Friday, May 16, 2008


I don't know what to make of Alejandro Jodorowsky's LA SAGRADA MONTAñA (The Sacred Mountain). Somewhere in the first part of the film I realized that it was an allegory based on St. John of the Cross' Ascent of Mount Carmel which is an address to informed Christians who aspire to grow in union with God; it examines every category of spiritual experience, the spurious as well as the authentic. With rare insight into human psychology, St. John's work not only tells how to become more closely united with God, but spells out in vivid detail the pitfalls to avoid. This exactly is what Jodorowsky's film is about - supposedly.

The film revolves around a character called The Fool (later known as The Thief, who has an uncanny resemblance to modern day's imagery of Christ). It is said the George Harrisson (of The Beatles) wanted so much to play this character but protested the gratuitous nudity (a scene required that his ass be washed in front of the camera) and therefore backed off. Anyway, The Fool was introduced to several characters representing the planets but whose actual jobs were a cosmetics manufacturer, a weapons manufacturer, a millionaire, a political financial adviser, a toy maker, a police chief and an architect. All of them have contributed to the fall of mankind through the products they have mass-produced. The Alchemist (played by Jodorowski himself) asked them to come together to do a search for illumination in a holy mountain and take over the place of the 9 immortals who live there, but before this they have to burn their money and wax images of themselves (sort of dying to one's self) before they began the quest.

Once on Lotus Island (where the mountain is located), they are sidetracked by the Pantheon Bar which features, among other things, a cemetery party of people who have abandoned their quest for the holy mountain in exchange for drugs and booze. I found particularly amusing the scene where a hulk of a man claims that he can go through solid objects saying that he has conquered the mountain - only horizontally. He couldn't go through it from down up. Thankfully, the group resists all the crap going on in the party and moves on. In the end, when the group confronted the 9 immortals, they turn out to be faceless dummies and the camera pans out to reveal the rest of the crew and equipment with Jodorowski saying, "Real life awaits us." This pretty much makes one think whether Jodorowski is simply making an inspired statement there or the audience was duped into thinking the film has a mission.

La Montaña Sagrada remains to be the most expensive Mexican production to date (USD 1, 500,000). It was first shown in the Cannes Film Festival in May 1973 and re-released in the US and worlwide only last year.

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