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36. The Holy Mountain; movie review

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Title : 36. The Holy Mountain; movie review
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Cert 18
113 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong bloody violence

I wonder how many film students have been giving the task of trying to interpret Alejandro's Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain.
I can just imagine their lecturer stroking his chin as he attempts to explain its surrealism and the friendly but impassioned arguments that follow.
Then I muse on whether any of them come up with the conclusion that he is just plain crazy?
The Holy Mountain initially seems to have religion as the foundation for its many tangents but then completely goes off on one.
Indeed, it demanded that I do a bit of reading to understand the motivation behind the making of a film which is so utterly bonkers.
I quickly discovered that before principal photography began, Jodorowsky and his wife spent a week without sleep under the direction of a Japanese Zen master.
Meanwhile, the chief cast members spent three months guided in various spiritual exercises guided by a guru of Zen, Sufi and yoga exercises. The same guru instructed Jodorowsky to take LSD for spiritual exploration.
He also administered psilocybin mushrooms to the actors before a particularly strange scene.
So, it becomes clear. Everyone connected with the movie was off their faces.
I have no experience of LSD but I would imagine the audience's minds would need to be similarly altered to understand or at least enjoy Jodorowsky's work.
The Holy Mountain is akin to going to an exhibition of vaguely connected abstract art.
True, there is the vaguest thread of a story in that a thief (Horacio Salinas) (initially seen lying in the desert with his face covered by flies) appears to have parallels to Jesus because he looks like him.
But where the brutality to animals, endless nudity and sex and the wackiest scenes in cinema play a part in the narrative is impossible to fathom.
And yet Jodorowsky's work is alluring and he is the great boundary-pusher. Every scene is arresting - largely because it is like nothing witnessed at the cinema before or since.
For many reasons, movies such as this would not be made nowadays or certain scenes would be banned but that means that cinephiles will want to see what the fuss is about.

Reasons to watch: So crazy it has to be seen
Reasons to avoid: Impossible to follow

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity; Yes, lots
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know? Since 1948, Alejandro Jodorowsky has worked as a novelist, screenwriter, a poet, a playwright, an essayist, a film and theatre director and producer, an actor, a film editor, a comics writer, a musician and composer, a philosopher, a puppeteer, a mime artist, a psychologist and psychoanalyst, a  draughtsman, a painter, a sculptor, and a spiritual guru.

The final word. Alejandro Jodorowsky: "People say I am mad. I am not mad. I am trying to heal my soul." The Guardian

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