Movie Evaluate: Acid Buddhism and a journey to the ‘The Holy Mountain’ | Assessments

If “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is a facetious retelling of Arthurian legend, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 film the “The Holy Mountain” may well be a Buddhist-motivated, submit-colonial, psychedelic journey of Jesus and the 7 fatal sins.

Screening at the Grand Illusion Cinema till Oct. 15, the “The Holy Mountain” is a gripping and morbid film about the futile makes an attempt by guy to become enlightened in a Christian custom that is hellbent on keeping him in the dim. In just the opening sequence, a anonymous figure — who bears an uncanny resemblance to ecclesiastical depictions of Jesus — seems limp in mud. He is soon swarmed by insects that depict the extremely authentic consequence of crucifixion: loss of life.

Not like in Christian theology, Jodorowsky abhors the imagery of purity in dying. The director depicts the resurrection of this Jesus-like determine as an even a lot more sordid affair. Bare youngsters draped in bloody dresses carry “Jesus” to a cross inside a cave, only to nail him to claimed cross as soon as more. These kids then line up to pelt him with dung and stones, jeering all the whilst.

This opening scene is emblematic of Jodorwosky’s model. The film constantly depicts Latin American record from a Eurocentric viewpoint, only to have the reenactments show challenging-to-stomach truths: The sacking of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) by conquistadors is now a gory mess, the poverty of the Indigenous populations strains the literal streets, and white vacationers voyeuristically position their cameras at locals to gather memorabilia of their so-referred to as “cultural working experience.”

“The Holy Mountain” maintains this surreal atmosphere by positioning “Jesus” as an actor in all of these scenes. Centered and depraved, he suits the perverse European impact in Latin The us. This is especially clear in the climax of act a person, the place burly, shirtless men dressed as Roman Legionaries generate lifesize casts of “Jesus” for the Catholic masses, which “Jesus” then smashes with fervor.

Given the other faithless depictions of Christian imagery, it is only fitting that “Jesus” ascends a heavenly tower to meet up with a God-like determine in a similarly cynical way. In the tower, “Jesus” is renamed “The Thief,” and his “God” is unveiled to be “The Alchemist,” a person who can provide the thief an chance to come to be enlightened.

The thief is a stand-in for Jodorowsky’s personalized assertion that Catholicism is sick-suited for the folks of Latin The us, as it is also corrupt and as well vile. It is also value noting that Jodorowsky himself plays “The Alchemist” — a casting selection that serves as a self-insert for the Buddhist Jodorowsky, a liaison to the Jap globe he studied.

From this stage onward, the Catholic affect of the film serves as a foil to Buddhist fantasy. Jodorowsky brings in a solid of 7 characters widespread in modern day capitalism: bankers, industrialists, law enforcement, and other users of hierarchical ability inherent to Western modern society. Each individual member signifies one of the 7 fatal sins and serves as caricatures of the vice they embody.

What ensues is the surreal reincarnation of the sinners.

The sinners go as a result of the funerary rights that mark the stop of their previous life. Not like in the Christian custom, which encourages the immortality of the soul, “The Alchemist” has each member of the group burn up their income and effigies of them selves as a illustration of the Buddhist understanding of rebirth. The moment concluded effacing on their own, the sinners are born anew. 

Jodorowsky’s get the job done facilities on the existential question of whether person can transform. “The Thief” refuses to abide by this self-effacing exercise, which Jodorowsky then employs to exhibit the internal corruption of Christianity — notably that of the Church and the widespread adherent. At his journey’s conclude, he is the only character who presents up the search for the “Holy Mountain,” instead opting to return to Earth.

The other figures undergo a fate that is significantly additional sinister. The Holy Mountain was by no means a source of enlightenment, nor was it a way to wipe the slate clear. Seated at a roundtable with Jodorowsky’s character, they are pressured to look at their previous deeds.

Perhaps this is the information that Jodorowsky wished to depart the viewer with: there is no escape from your past. Enlightenment could call for the cleaning of one’s soul, but there is no way of really being reborn.

Attain writer Andy Chia at [email protected]. Twitter: @GreatBaconBaron.  

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