The Holy Mountain (1973) Script

First, a set decorated without furniture. It's clean, like a hospital, with crosses on the wall to convey a sense of mysticism.

There are only essential objects, like a sacred ceremony.

The master's outfit conceals his face. He hides his face, like Mohammed.

He is an essential being, without ego.

These are the actual movements of a Japanese tea ceremony.

All the movements are conscious.

Alejandro Jodorowsky. That is still my name.

I have lost pieces of it.

My full name was Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky.

Prullansky was the name of my mother, but it was too long.

It's too bad, I have lost the name of my mother.

Only my father's name has prevailed.

I'm very happy to record these commentaries because The Holy Mountain was a great adventure for me.

I shot this film in a different life.

I am not the same man anymore.

In these commentaries, I'll try to resurrect an Alejandro that no longer exists.

I will make a concerted effort to bring him back to the present, because I like the young man that I once was.

He was trying with all his soul to make a sacred film.

He wanted to change mankind with his films.

He thought that cinema was better than LSD.

He thought his film would be a source of enlightenment for the audience.

I am the first actor who painted his fingernails black.

Many people in rock later copied it.

These two girls weren't actresses. They wanted to have a spiritual experience.

They were searching for their own truth, their naked truth.

The inner God that opens in circles toward a greater consciousness.

A heart that opens toward a greater consciousness.

The target that the arrow must hit.

The eye of Buddha.

The pearl, the soul that must be polished.

When the door is opened, a key is found to the trilogy.

Now, descend into the world of the dead, to the world of dreamless dreams.

Descending...

Butterfly wings symbolize metamorphosis.

Back up through the serpent, Kundalini...

...the pearls of Eros, until it arrives at a geometric figure, which is the interior consciousness.

He's "The Fool" of the tarot, lying on the ground.

His face is covered with flies, symbolizing useless thoughts.

He is urinating on himself.

He's lost and drunk.

This is the card that defines him, the tarot's Fool card.

The Fool is always represented by an animal that is his ego.

The frog is the ego.

This character is the divine aspect of The Fool.

These boys have their genitals painted green.

He pulls out the flower that grows on his hand like a root and forms the wound of Christ.

The boys take him over a crumbling Egyptian pyramid, symbolizing an ancient civilization.

With a donkey's leg, he traces a line, a limit.

They throw stones to wake Christ, who is on a cross, on a "T", the "T" of tarot.

He finally wakes up to begin the long initiation that will give him wisdom.

He shoos away his childhood, his primitivism.

He uncovers his rage, his basic instincts.

He wants to attack this being that has woken him.

But he is placated through vice - "Smoke a little joint with me."

And that's how he tames him.

Every character in this film has an astrological symbol.

The man with no arms has a moon in his ear.

The sleeping man begins to understand human emotions.

He finds friendship with himself - with his monstrous side.

They carry on taking their drugs, happy and drunk, celebrating.

But we're in a dictatorship, where students are killed and hundreds are crucified, while the rich speak of religion and feel good about themselves.

I borrowed these carcasses from a restaurant.

When I returned them later, the customers ate them.


The man who plays the American tourist is David Kapralik, the agent for Sly & The Family Stone, a famous American singer.

This American doesn't worry about the political situation.

They're raping his wife, which he finds very amusing.

It's very entertaining. He films it.

This refers to the American spirit, oblivious to what's going on overseas.

Even today, Americans don't know what they have done abroad.

Non-Americans are not beings, they're aspects of tourism.

He gives him a dollar for having let him film it.

Our character is learning the value of money.

Now he works in the "Toad and Chameleon" circus, which refers to the conquest of America.

They hire the character to advertise their circus.

He likes money now.

He's become an accomplice to money.

He announces this show made with toads and chameleons, which were so hard to dress!

Their urine was like acid.

When I put on their armor, they'd fill up with air, then they would blow it out and try to escape.

The chameleons were dressed in Aztec outfits.

All the symbols are Aztec symbols.

We had to wait ages until a chameleon stuck out its tongue or moved its eyes.

They wouldn't move.

