Film Critique: Acid Buddhism and a journey to the ‘The Holy Mountain’ | Assessments

Courtesy of The Grand Illusion Cinema If “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is a…

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

Screening at the Grand Illusion Cinema until eventually Oct. 15, the “The Holy Mountain” is a gripping and morbid movie about the futile makes an attempt by male to grow to be enlightened in a Christian custom that is hellbent on retaining him in the dim. Within just the opening sequence, a nameless determine — who bears an uncanny resemblance to ecclesiastical depictions of Jesus — seems limp in mud. He is quickly swarmed by insects that represent the incredibly authentic consequence of crucifixion: loss of life.

Not like in Christian theology, Jodorowsky abhors the imagery of purity in loss of life. The director depicts the resurrection of this Jesus-like figure as an even far more sordid affair. Bare youngsters draped in bloody apparel have “Jesus” to a cross within a cave, only to nail him to explained cross when a lot more. These youngsters then line up to pelt him with dung and stones, jeering all the even though.

This opening scene is emblematic of Jodorwosky’s fashion. The movie frequently depicts Latin American record from a Eurocentric viewpoint, only to have the reenactments show really hard-to-tummy truths: The sacking of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico Town) by conquistadors is now a gory mess, the poverty of the Indigenous populations strains the literal streets, and white visitors voyeuristically position their cameras at locals to gather memorabilia of their so-identified as “cultural knowledge.”

“The Holy Mountain” maintains this surreal atmosphere by positioning “Jesus” as an actor in all of these scenes. Dependent and wicked, he fits the perverse European impact in Latin The usa. This is specifically obvious in the climax of act just one, where burly, shirtless males dressed as Roman Legionaries generate lifesize casts of “Jesus” for the Catholic masses, which “Jesus” then smashes with fervor.

Supplied the other faithless depictions of Christian imagery, it is only fitting that “Jesus” ascends a heavenly tower to fulfill a God-like determine in a similarly cynical way. In the tower, “Jesus” is renamed “The Thief,” and his “God” is uncovered to be “The Alchemist,” anyone who can offer the thief an prospect to become enlightened.

The thief is a stand-in for Jodorowsky’s private assertion that Catholicism is ill-suited for the folks of Latin America, as it is also corrupt and also vile. It is also value noting that Jodorowsky himself performs “The Alchemist” — a casting selection that serves as a self-insert for the Buddhist Jodorowsky, a liaison to the Japanese entire world he researched.

From this position onward, the Catholic affect of the film serves as a foil to Buddhist fantasy. Jodorowsky provides in a cast of 7 characters common in modern day capitalism: bankers, industrialists, law enforcement, and other customers of hierarchical electricity inherent to Western culture. Each and every member signifies one particular 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 by means of the funerary legal rights that mark the finish of their previous lives. In contrast to in the Christian custom, which promotes the immortality of the soul, “The Alchemist” has every single member of the team burn their dollars and effigies of by themselves as a illustration of the Buddhist knowing of rebirth. As soon as completed effacing by themselves, the sinners are born anew. 

Jodorowsky’s work centers on the existential issue of no matter whether male can change. “The Thief” refuses to abide by this self-effacing exercise, which Jodorowsky then makes use of to show the inner corruption of Christianity — especially that of the Church and the typical adherent. At his journey’s stop, he is the only character who provides up the search for the “Holy Mountain,” as a substitute opting to return to Earth.

The other characters go through a destiny that is considerably additional sinister. The Holy Mountain was under no circumstances a resource of enlightenment, nor was it a way to wipe the slate clean. Seated at a roundtable with Jodorowsky’s character, they are compelled to take into account their previous deeds.

Probably this is the message that Jodorowsky required to leave the viewer with: there is no escape from your earlier. Enlightenment may perhaps involve the cleaning of one’s soul, but there is no way of certainly being reborn.

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

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