning people to work while an ice sculpture of a penis is brought in.
An old lady wielding a bloody soaked sword in a tree made of chickens, she castrates a man. Another man is covered in tarantulas and screams.

Under a tarpaulin a naked hermaphrodite jizzes milk from his tiger tits.
That's really just a snapshot of this experimental film which relies heavily on symbolism, a great deal of which flew way over my head. A loose narrative does emerge from the chaos which sees a group of people representing the planets - or perhaps the actual planets themselves, that seems equally plausible - ascend to the summit of the Holy Mountain in order to kill the Immortals and steal their secrets. An insane and often quite beautiful movie, when it's not completely and overwhelmingly oppressive that is, there's often incredible creativity and imagination on screen as we veer from one darkly comic scene of psychedelia to the next. Unforgettable.

 In an alternate universe somewhere, Jodorowsky made a version of DUNE. I would love to see that!


The Holy Mountain

Dan: last time we did a pod, like this week, we were talking about a film, the or the big heat. And we said, well, we won't do another film new or well, We'll do something slightly different. And this was is, as different. as You could possibly get from not just film the war.

any film ever really there's not many like this, you may, maybe we can talk about a few later, but this is an art house movie.

I guess that, that just goes everywhere.

Reegs: Yeah, this is the holy mountain. Alejandro Jada Roskies surrealist masterpiece, I guess.

19 73,


Dan: Technicolor.

Reegs: Yes. Yeah, this is right up front. You're going to have to say, this is probably not the kind of film that is for everybody. It will buy turns, offend discussed but you will also laugh and possibly be bored and yeah, there's all sorts going on in this one, it starts with a car coffin.

It's kind of th there's two. Well, have they twins, two girls

Dan: Yeah, they look, they look like sisters or twins, and they're both um

Reegs: in Y and it's it's. The star is kind of representative because it's this incredible sort of black and white. Tablo type thing set up with this guy all in black and these girls all in white and these incredible sets and he takes their clothes off and then shaved their heads and all the, while there's sort of this car cacophonous drumming, it's like gets to the point of being like you're squirming.

And you'll see,

Dan: kind of. It might be uncomfortable, I guess, because that's what it does It's with that sound, those visuals very it wasn't smooth, there w there was kind of cuts. weren't there where they, did the hair quickly. And and there was a scene where they're pouring a a jug, very elaborately and some water and things, and it, it, you quickly.

The message. This film was wasn't going to follow a straight path.

Reegs: No. Although out of the chaos, there is a kind of narrative that emerges strangers. It is

Dan: you you need, you need to hunt for that. Don't you're you can't. Yeah. It's

Reegs: we get I'm going to call this character. Jesus. Cause it basically is Jesus. He's got flies on his face, his face, and then he's revived by a man who has no arms and no legs.

Roles, Imma giant spliff that he enjoys after having been stoned back to life by some children.

Dan: And, And they just keeps on common scenes. like this, doesn't it?

Reegs: Yeah. Well then there's a reenactment of the conquest of Mexico, I guess. But it's done using toad stressed is the colonial colonial colonialists and like iguanas on a small scale replica of kind of match ups to.

Dan: Yeah. they've, they've dressed them all up in all kind of foggy uniforms and it will lizard. send things to make him look like they were, and there was a lot of, animal use in this film, which nowadays you just wouldn't do what they've done but in those days they did And they we, you know, there was hippos tigers. at offense.

Reegs: Yeah At one point, the, the Jesus is being washed in a sort of bath while a baby hippo wanders around with them.

I think that's where we get a gratuitous shot of his bum hole

Dan: not The only one though, there's loads of bamo shots in this and there's loads of you know, all naughty bits, to be honest, that everything's on show just about in every five or 10 minutes. scene, there's going to be some nudity.

Reegs: Yes.

Yeah. There's a tremendous amount of nudity and, and violence, although it's not, not always exactly what it seems.

Sometimes people will fall to the floor and birds will fly out of their chests.

Dan: Yeah, And this is what I actually really liked about this, The symbolism and the metaphors that he uses. There's so many times you could stop this and just say that that's a piece of art there. you know, just Put put it on pause. It's like having of art in your, in your room.

Reegs: yeah, because we haven't stressed that it looks astonishingly beautiful.

Every scene is like this incredible Tableau at one point he goes into a room that is like, I can only describe as being like the ju Lux color.

Yeah. And in there he fights, I think God, the Alchemist while a camel is in the background But it looks beautiful even though it's really strange.

So even if you're bored by what's happening, there's something to look at or enjoy or

Dan: Oh, just yeah.

Reegs: laugh at because it does make you laugh as well.