Every move they make is a treasure, I swear.

Look, here it's going to move.

I'd say, "Move! Move! Move!" There he moved, see?

This headdress is a copy of Montezuma's, the great Emperor.

Here Christopher Columbus's three ships arrive.

The first person off the ship is a priest who would convert everyone.

And then come the Nazis, the Germans. I used a song by Wagner.


I chose toads because they were soft...

...and chameleons because they were so immobile, so perfect.

And here comes the drama.

The bloodbath begins. The slaughter, the genocide, under the pretext that the law must be imposed.

It's a law that is alien to these people.

It's like imposing democracy on the Aztecs.

What use is it to them?

I filmed this on the street, among astounded passers-by.

Our character was driven by money. Here's the other one, counting money.

He starts to suffer, because he feels like one of the toads.

The public is satisfied with the show, but he cries.

He realizes he has been destroyed.

Here Christ is for sale. Religion has become a business.

Here I start making references to various films.

Italian films, for instance, those huge productions that explored biblical themes.

The tourists still don't understand.

She wears the Sacred Heart on her genitals.

He buys a cross. It's very heavy, so they give him some help.


I find those three soldiers and the fat guy dressed as the Virgin Mary very funny.

They seduce him because he looks like Christ.

They want to reproduce Christ's image. That's what this scene is about.

He leaves his friend, he ends up betraying him.

In other words, he betrays a part of himself.


The grease of the pig symbolizes the ego. They cover him with it.

How much better is reality, compared to an optical effect?

Here he is breathing through two tubes, so he's alright.


This is my own version of Michelangelo's La Pietà, Michelangelo's famous sculpture in which the Virgin holds the dead Christ.

Tequila Cuervo. Cuervo means "raven", which is the primary matter in alchemy.

The merchants of the temple are asleep, and he wakes up.

He will have another moment of enlightenment.

He realizes he's been used to play the role of Christ.

This is his most profound moment of insight.


I dubbed the thief's voice. It was me who was screaming.


This is a metaphor for Christ chasing the merchants out of the temple.

It's a biblical image. He destroys his fake egos.

"This isn't me! This isn't me!"

And then he finds a sculpture that really looks like him.

"This is what I want to be.

"This is what I want to be. This is the Christ I want to be."

The prostitutes in the church.

One of them has a monkey - her hairy ego.

I didn't want to work with actors.

I wanted to work with real people playing characters similar to themselves, because the first thing I wanted to do was to help the actors evolve.

In order to change the world I had to change the actors in the film.

I thought, "I will work with real people and enlighten them."

I didn't give the actors any directions. I just told them, "Move around."

I asked them to move, but I didn't give them directions because they were playing themselves.

The scene we are about to see symbolizes perversion, the pedophilic perversion of this world.

This poor little girl is selling herself.


The character has gained dignity. He is searching for himself.

He finds his apostles, who are whores and apostles at the same time.

This one sees the Christ within him and falls in love.

She doesn't fall in love with a human being, but with a spiritual one.

She sees his spirituality.

She heals his wounds, which are also her wounds.

She is compassionate.

She reveres him and takes him as her master.


They arrive at a dance where men are dancing with men.

We see soldiers dancing with civilians.

I already knew back then that civilians get killed in wars.

So, I joined soldiers and civilians together in a dance of love.

A civilian is a soldier without a uniform.

A soldier is a civilian wearing a uniform. They're equals.

In this scene, a crazy charro stuck a gun into my chest and said, "Stop filming or I'll kill you."

I went insane and insulted him. And I said, "If you kill me, I'll kill you."

I yelled at him, he got scared and left.

But I risked my life in this scene.

That Mexican could have killed me.

The place where I was threatened the most was Mexico.

During the shoot they wanted me dead, the Church published a book against me.

The Minister of the Interior called me and said, "The President really likes you, "but we've had a lot of complaints. Don't put uniforms in the film.

"No priests, no soldiers, no firefighters. Take all that out

"because the Government is being good to you, but it could become dangerous."

It was almost a direct threat to my life.

