Alejandro Jodorowsky’s presentation of the absurdities of religion (and modern life/capitalism) in The Holy Mountain was an enjoyable find for me. A memorable scene was reminiscient of one of my absolute favorite films of all time: Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960).
In The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky’s play on the Jesus Christ Superstar-esque commodification of the image of Christ leads the viewer to a point at which the Thief character has been plaster-copied (enter the simulacra) many times over (the Thief conveniently looks like the standardized image of Christ), and he absconds with one of his copies and subsequently ties it upside down (in an upside down cross image) to a bunch of red balloons and lets it fly away. This scene reflects, I think, a play on Fellini’s opening scene of La Dolce Vita, where Marcello and Paparazzo are filming the helicopter that is flying the golden statue of Christ over Rome, ultimately to the Vatican and il papa.
The funny thing about the opening of La Dolce Vita is that Marcello and Paparazzo very quickly get distracted away from the flying Christ due to some sunbathing girls ontop of an apartment building. Bikini-clad girls are a lot more important–at the very least, I think it is Fellini’s way of commenting on modern priorities. The rest of the film reflects this sentiment, especially the mid-way point’s Children-seeing-the-Madonna spectacle, and the dead and bloated sea monster at the end.
In The Holy Mountain, pretty much immediately, the Thief (i.e. the Christ-like figure) and his image are perverted. And, by the end, Jodorowsky’s very META-cinematic moment reveals what I interpret to be perhaps his true thoughts on religion: let’s live real lives and be happy, and not put stock in false images and unattainable immortality.
Intertwining Christian imagery with Tarot cards and other such eccentricities, Jodorowsky is able to deliver a message to the viewer about the modern world’s obsession with religion, money, sex, image, and war.
Not to mention, the restored version presents Jodorwsky’s vision in bright, vivid colors with very little visual noise.