Dan: quiet. Yeah. I mean, it's got quite a few. just Totally bizarre scenes. You can imagine when they're talking about what's next, there were no bad ideas. There was one scene where he turns his shit into gold.

So he climbs up the massive tower. And he then.

Reegs: Well, he greets the Alchemist at the top and that's Alejandro Jada Roski, the director of the movie as well.

Dan: Yeah. And who who who's playing this kind of the, the main man there, the God the Alchemist who can turn shit into gold and and they do this.


Reegs: Well, he does it.

I mean, it's, we shouldn't skip over how he does it. So he does a shit into a bowl.

Dan: Yeah. If anybody wants to try this at home and follow these instructions carefully weeks where you

Reegs: Yeah. So, and then he puts it in like a vaporizer and he sort of distills the shit with a load of liquid and he's sitting in a chamber while he breeds in the fumes of, of the feces.

And then they do that a few times and each time it refines it and refines it and refines it until eventually it creates. A gold nugget, huge

Dan: Yeah. It kind of seeps off him.

There's this liquid, that goes then into a kind of mulching or pot or something. And and there, we have this nugget of gold and he's very pleased that. he can, he can do this

Reegs: but it becomes apparent that actually this is part of a story about planet.

So never really sure whether these were literal other planets or the, or the planets being represented through the tarot cards that you see numerous times through the thing. But anyway, we're introduced to a number of different characters. Some of these bits of. There's one an art factory where they use like naked assays with paint on to produce paintings.

There's one there's living works of art and there's great jazz playing while they molest the statues. And he pokes his finger up the guy's ass. There's a love machine that was like the big, it was like a blue cube and it was described as being a. It was a blue elect, electronic cube and a mechanical vagina.

And the penis tries to open it up and a chauffeur can't do it. So the woman, a naked woman prods it and opens it up and the machine explodes into life. And then fluids everywhere.

Dan: which By this point, we've become,

totally, I'm used to that. The fact that naked women are just turning up and in all kinds of scenes.

and doing all kinds of shots and blokes as well. I mean, and, And that they have and, and children as

Reegs: dwell a little peep,

Dan: Yeah. There's, there's all kinds of weird and wonderful characters that turn off within this, this movie.

Reegs: There's a great little vignette that is much more coherent, which is about where they she's making literal war toys to condition.

An army of children to go and kill Peruvians. And it's really funny.

Dan: Anybody's wondering what kind of happens then it's not really one of those films. It's about two hour, One time. There is this plot that goes through that. They're trying to find this holy mountain and they're trying to find enlightenment there's. The Alchemist there's these

nine disciples who all live on different.

planets and all have various weird shit going on. Really weird shit

Reegs: sometimes.

Dan: I mean, there was this one guy who cut off. he was the police, I think Jupiter and he, his job, he had a massive gun. When I say a massive gun? Like 10 times bigger than him. He's carrying up or four times bigger than in many ways. And he's carrying this up.

some steps. But then there's this guy who's laid down Spreadeagled

Reegs: he's

Dan: he's. yeah, he's just, he's got like a little hood on his cock, but he's not just hanging out and he's got a great pair of Knights and would they make it all the more this disheartening actually? What happens next? Because the scissors come out, and he's nuts get chopped off and you kind of see this happening.

And then he. He's honored. He's chosen this apparently and he follows the do the police chief from Jupiter up the stairs and sits them on a shelf along with 999 other pairs of testicles.

It was the 1000 pair.

Reegs: Says your sacrifice completes my sanctuary of a thousand

Dan: testicles.

That's exactly what He says. And That's just one scene in this, in this film. So if you want more of that then. This is, this is some of the checkout is something to behold. You can see on prime.

Reegs: Well, I th there's still bits to go. You know, there's because we haven't talked about the the.

Because there's a Chimp, a lot of the way through this, I'm dressed in clothes. So, I mean, that's not cool anymore, but it seems to play a part in the plot because at the very end, it walks off with the prostitute and the other guy off into the distance at the top of the holy mountain.

Dan: Yeah. Who was that guy? by the end, they'd all shaved their heads.

You couldn't tell who was who it was. Oh

Reegs: Yeah, because the nine planets they all a unify around an eye. And then ascend the holy mountain. One of them is killed on the way.

Dan: around.

Reegs: yeah, drowned is

Dan: Although they all look in the bucket and I wonder whether they're just looking at their own reflection the, again, the symbolism sometimes out does itself.

I think, in, in this. film it's obviously a film.

Reegs: is so great. Sometimes there's one, there's a terrific sequence of about three minutes where they show a war happening. But they, the special effects are done with like a guy chopping a watermelon and like pulling bits of ribbon out of each other and throwing paint on each other.

And I know that sounds stupid, but it really works. It looks amazing.

