UCFS Screening #9: The Holy Mountain

I) Ascending The Holy Mountain
For weeks now I have been stuck on the question: how does one write about The Holy Mountain? Is it best to state the facts about the film’s production, legacy or narrative? Should I explain The Holy Mountain’s relationship to religion? Maybe, I should discuss how to view the film, or simply what the film means to me.
However, despite the various dimensions of the film I have outlined above, none of them truly explain or encapsulate The Holy Mountain. So, if I cannot describe The Holly Mountain, what instead should I do? The answer is simple, show the film and ask you, the viewer: “what should you say about The Holy Mountain?”
II) Divining The Holy Mountain
For those readers not content with the description to The Holy Mountain provided above, I have formulated another method of discussing the film. Based loosely off three of the Major Arcana of Tarot cards this description of the film provides three modes of thinking about the film’s surroundings and contexts.
1) The Star: A card representing the truth, that which is known and understood. This in the context of The Holy Mountain is the detail surrounding its production. Simply, The Holy Mountain was directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and released 1973. The film’s budget was $750, 000.   Prior to the film’s production Jodorowsky did not sleep for a week straight as a form meditation.
2) Temperance: Generally depicted as an angelic figure pouring fluid between two cups, Temperance denotes the flow of life and combining of ideas. In keeping with this, The Holy Mountain influence and effect has extended far beyond its original context. In particular, the film inspired the American heavy metal band Sleep’s 1992 album The Holy Mountain. Although the album takes its name from the film, Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain has more in common with Sleep’s following record Dopesmoker, which finds the band combining drug usage with mysticism in a similar manner.
3) The Fool: Eager, expectant and beginning a journey, The Fool is easily aligned with audience of the film. Much like The Fool, the audience is embarking on a journey, through watching the film the audience is allowed to explore and travel through their own mind. In many ways, this description of the film is the one I am most fond of. This description places emphasis on the presence of film. It acknowledges the fact that the film is more of an experience then a text. The audience of The Holy Mountain should not attempt decode and explain the film, but instead think of the film as part of a personal journey, guiding them as they explore their own psyche. Simply, ask yourself, what am I hearing, what am I seeing, and what does that mean to me?
III) Watching The Holy Mountain
For those curious about The Holy Mountain, please join the UCFS in room 203 on November 20th to experience Jodorowsky’s bizarre, magical and wonderful film.
By Joel Sutherland

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