mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

July 8, 2014

Episode 174: The Holy Mountain (1973)

Special Guest: Heatherleigh Navarre

We examine Alejandro Jodorowsky's landmark 1973 philosophical film, The Holy Mountain, about nine adepts searching for immortality, undertaking a sacred journey. Joining us is Stephen Scarlata, co-producer of the documentary Jodorowsky's Dune.

Our special guest, Heatherleigh Navarre of The Boston Tea Room, discusses the history and significance of Tarot and reads Mike's cards.

Learn more about The Boston Tea Room
Buy The Holy Mountain on DVD
Buy The Holy Mountain on Blu-Ray
Buy The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky box set
Buy Jodorowsky's Dune on Blu-Ray
Follow Stephen Scarlata on Twitter
Listen to our interview with Stephen Scarlata

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  1. The Foreign ViewerAug 12, 2014, 10:28:00 PM

    Hi Mike and Rob,

    While I was confused about the Starship Troopers episode not having any comments, I'm dumbfounded that the same thing happened with this episode. Granted, your episode on Troopers was significantly better than this just okay episode, but still... I'm not on Facebook, so I'll presume that people comment on the shows there regularly and I'm just being an ignorant luddite. :) Anyway, back to the episode...

    I heard about this movie a long time ago, but never got around to watching it. The whole idea of a broken narrative did not sound too appealing to me, but I did plan on seeing it at some point anyway, since El Topo was quite something (I've never seen a more erotic and suggestive imitation of a lesbian cunnilingus, I'll tell you that :). Maybe you should've made a double episode here and covered that film as well, unless you plan on doing a separate one on it, later? Anyway, since you decided to spotlight the film, I decided to finally see it and I was quite pleasantly surprised. The story turned out to be straightforward enough to follow, direction was quite ambitious and well conceptualized and the satirical stories of the seven planets were the strongest point of the movie. The ending didn't do much for me, but that town of false prophets on the island were the mountain was was more than enough to make the trip worth it. By the way, how ironic is it that one of the false prophets is a drug dealer, yet Jodorowsky himself got high for artistic purposes of the movie and the movie itself is popular with the acid crowd? That cheapens the ending and makes it feel like an "we ran out of money, let's wrap this up somehow" afterthought.

    Stephen was a good choice for co-hosting duties this week and you went through the whole plot pretty thoroughly. However, I say that the show is only good, not great, because you don't get too much into background of things. For instance, I'm surprised that you didn't mention (and If you did, I apologize, I missed it) that the movie was more or less based on the spiritual treatise "Ascent of Mount Carmel" by Saint John of the Cross and unfinished allegorical novel "Mount Analogue" by René Daumal. Since John. One of the reasons for the ending of the movie is the fact that Daumal died before finishing his book about an expedition that's climbing the mysterious eponymous mountain that unites Heaven and Earth. I don't expect you to read these books for the sake of one episode, but you should've read up on them.

    Completed below...

  2. The Foreign ViewerAug 12, 2014, 10:37:00 PM

    Continued from above...

    The philosophical concept that the alchemist's procedure for purification of his seven "planets", the female servant and the thief during the second half of the film reminded me of the most is Nietzsche's Übermensch. His idea(l) of a truly free man resembles the alchemist's ideal of a freedom from death a lot, at least to me, and I expected for the ending to take this idea(l) to its end and create a "superhuman", but with Jodorowsky's ironical/satirical twist. Intentionally or not, this may be the best movie adaptation of this Nietzsche concept.

    As for the visual themes, there's a scene during the credits where camera moves down some kind of wall relief and one of the chiseled images looks a lot like a scene from Alien. It's a figure of a woman or a man on her or his back while something yellowish is on top of them, not unlike a facehugger on an Alien. Coincidental, but the resemblance is amazing.

    I'm surprised (I gett surprised a lot, apparently :) that the segment with the police captain didn't remind you of Road Warrior. Don't you think that that whole scene (castration and everything) would easily fit into Mad Max 2 like some kind of twisted prequel? Again, coincidence, but resemblance is so amazing, I'm prone to thinking that George Miller may have had the pleasure of seeing this movie before scripting Road Warrior.

    As for your Tarot-reading guest, that segment was fun(ny), but I wish you've also contacted an expert on Tarot and magic myths (like a historian or an anthropologist), not just an actual "practitioner". By the way, if you don't mind the question, how much money did that "reading" cost you in the end?

    Too bad there was no one from the crew of the film. It's really unfortunate that nobody wanter to talk about the experience first hand... It's also sad that Jodorowsky was unable to work with the same zeal and in the same conditions as before, but I'm still glad Lynch got Dune. I woudn't mind seeing Jodorowsky's version as well, though, so I'll definitely see the documentary on his Dune.

    To wrap thing up, thanks for a good show (again, not great, "just" good but you can "fix" that in the future El Topo episode :).

    Take care, M'n'R.