Dan: don't get me wrong. This film is

Reegs: Like

Dan: absolutely the way that he's, he shot this the way that he's used all these, these characters to tell, her, tell a story. The, the color, I think it's,

it doesn't hit every time. as far as your Wow. You know, just, I dunno where that came from or where, which felt is he's using to, to come to that conclusion from this, But at the same time, you're always thinking it challenges you and and you, you really. want to yeah, I carried on watching the whole way through not bored at all, even though I didn't really know what the fuck was going on.

Reegs: No. And there are many challenging aspects we should probably say there, there's probably loads of things that our people would find triggering animal scenes that are distressing scenes of religious iconography, big blast from eyes.

Yeah. I mean, you name it. It's in there. There's an old man. Who's a woman at the same time and he's shaved halfway downs was part man part women with prosthetic it's.

Dan: was the guy who took out the old guy who had a line of prostitute and pick the youngest one who is a child the only child there, but she was dressed the same as the other

Reegs: girls.

Dan: And He gave her his folks I as, and and kind of put it in a hand and kissed her hand. And it was just vital. You know, it's Just one of those. kind of Really, and that those scenes where

Reegs: there's like a, a 32nd scene where a man is stoned to death with gold coins. It's like, you know, you just, everything makes you think there's a whole bit where they completely break the fourth wall at the end.

And he's talking about reality being a lie and, you know, it's all great. And there was a bit that I stopped taking notes because I was just still thinking about which was where he basically said that Being dead is the norm and being alive is the exception. So, you know, you will return to your normal state of being dead.

So experience this bit now that you know

Dan: yeah.

It's, it's full of, of thinking like that is full of creative. Ideas on film, probably. I dunno what the budget was. Sometimes I thought it must be absolutely

billions And then other times I fought, they put this together in, in a few weeks, you know and the

Reegs: It was a tiny crew.

Wasn't it? We look to

Dan: tight. We're just watching the credits rolled down. And what was there Two camera guys. To

Reegs: One special effects guy and there are amazing special effects in this M two camera man. Yeah, it was nuts. What they've managed

Dan: and I think the the director himself,

Reegs: Alejandro Jada Roski, I

Dan: he was involved in the music , as well as acting as well as writing it, you know, all that kind of,

Reegs: yeah.

And he did El TAPO, which we talked about. Neither of us have really seen.

Dan: No, but there's there's a couple of films she's looking his his filmography that I think, oh, okay. Well, I, I wonder how that's that all go? in? that will go, I think I'm Ryan Goslin was in one and James Franco is in another. So a couple of actors that, you know, mainstream and maybe I'd be interested to see those kinds of films because.

this was, You know, to my limit of really the art house films, but I

Reegs: but it, but it's

Dan: it worked, it worked.

It really

Reegs: haven't. We probably haven't got that across that all the time. There's an incredible visual ideas going on.

Dan: I'm glad I watched this with somebody though. I'm glad that you were alongside because you question yourself on a film like this and go, what if I miss something?

If I w. Yeah, No.

Reegs: Well, I bet. I honestly, I bet if you repeatedly watched it, there's probably with the tarot cards and the planets and all that stuff, I'm sure there's a load of shit that went way over my head that you know, I mean, I think, like we said, this is the second time I've seen this your first time.

It's an incredible experience. If you want to push the limits of Senator. This is probably something to think about.

Dan: Well, one of the, the the trailers I think said this was back in a day when they didn't give a shit what you did, you know, they, they they, they just said, okay, you're creative. You got an idea. Go for it, Run. You know, we're not going to say no. And I imagine a lot of studios allow this kind of film to be made anymore, but you can see the influence. in just in so many other films you think, oh, that's kind of like, that It's kind of like that. And

Reegs: yeah, well he nearly did a June adaptation, which would have been just crazy to think what you could do with like a huge punch interring, something like that with a really big inventive visual world, but

Dan: or just listening to the short interview after this, when we were just we kind of tapped into YouTube and it was just really interesting to hear him talk about film and just say, you know, he, He lost, a a when he was like 24 or something.

And then he's just signed a questioned everything that he put together and said, why am I going to do films? Why am I doing it? You know, and really kind of stripped it back like that. And you just see an honesty within what he's doing, you know? it's Pete might say it's


Reegs: I was going to ask you what you thought Pete would think of this.

Dan: I think Pete would be, I think it'd be interest because there's enough, there's enough.

data in there and there's enough going on all around you know, that, that you just going to get through it and you're going to go. Wow. That is completely bizarre. But there wasn't any straightforward plot or anything. was there. So

Reegs: not really, well, there probably was, but it's it's so, so much of an experience watching everything else.

Dan: Yeah. I would like, yeah.

I'd like to see Pete watch this one.