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Alejandro Jodorowsky-The Holy Mountain-new CULT DVD

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Alejandro Jodorowsky-The Holy Mountain-new CULT DVD

Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Holy Mountain


Mexico, 1973, 114', colore

Original English Version with optional Italian subtitles

What¿s cinema for Jodorowsky? None other than great magic, an elaborate alchemical process. The Holy Mountain is probably the film that best represents the idea of art as an inner quest, a journey of initiation (like its predecessor El Topo) but also artifice and boundless illusion. The strength of the Chilean director (who was largely trained in the theatrical environment of Paris and, with Arrabal, was the driving force behind the Panic Movement) lies not so much in the story as in the visionary power that imbues every single image. Especially in the first part of this great metaphor of the degradation of our contemporary world (and more besides) Jodorowsky gives us of his best, and is painstaking down to the last detail of the sumptuous mise-en-sc¿ne, without being afraid to fill up each shot to the point of excess. In comparison with El Topo, a western with pauper touches, The Holy Mountain magnifies the spectacular and takes to excess the iconographic syncretism of which Jodorowsky is a master. In the cinema, surrealism has perhaps never achieved such expressive, almost explosive, power as in the work of this remarkable film-maker who knows Holy Scripture like the back of his hand.
Poised between Bu¿uel e Fellini; erotic delirium and political historical satire (just think about the sequence on the conquest of Mexico, staged by iguanas and frogs); the cabala and cartoons; catastrophism and salvation; Catholicism and heresy; horror and cin¿ma v¿rit¿; violence and spirituality; performance and narration. Jodorowsky amuses himself by ceaselessly bombarding the spectator with ideas that have a strong visual impact, linked together in narrative sequences that follow hard on each other¿s heels. Among the best and most evocative scenes are the one where Christ is surrounded by simulacrums of himself; the alchemical laboratory (which has a potent design) in which the ritual of slowly turning excrement into gold is performed; the one in which civilians are massacred, where the violence is offset by a poetic touch: and the one where birds that take flight are extracted from corpses.
In his universe peopled by martyrs, whores, executioners, false prophets, and monstrous human beings (he has been condemned on several occasions for his admiration of Tod Browning¿s Freaks) the events in the life of the Christ-Thief unfold - who in the end is the ¿purest¿ figure of the whole film - and of the other seven men of power (each of whom is characterised by a planet) who are all ready to give up their wealth to pursue the quest for immortality under the guidance of Jodorowsky the Alchemist who leads them through various phases of purification to spiritual elevation.
The Holy Mountain - re-released here in the original version without the cuts made by censors to the Italian print - is imbued with constant irony, a sense of the grotesque, and an awareness that no hiatus exists between life and representation, a concept which is expressed in the finale where cinematic illusion is broken and the set unveiled. ¿Is this the end of our adventure? No, nothing has an end¿, says the film-maker magus to his spectator disciples. ¿If we don¿t find immortality at least we shall find reality. Starting with a tale we have found life, but is this life reality? No, it¿s a film. We¿re only images, dreams, and photographs. We mustn¿t stay here as prisoners. Let¿s shatter the illusion. That¿s magic! Real life is waiting for us¿.
The film, like the alchemical process, is over. The screen has gone blank. Once the closing credits have rolled by we have no option but to plunge back into reality, with the feeling that this incredible Jodorowoskyian journey has to some extent changed not just the way we see but our spirit.


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