is a special kind of director, and The Holy Mountain
, made in 1973, is a special
kind of movie.
The film opens with a man dressed in black (The Alchemist) shaving two women in a rather psychedelically decorated room. The very next thing is a naked man (The Thief) lying in a pool of his own urine, covered by bees. This should tell the audience that, oh boy, are they in for something completely different. The plot is about The Thief, who is somewhat of a Jesus figure, and his midget companion who has no limbs. They travel, meeting The Alchemist and seven other meet strange people, who are pursuing a mysterious goal that involves reaching the titular Holy Mountain.The Holy Mountain
is a parade of symbolism, be it meaningful or just there to confuse everyone. Coupled with the dreamlike narrative and Jodorowsky's tendency to cram the scene full of whatever he wishes the result is quite bizarre. The film is also either a spiritual or an outright actual sequel to El Topo
, another trademark Jodorowsky film made three years earlier. The Holy Mountain
was bankrolled by Allen Klein, manager for The Beatles
, as John Lennon
and George Harrison
admired El Topo
. The film was shot sequentially, entirely in Mexico.
The Holy Mountain has examples of:
- A God Am I: The Alchemist's goal is to travel, with his nine disciples, to Lotus Island to dethrone the immortal gods ruling there, and take their place.
- Anachronism Stew: The film contains traditional Mexican villas and iconography blended with handheld cameras, helicopters and other then-modern technology. Isla of Mars says that her weapons manufacturing plant creates biological weapons as part of its inventory.
- Arc Words: "You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold."
- "My name is X, and my planet is Y."
- BFG: Axon of Neptune carries a comically oversized assault rifle in his first appearance on screen.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall/Postmodernism: The fourth wall is completely demolished by the Alchemist at the end.
- Corpsing: As The Alchemist commands the film camera to zoom out to reveal the film crew, Axon of Neptune's actor begins chuckling.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Intentionally done early on to The Thief. A religious group make a hold of his body for religious iconography since he looks so much like Jesus.
- Fantastic Religious Weirdness: If you can spot its presence, you've probably watched this an unhealthy number of times...or just once.
- Gainax Everything
- Gratuituous German: The lyrics to the frog soldier song are the numbers 1 to 5 in German. repeated over and over.
- Groin Attack: Neptune castrates a guy, then takes his testicles to be stored in a room with 1,000 other pairs.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: The Alchemist at one point shows The Thief what would happen if he had the powers of Christ in that exact instance. It doesn't go well.
- Male Frontal Nudity
- Male Gaze: The endless breast shots of the prostitutes.
- Mind Screw
- More Dakka: Isla of Mars.
- No OSHA Compliance: The Alchemist reisdes within an extremely tall building with an open, round entrance at the top. The Thief makes it up there by riding a large hook that is retracting into the top of the building. He gets down via The Alchemist's helicopter.
- Pædo Hunt: A scene featuring a boy around the age of 10 stroking the naked buttocks of a girl his age while both are in bed, positioned as if they had just had sex, was deleted from the film to avoid this trope.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Performed early on during the molding scene.
- Refuge in Audacity: The Movie.
- The Immodest Orgasm: When Fon of Venus brushes the cheek of one of his factory workers, she begins clutching herself and gasping… while suddenly appearing in a bombshell dress, fighting off other plant workers.
- Wham Line: "Is this reality? No. It is a film.. Zoom back, camera."
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Massively subverted, Jodorowsky took LSD during the filming of several scenes and the main cast was made to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms during the death/rebirth scenes after the group has formed. Neptune was also on LSD during the castration scene and (according to the commentary track) almost actually cut off the other guy's testicles with a real pair of scissors.
- A preacher on Lotus Island advocates drug use, stating that LSD was the actual Philosopher's Stone.
- Writer on Board: Jodorowsky did pretty much everything in the film, including starring as The Alchemist. Not as pretentious as it sounds, since this allowed Jodorowsky to complete his vision the way he envisioned it. Whatever that was.