Monday, May 30, 2011

I Climbed The Holy Mountain And All I Got Was This Stupid Blog Post

Growing up I had a friend, let's call him "Max Y." No, too obvious: "M. Yue". M. Yue and I formed what could probably only be described as some sort of buddy comedy, Odd Couple set up: I was the button-down, mild-mannered, all-American good kid and he the wild child, the guy who listened to punk rock and went to Perkins at midnight on weekdays. The kid who got himself and his friends into trouble but never Got In Trouble.

Besides the time I almost got into a fight with a guy at a college hockey game, M. Yue was probably responsible for introducing me to most of the cool things I've ever experienced. It was he who put Kyuss on a mixtape for me (probably the most romantic thing another human being has ever done for me), it was at his house that I first saw Akira. So basically, I take M. Yue's recommendations pretty highly.

He was also the one who forced me to watch Cannibal Holocaust.

This Memorial Day weekend, M. Yue was back in town on leave from the Army, and he asked me, nay he challenged me to watch a film in anticipation of his return. His challenge? The first class mindfuck that is Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain.

Seriously, watch the trailer.

People have called Holy Mountain "experimental" which I don't think necessarily does the film justice. To imply that this film is Jodorowsky "experimenting" with anything is both an insult and an understatement. The underground auteur behind El Topo knows precisely what he wants to do and how to achieve it. He may be bonkers but the film is a fully-realized vision, whatever that means. Experimental? No. Avant-garde? Sure.

The plot of Holy Mountain, and yes there is one, concerns a down-and-out Thief and his search for spiritual enlightenment. Under the instruction of an Alchemist (played by Jodorowsky himself), the Thief  and a crew of nine astrology-inspired companions set out for the Holy Mountain with the goal of unseating the cabal of beings at its summit and achieving immortality.

The set up of the film is mostly New Age mumbo-jumbo. What does it have to say about the soul? I can't really tell you with any sort of certainty. Maybe the message of the film's story was communicated to me subconsciously through experiencing it and I won't realize what I have learned until much later in life. Maybe there isn't anything really coherent to take away and it's just a vehicle for the director to unleash some really weird images on us.

And the images, oh the images. Here is a brief list of what you will see in The Holy Mountain:

- A re-enactment of the conquest of Mexico with lizards as Aztecs and toads as conquistadors
- A "love machine", literally a giant supercomputer-sized machine you can have sex with
- Butt painting (painting with butts, not painting of butts)
- A crazy old woman in a tree made out of dead chickens
- Fascist parades of crucified animals
- Shaving, lots and lots of shaving
- Kung fu Jesus vs. Gandalf!
- A half-man, half-lady with ocelots for breasts showering a man with milk while screaming

My favorite sequence for sheer WHAT IS GOING ON factor is one introducing Axon, the character representing Neptune in the Thief's party. Axon is "the chief of police" which basically entitles him to dress like a character from The Road Warrior and carry a giant Tommy gun to his pep rallies. He also forces his followers to castrate themselves and has an entire room filled floor-to-ceiling with jars of their testicles.

All in all, The Holy Mountain is an experience. I cannot necessarily comment on whether it's a good movie or not, as the trailer will remind you it is "outside the tradition of criticism and review". All I can tell you is that it will blow your mind. Ideal viewing experience requires being under the influence of ayahuasca while a hundred-year-old Indian man whispers blasphemies in your ear.

Final verdict: Prince logo.svg Congos