The next day I left Mexico with all the footage and came to New York.

I finished The Holy Mountain here.

Mexico is a fascinating country because they like black heroes.

They attack their heroes, but if you stand your ground, later they admire and love you.

The priest yells at him in a made-up language.

"This isn't true, this naked Christ! Get him away from here."

He realizes that in that church they have lost the true meaning of Christianity.

And he holds communion by eating the face.

"The image is me."

This is another step forward in his evolution.


He wants to ascend toward spiritual development, which is symbolized by the sky.

Yin and Yang.

The receptive and the active.

The primitive world ends when he floats toward the sky.

Now the second part of the film begins.

The first part described the primitive world.

Now we go toward the mystical world.

They are all looking up, as if waiting for something to fall from the sky.

They are still doing it. They only eat fish and grapes, which are Christian symbols.

They arrive in the middle of a crowd of waiting people.

What are they waiting for?

There is a tower with a hole at the top, and a hook descends.

On the hook there is a pouch with a solar symbol.

The pouch contains gold.

He gets on the hook and, driven by his desire for money, which is the only thing he knows, he goes up the tower.

It is an initiation tower, a link between Heaven and Earth.

He is determined to steal.

He is a thief. He's going to steal the gold.

He's taken the bait. Sometimes our inner God casts bait for us.

He says, "I'm right here, inside you. Come look for me. Recognize me.

"I am you and you are me.

"Get in touch with your divine side."

The more I watch this film, the more I notice the tarot symbols in it.

The Tower, for example, is card 16.

The Lovers, the Fool... Almost all the tarot characters are in this film.

Now he enters a sort of womb.

At the end of it there is a hymen that he must break in order to pass through the threshold, to pass from one world to another.

He's about to enter the magical world.

The primitive world converges with the magical world.

He thinks it's very tough, but it doesn't take much to get through.

It's easy to enter another world if you set your mind to it.

You must jump into the void.

And here we see the rainbow, a room shaped like the rainbow.

He walks toward the light, toward awareness.

He finds a world of symbols.

A camel for crossing the desert, Yin and Yang.

The soul with words, the drop that falls on the spirit.

The Tao, the rod of Jehovah, the Kabbalah, the symbol of Mercury.

The tattoos on the black woman are something I came up with myself and now I see them everywhere.

Here's the master of the enneagram - a system of nine symbols.

Igneous is the symbol of fire.


I was impressed by Frankenstein's shoes, so I asked my designer, Nicky, to come up with shoes that not only had heels, but high platforms as well.

The camel did a great job.

A zookeeper I knew lent us the animals.

We'd take them out at night in a truck and then we'd return them.


He's like a fly trapped in a spider's web.

But instead of killing him, they will give him true life. He will be reborn.

The chakras.

He touches his heart again, and his mind opens up.

Now they are going to eradicate his past.

That tumor he has is his past and it will be removed.

I changed the color of the blood and made it blue.

The best thing I could find to represent the tumor was an octopus that I bought in the market.

The past has been removed.

Now the chakras, and he'll be reborn.

He gives him the weapon. The knife is useless now.

It's a cross-shaped knife.

This is his mirror image. They have the same voice.

When I decided to make The Holy Mountain, Allen Klein introduced me to The Beatles, including George Harrison.

George Harrison read the script and loved it.

He asked to meet me in the Plaza Hotel, here in New York, to discuss how we would make the film.

I arrived quite happy, of course.

He said he was willing to do the entire film except for one scene.

"Which one?" "The scene where the thief is nude

"in a bathroom and the alchemist washes his anus in front the camera."

He said, "I'm not willing to show my anus."

I said, "You have to.

"This isn't just a film, this will change people's minds.

"You'll provide a wonderful example of leaving your ego behind."

"No, I can't," he replied.

So, I said, "Well, unfortunately, I cannot take out this scene."

And he decided not to do it. I went back to Mexico, gave the role to this unknown actor and lost millions of dollars.

But at the time that was me. I didn't make films to earn money or fame.

I made them to change mankind. That's the truth.

