Film Review : The Holy Mountain

Andrew Stephens, Monday the 31st of May, 2010

A Christ-like fool of few words wanders around Mexico having surreal adventures before ascending into a tower to find a wise alchemist who becomes his guide on a journey to the titular mountain This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format.. Is it a Christian allegory? Is it a celebration of hippy mystical excess? Was it made in 1973? Is it social satire? Did the production crew take a lot of LSD? Was John Lennon's money well spent? Is this movie worth watching?

The answers to all these questions are unknown, except for the ones about 1973 and LSD. The answer to both those questions is: "Hell Yeah!"

The Holy Mountain starts promisingly - a main character awakes in a pool of his own urine and gets into a fight with a deformed dwarf whom he soon befriends. Heading into town they make money from tourists by staging historical mock battles with reptiles and toads. The fool gets into various situations before which may or may not be intended to mirror the life of Christ or the cards in a tarot deck or both or neither. In any case, this part of the film has some eye-popping imagery and is nearly silent so you can make up your own story.

Things start getting a bit ropy when the fool meets the alchemist. The film basically slams to a halt as the fool is taught various rituals whose symbolism is only outweighed by their tedium. Things get worse when 7 other people are introduced - the rituals get even longer and less interesting. Finally they all set off for The Holy Mountain, meeting various temptations along the way.

This is a film I really wanted to like. I don't mind the bizarre imagery, nudity, occasional graphic violence and ham-fisted social commentary. The first few scenes set things up nicely, but The Holy Mountain becomes so tedious once the story starts that it doesn't even hold up as a slice of history.

Not recommended. Maybe it's better if you have access to drugs, but you would probably be better off just taking the drugs.