Holy Mountain, The (La montana sagrada) (Blu-ray) (1973)

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Released 18-Jan-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Audio Commentary-Alejandro Jodorowsky
Deleted Scenes-(5:41)
Featurette-Restoration Process (5:32)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-The Tarot with Commentary by Alejandro Jodorowsky (7:53)
Gallery-Photos Gallery and Original Script Excepts (4:06)
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 116:57 (Case: 113)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Alejandro Jodorowsky
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Alejandro Jodorowsky
Horacio Salinas
Ramona Saunders
Juan Ferrara
Adriana Page
Valerie Jodorowski
Ana de Sade


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Alejandro Jodorowsky
Don Cherry
Ronald Frangipane


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Spanish Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Spanish
Spanish Audio Commentary
French
French Audio Commentary
Portuguese
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Alejandro Jodorowsky followed up his cult hit El Topo with The Holy Mountain, a confusing, complex, mystical and spiritual experience which makes El Topo feel like an exercise in restraint.

     A Christ like figure, The Thief (Horacio Salinas), wanders about in a brutal, corrupt, greedy and venal society where students are randomly shot on the streets and women raped by soldiers wearing gas masks while tourists take pictures and the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish is played out on the streets as a pantomime using models of buildings plus live chameleons and toads. The Thief, who has been crucified and is being followed by a prostitute (Ana de Sade) with a chimpanzee, enters a huge tower and encounters The Alchemist (Alejandro Jodorowsky), who can turn excrement into gold, and his naked assistant (Ramona Saunders). The Alchemist introduces The Thief to seven disciples, each of whom is connected to a planet. The seven are all rich and powerful individuals who have played their part in corrupting the world, including a weapons manufacturer, a woman who brainwashes children to kill or a chief of police who maintains power through 1,000 individuals who have had their testicles removed. The seven now must give up their worldly wealth and their existing selves and, with The Alchemist, his assistant and The Thief, journey to The Holy Mountain and there overthrow the nine immortals who control the world.

     This summary makes The Holy Mountain (La montana sagrada) sound more coherent than it is. Taking inspiration from the Tarot, The Holy Mountain has very little dialogue and provides few explanations; instead it is a succession of very surreal, very bizarre, often stunningly beautiful but also often perverse and grotesque, images. There are soldiers marching with bloodied flayed animals on crosses, toads in suits of armour, a forest of paper mache Christ figures, a black clad and hooded figure flanked by two blonde white clad women in a white room with black cross tiles, a carnival of dancing figures, a woman in red and a monkey in yellow on the white snow, an aged man who takes out his eye to give to a child prostitute, or the vivid, ever-changing colours of The Alchemist’s lair; these are just a few of the images which stay in the mind. Indeed, colours everywhere are vibrant, almost psychedelic, making for a kaleidoscopic viewing experience.

     Following his success with El Topo, writer / director Alejandro Jodorowsky gave full reign to his imagination and expanded many of the themes of El Topo, religion, spirituality, mysticism, corruption, depravity and power, into an over the top and at times almost incomprehensible mix. It feels a bit like a pantomime and there is nothing subtle or restrained about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s targets; the section where the seven disciples and their perversions are introduced one by one, all dealing with sexual depravities, power and corruption, belabours the point about the powerful elite almost to death. Then just as one thinks that Jodorowsky may be running out of ideas and surprises, he throws in one of the most unexpected endings of any film, reinforcing his ideas about illusion and reality.

     The Holy Mountain is a story about the journey towards enlightenment. Heavy on grotesque and religious images, strong violence, blood, male and female full nudity and sexual themes, The Holy Mountain is clearly not for everyone. As well, Jodorowsky films naked children, some with green painted genitals, which is far more than any director would get away with these days. It can be confronting viewing but, as an experience, The Holy Mountain is a psychedelic, genuine original, like nothing else you would have seen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Holy Mountain is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The Restoration featurette on this Blu-ray shows how the film looked before it was restored. There are still occasional small marks, and one scene on a pyramid does look a bit murky, but otherwise the film looks fabulous. The colours are magnificent. The reds, yellows, blues and greens are deep and vibrant. Close up detail is excellent. Blacks and shadow detail are very good, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones natural.

     Other than as mentioned above, artefacts and marks were absent.

     English, Spanish, Portuguese and French subtitles are available for the feature. The same languages’ subtitles are available for the audio commentary, which is in Spanish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is a choice between English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English LPCM 2.0 stereo and the Spanish LPCM 2.0 audio commentary.

     The film was originally released with mono audio and the remixed 5.1 remains front oriented. However, the surrounds and rears do feature music and ambient sounds, crowd noises, gunshots or explosions and there were occasional accentuated loud effects for heightened senses. The dialogue, what there is of it, is clear. The sub-woofer supported the crowds, music and explosions.

     The score by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Don Cherry and Ronald Frangipane is varied and effective.

     With so little dialogue there are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary Alejandro Jodorowsky

     If ever a film required explanation it is The Holy Mountain and Jodorowsky does not disappoint. Speaking in Spanish, with subtitles available, he explains the images and symbolism within each scene, drawing on references as wide as the Japanese tea ceremony, the tarot, the chakras and Christian iconography. This could be dry but with Jodorowsky’s wit and humour it is anything but, greatly aiding our understanding of his intentions and what is up on the screen. He also finds the time to comment on shoes, threats to his life while filming in Mexico, the purpose of art, where cinema is going, using non-actors, his philosophy and a whole range of other things. He does not even stop talking when the film ends! Another fabulous commentary by Jodorowsky.

Deleted Scenes (5:41)

     Eight deleted scenes with optional commentary by Jodorowsky. He speaks in Spanish; there are English subtitles but they must be enabled from the menu before selecting “Extras” as you cannot access them via the remote on the fly. Jodorowsky explains what the scenes are about and, mostly, why they were cut.

Restoration Process (5:32)

     An unseen Joe Burn provides information about how the film was restored while a split screen shows the before and after comparisons. Short but interesting.

Theatrical Trailer (2:28)

    Unrestored original trailer.

The Tarot with Commentary by Alejandro Jodorowsky (7:53)

     Jodorowsky speaks in Spanish; see the Deleted Scenes section above for enabling the subtitles. Jodorowski is fascinated by the Tarot and talks about his research and provides examples of meanings.

Photos Gallery and Original Script Excepts (4:06)

     Silent, a camera roves over heavily annotated and marked script pages with stills attached. Better than your usual photo gallery.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A Blu-ray of The Holy Mountain is the same as our local release.

Summary

     The Holy Mountain may be appreciated but it is not an easy film to like. It is a hallucinogenic trip, with or without the addition of the substances that the cast ingested while filming. It is a confronting film replete with mysticism and spirituality, ideas, surreal and grotesque images that are to be experienced as much as watched. The film is an original and certainly not for everyone. However, anyone interested in cinema that is very different, fans of the movie or Jodorowsky would be happy that the film is now available in HD.

     The video is very good, the audio fine. The extras add value to the Blu-ray package, especially the excellent audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, March 10, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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