The pelican is one of the symbols of Christ because it is said that when their babies are hungry pelicans peck at their own chest to feed them with their blood.

He uses the Tefillin, which are Jewish sacred objects, because alchemy and Kabbalah have Jewish roots.

In psychoanalysis, excrement by children is considered something creative.

Excrement and gold amount to the same thing in psychoanalysis.

According to Freud, the greatest sin is to be born.

He said, "When you're born, you create an ego that wants to be the Universe.

"It wants to be God, but can't be."

He thought we were guilty of being born and of having this great ambition of being everything.

In a similar way, according to Buddha, apart from old age, illness, and death, the greatest tragedy is to be born. To be born is to enter pain.

He wanted to free himself from the chains of being born and reborn.

Damn! They're both wrong!

I am against psychoanalysis and against Buddhism. Stop it!

It's wonderful to be born!

It's wonderful to be ill, because the illness becomes your master.

It's wonderful to grow old, because it makes you wiser.

And it is wonderful to die, because being immortal would be so boring!


He will transform the excrement into gold.

He will transform this primitive being into a disciple.

It is very important to know that all of our negative traits can become positive attributes and contribute to our development.

An oval mirror. He looks at himself and is embarrassed.

When he breaks the mirror, he enters a world full of mirrors.

The pyramid above the cube is a Masonic image.

They call it "working the stone" - working the ego to get to the essence.

He can't break the stone because he's trying too hard, he's ambitious.

If you are ambitious and desire things, you will not get them.

The master has no ambition. One hit and the stone opens.

Just one blow to the top...

There lies transparent awareness.

We're going to enter a tarot initiation session.

I started studying the tarot when I was very young, when I was 23 years old.

I've been studying it and trying to understand its meaning ever since.

The tarot is a visual language, an encyclopedia of symbols.

Once I memorized it, understood it, and was able to use it, once I became a tarot master, my perception of the world changed.

I started to perceive the world differently and to think in symbols.

The tarot images we are seeing were invented by me.

I shouldn't have done that. I should have used the real ones.

But back then I was a pretentious artist and believed I could outdo it.

The tarot of Marseille is a sacred piece of work.

The best you can do to understand it is not to create a new one, but to use the one that already exists.

In sacred art, perfection is defined like this - there's nothing to add and nothing to remove.

When I did The Holy Mountain I didn't quite understand the tarot.

I tried to create my own tarot.

These are the elements of the tarot - the four components of a human being.

First of all, the wand, which symbolizes sex.

Creative sex.

The sword, for intellect. From sex, toward the spirit, toward the head.

The cup, for the heart.

And finally, the gold. The material life rising until it becomes an aura.

The movements were created by my Zen master, Ejo Takata, in Mexico.

I also hired a master who worked in the States.

He had created a group called Arica Training.

He came to Mexico to teach me how to be a master.

He came to Mexico, gave me LSD and guided me for eight hours.

Oscar Ichazo, from Arica Training.

I had never done drugs before and thought he'd train me with exercises.

He told me, "Don't waste your time. Just have some LSD."

And that's what I did.

He was from Bolivia and came from the Guryev tradition.

He taught us the enneagram, which I used in this film.

There are nine characters.

There is a white peacock, a symbol of enlightenment.

The characters in my films never move their mouths when they speak.

It's a film, so why should they move their mouths?

This was the only real actor in the film, although he worked in television.

I filmed this in a real factory, which I converted.

Each character represents the negative side of their planets.

This one is Venus, and so he has many wives and children.

He is concerned with beauty and narcissism.

According to the Greeks, the god of love was a woman, but this one is a man.

There is also a political meaning to all of this.

Politics are an element of our world, but not everything is political.

In this world not everything is political.

But it's a part I couldn't ignore if I wanted to give a comprehensive overview.

There is a religious side, a political side, a mystic side, an alchemic side, an artistic side.

All of this exists in life.


This is Bobby, from the San Francisco "Coquettes".

He was the most beautiful transvestite I had met.

He became a woman later, he's a transsexual.

