The Holy Mountain

Movie Information

The Holy Mountain, part of a series of Classic Cinema From Around the World, will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.
Genre: Mystical Surreal Fantasy Comedy
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horácio Salinas, Zamira Saunders, Juan Ferrara
Rated: NR

As with last week’s World Cinema offering, El Topo, The Holy Mountain (1973) is a film I reviewed for the Xpress not that long ago (see the original review here), so I’m not going to go into great detail here. Watching the film again, however, I was struck by the fact that its playfulness is used to mask both an anger and a sadness at the passing of the era we think of as the ‘60s (which is really about 1965 through 1975, no matter what the calendar might argue). I’m not at all sure whether Jodorowsky is more angry or sad about the discovery that much of what that era seemed to promise turned out to be bogus—or at least it failed to deliver on its promise. For that matter, it’s not even clear whether or not he feels cheated, or is, in fact, one of the era’s biggest cheats. That, of course, is what keeps a film like The Holy Mountain interesting long after the fact. The very uncertainty of the work is the factor that ultimately overrides its plunges into outright silliness and keeps it fresh. It’s either a profound comment on the shortcomings of the ‘60s, or it’s the embodiment of those shortcomings. That’s something only the individual can decide—or at least try to.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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