She becomes the primary lover. The sperm is made of little hearts.

The boss's sperm is made of little hearts. It's very romantic. I love it.

I always wonder what the purpose of art is.

Are artists the jesters of society?

It's a bit like smoking. People smoke to enjoy themselves, but it is an entertainment that kills.

When you go to the cinema and are treated like a twelve-year-old child, you have a good time, but you come out more stupid each time.

Cinema is making audiences stupid, it's treating them like babies.

I didn't want to do that. I wanted to wake people up.

I wanted to wake up a society that has been ill since the Middle Ages.

I must make films that heal.

Art is good when it heals, when it's therapeutic.

I wanted my films to have an emotional impact on people, to cause an unconscious reaction, so people would leave the theater changed, charged with a new energy, with some revelation, with something.

It had to be more than just entertainment, after which you feel like a stupid child.

We see here a facial enhancement operation, they are very common these days.

Someday soon the dead will be able to speak.

We'll give them machines and they'll move their mouths and say, "Goodbye, my children." Or they will bless us, like this one here.

This is a lesbian actress.

Here I address gay issues.

I addressed homosexual problems, as well as those of war.

Because... this is Mars.

There's a French painting in the background.

A woman grabs another woman's nipple. It has a lesbian touch.

I got closer to the painting and put a flashing light on the nipple.

The music of The Holy Mountain was composed by Don Cherry and myself.

I came across Don Cherry because I was looking for a spiritual musician.

I saw this sort of clown, dressed in a suit made from bits and pieces.

His wife was Swedish, she was an avant-garde artist, and all her possessions came from rubbish bins in New York, from things that people threw away.

The pieces of cloth came from what people threw away.

Because in New York, when people got rid of something, they would just put it out on the street.

The furniture in their house, the spoons, everything they had came out of rubbish bins. It was all free.

She'd make outfits out of bits and bobs for him to wear at his gigs.

He also played a broken trumpet.

I wanted to show homosexual positions, as seen through a microscope.


I shot this scene in a steel factory that I was allowed to use.

My budget was low, but I wanted a grandiose film with grandiose sets.

So, I would film real locations and add something to make them a bit unreal.

Human ferocity.

The Taliban.


And this is war turning into rock and roll.

I was prophetic because I addressed the issue of religious wars, which would take place later on. This is a war, a religious war.

At first it is just fashion. Then we see the grenades.

Everything is beautiful. It is the beautification of crime.

There are the Buddhists, the Jews... the Christian Catholics. All of them manufacture weapons.

This is the millionaire. He was a millionaire in real life.

He has an art collection.

This woman didn't have breasts. She had had them amputated.

The millionaire's wife didn't have breasts.

She was not an actress.

If you look closely, you can see she hasn't got breasts.

The piano rig didn't work very well. I wanted it to look like a huge condom, but it doesn't quite work.

The chauffeur was the son of a famous Hollywood producer called Harry Cohen.

The chauffeur is played by Harry Cohen's son.

This is some American girl that just happened to be around.

Her name was Re.

I liked this girl very much.

I got her to take drugs through her ear.

Nobody does that. I invented "ear cocaine".


I think this symbolizes the poetic girl that sells herself.

Here I intended to poke fun at modern art.

This is something I invented - people painting with their buttocks.

These sculptures are by a Mexican artist called Felguérez.

I asked him to merge human bodies with abstract sculptures.

He got angry because his sculptures don't have much time on screen.

He didn't realize people would see them for years to come.

"I worked so hard for months and you only get to see them for a few seconds."

They are still considered modern art. They'd fit in the Museum of Modern Art.

Nobody has yet merged human bodies, in an aesthetic fashion, with abstract sculptures.

The creation of this machine is based on metaphysical concepts.

I wanted to show a small machine that would get bigger and bigger, to give the idea that this machine was taking over the Universe.

And because of the pleasure it gives to humans, the machine itself becomes human and gives birth to a new machine.

It was abstract art turned into biology. That was the intention.

I use the same concept in the art exhibition, mixing human bodies with abstract forms.

Humans inside geometric forms.

I wanted to fuse geometry with biology.

This happens nowadays with the robots that the Japanese are creating.

I think man is meant to create machines that he will later insert into his body, and that will transform his life.

In the future, man and machine will be joined as one being.

That's what I think, or what I would like to happen.

Machines are dangerous, of course.

They can develop intelligence and autonomy and create their own society.

It can happen. It could happen.

With this machine, I confronted that fear with humor.

I got the machine to give birth to a baby machine, which will eventually grow up, I suppose.

This is Saturn. It's very important, because Saturn plays with children, and then eats them.

We shot this at an actual school.

These children were excited about the sweets and the dwarfs dressed up as Santa Claus.

I had trouble finding that huge man that's following her. He's a giant.

This is Valerie, my wife at the time.

Here's the elephant with the white and the black moons - Yin and Yang.

Pachyderms are very powerful geological symbols.

They symbolize the earth, the roots I haven't got.

Aside from living in my shoes, I'd like to live on as an elephant.

My country is my shoes.

When I screened The Holy Mountain in Cannes, the Festival's president required that I submit the film under a country.

I said that it was Mexican, but Mexico didn't want to recognize it as theirs.

It was too weird a film, with no charros. It wasn't Mexican.

That fact affected the chance of winning an award at the festival.

But I didn't care because I wasn't playing football. I was making a film.


In this scene there are only old people. I got them from a retirement home.

It was hard. I had to pick them up from the home and then take them back.

They'd piss and soil themselves.

This is a toy factory run by old people.

They make things for children, bizarrely enough.

The only thing they make is weapons. All the toys are weapons.

As long as children's education doesn't change, the world will not change either.

Those are the heads of state for every country.

They are getting ready to corrupt the children.


The Peruvian revolution I talk about here would take place later on with The Shining Path.

It was a catastrophe in Peru, and I foresaw it.

Peru's problems appeared in this film, long before they happened.

The world is very ill.

The world needs to heal the seas, the rivers, the environment, society, money.

It must heal itself.

We're all ill.

The artist must react.

The artist must be a healer.

Cinema must be some sort of revelation.

Audiences should not identify with a hero who is generally a pervert.

James Bond is a pervert.

Superman is a pervert.

Superman! Imagine him with a woman.

He would have an ejaculation so big that it would destroy her body, exit through her brain and destroy a building!

Superman is a being who can't make love, because he'd kill his partner.

This boy was a homosexual. His name was Nicky.

I found him at the Max's City Bar.

He was dressed up as a woman and he seduced me when he got drunk, because he took off his wig, threw it on the table and revealed a bald head.

I thought, "This is fantastic."

He was a great artist and helped me make the costumes for the film.

This lady... used to wander the film studios looking for work as an extra.

I took her in. Everyone made fun of her because they thought she was mad.

I loved her because she showed up with green hair and green pubic hair.

She was wearing a pubic wig.

The most fascinating thing was that she had no belly button. It was amazing.

Because I am a mystic, I immediately thought of Eve.

Eve had no belly button because she was born from Adam's rib.

I loved building that tall toilet.

That's my golden dream - to sit on the toilet with my legs dangling.

That's the perfect, mystical toilet.

I thought that the force of falling excrement could create free electricity.

If you raise the toilet and shit, the turds generate electricity when they fall.

If all mankind shitted from a two-meter high toilet, we could have all the electricity we wanted.

This is a relationship between the universal mother and an intellectual.

This mad, flamboyant character is an intellectual who deals with electronics, which in those days were not so much in vogue.

He is a genius mathematician and has a tremendous Oedipus complex.

I've always considered Uranus to represent the dark and depraved side of humans.

That's how I see Uranus.

It's the farthest, most mysterious and darkest of all planets.

It's related to the deep, dark energy in the Universe.

It's related to the unconscious.

I foresaw the use of computers and the Internet.

Many people ask me how I feel about technological developments, about the Internet and so on, things like robots.

I think that if we have got this far, it's because man was created for it.

Spiders make spider's webs, and nobody finds it surprising.

Man makes machines because that is part of their brain programming.

Machines are sacred.

It's also in man's encoding to explore the mystery of life and to know that there is a message for us.

We only know one percent of the matter in the Universe.

We must explore and create life. It's something positive.

But it is also a double-edged sword.

The Internet has globalized the world, but it could become a global dictatorship.

These things are dangerous, but when hasn't human development been dangerous?

Everything is dangerous, but mankind will move forward, because we have three essential missions - number one, to know the whole Universe, secondly, to survive for as long as the Universe does, and thirdly, we must become the Universe's conscience.

This is one of the producers. He left with $300,000 and we never saw him again.

He just ran off, disappeared, and left us hanging.

I had an assistant, Robert Taicher, a young American man.

He said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "Nothing. I'm going to wait, "and someone will bring me $300,000 wrapped up in a newspaper."

He said, "You are crazy." And I said, "Yes, I am."

I sat around waiting.

Six weeks went by and people were getting desperate.

I said, "Let's wait. Miracles happen."

Taicher, who had disappeared -

I thought he had deserted us, came back with a parcel wrapped in newspaper containing $300,000 and gave it to me.

His father was one of the biggest footwear retailers in America.

He was a millionaire. So he took $300,000 and gave it to me. And that's how we finished the film.


I had trouble finding this boy.

I asked my gay assistant to find me a boy with big testicles.

This is about Nazism and I had this huge weapon built.

I wanted a Nazi ceremony.

This man had taken LSD when we shot the scene.

At the end of the scene, I said, "Cut!"

He thought I meant, "Cut off his testicles!"

He almost cut them off.

You see there... "Cut!" Ouch!

These hair styles weren't in vogue at that time.

They were invented for the film. Nowadays they are very common.

The scandal in Mexico grew as I shot The Holy Mountain.

I got attacked. 2,000 people marched equating me with Manson, the killer, and saying they wanted me dead, or out of Mexico.

It was a great scandal and a real struggle to shoot.

The Church accused me of performing black masses.

Echeverria, the minister of defense, threatened to kill me.

I fled to New York with all the footage because they came to my house.

There was a paramilitary group called "The Hawks".

They were dressed as civilians and started shouting, "Jodorowsky, we are going to kill you," in the middle of the night.

I was afraid they would bomb my house, and my children were there.

I gathered my family together and moved to New York.


For me, this is one of the most interesting sequences, because in it I reveal the artifice of special effects.

In the slaughter of the students, you see how the special effects are made.

I show it openly, but the scenes are just as dramatic.


Smoke moves through an alley. It was natural, it wasn't done electronically.

It's a divine miracle.

This man is an architect.

I think one of the greatest evils of contemporary society is architecture, because of its geometric, linear forms.

For instance, right now we are talking inside a cube.

But the brain is not cubic or geometric, it has an organic form.

Homes do not match our spirit, our organism, and this provokes a series of psychological diseases.

This is about pedophilia, child abuse.

Back then, nobody spoke about this issue.

Obviously he's a child abuser.

All the children are dressed up as Minnie Mouse.

This is modern architecture with its typical buildings.

Everybody here is crippled.

Blocks of flats... It's tragic.

It's a snapshot of multi-family units.

Gaudí is the only architect who has ever moved me to tears.

Gaudí used to improvise. When he was building, if he found a stone or a sculpture that he liked, he would incorporate it into his project.

He was the first one to break dishes and make mosaics.

I consider him one of the greatest geniuses.

I have a deep admiration for Gaudí, Leonardo Da Vinci and Cocteau.

They are versatile. They don't practice just one form of art.

They include all forms of art in their work.

This was the most famous transvestite in Mexico.

His name was Shalimar, like the French perfume.

Gustavo Alatriste, who had produced some of Buñuel's films, bought The Holy Mountain.

Afraid of the scandal in Mexico, he decided not to screen it as it was.

He owned an experimental cinema chain.

He had the film edited for his theaters and cut out 40 minutes.

Nowadays Mexico sends out this film to represent Mexican cinema, finally.

I decided to film The Holy Mountain in English because Allen Klein gave me the money to do it.

He was American and I wanted to shoot the film in English so that he could show it in the States and get his money back.

Here I show how we'll be living in coffins, which actually happened in Japan later.

In Japan they have hotels where you can't lie down.

They didn't exist when I shot this.

I had a premonition that we'd live in coffins.

I wanted to show subtly the transition between the different parts, without being too obvious about it.

The sky links them all together.

We didn't ask for permission to shoot this helicopter scene from the street.

We just did it and ran away.

We got an actor to wear a police uniform and to stop the traffic.

We shot the scene and ran off.

The introduction of the nine characters ends here.

Now the adventure begins.


All of these mountains do exist.

In the Far East and in... Central Europe... the mountain, just like the alchemist, is a very common symbol.

The Buddhists go to the mountain to meditate.

It's where Heaven and Earth come together.

There is an alchemical legend about these immortal men, a group of men who live on Earth and are about 30,000 years old.

They're called the Knights of Heliopolis.

It's an alchemical legend.

Here is the rose cross.

And here are the wise men around the enneagram.

Ever since Freud, it has been said that the son steals fire from his father.

Knowledge has to be stolen. Nobody gives it to you.

The gods need you to make an effort.

Nothing is free. You have to make an effort.


I love this eye-shaped set.


I didn't tell them what to do. When they threw the money into the fire, each character tossed it in a different way.

Isla tosses them one by one.

This one tosses them like a card player.

The millionaire counts it before tossing it.

The thief keeps it.

This woman sows.

The Nazi thinks it over and then brutally tosses it.

This man is greedy and takes his time before doing it.

The rich man is the one who takes the longest.

A banknote fell from the sky, that was a miracle.


The burning of the sculptures was the end of my elegant phase, my art-film photography.

Once these bodies were burnt, I realized it was time to go back to reality.

I simplified the shooting style, and made it more like cinéma vérite.

This is the last aesthetic scene.

From here on, the style changes.

Not only do I burn the statues, but I burn my style as well.

I burn my vision of cinema. I don't want it anymore.

It's too beautiful.

It's too thought-out and aesthetic.

We move on to something more real.

When we started shooting, Corkidi, the DP, was delighted, but then he became my enemy because he didn't understand anything.

He didn't get it. He liked the beginning because of the aesthetical qualities, but when I went into reality and filmed a scene in Monte Albán and gave hallucinogenic mushrooms to all the actors, he shot it all wrong. I couldn't use the footage because he didn't get it.

This is a Mexican witch doctor, a masseur.

He is an authentic witch doctor, not an actor.

He is a real shaman in his real environment.

You can tell by looking at his hands.

Now the movie is seeking the truth, but not in a fairytale, in real life.


This is in the Tepoztlan area, which is said to have been the Mexican Eden, where the gods lived. It was a sacred land.

I said, "Let's film at the top of that mountain and we'll find a master."

And this woman was waiting.

No one had told her anything, and she said, "I've come to help you."

She is another shaman who lives in the mountains.

Look at how precisely she dishes out the soup.

The process is flawless, perfect, just like the master herself.

I didn't give directions to the shamans.

They did as they pleased and I used that material.

When we got to Monte Albán, another shaman was waiting for us.

I knew I'd always find a master in these places who would teach us something, and there he was.

They are not actors, they live there.

They are wandering among plants, gathering pollen with their bodies.

They're in contact with nature.

This is the world of the sacred plants, which produce hallucinations.

The knife cut looks fake, but it's something that I did on purpose.

The actors spent two months locked in a house, sleeping only four hours a day and doing all kinds of exercises.

I gave them hallucinogenic mushrooms.

They completely tuned into it.


Castañeda had tackled the issue of human transference to animals, which is a magical practice.

I was in an Argentinean restaurant in Mexico called El Rincón Argentino, where the only thing you can get is huge steaks and wine.

I was sitting there and Castañeda showed up.

I said, "Can we have a chat?" He said he had seen El Topo twice and was interested in talking to me. I said, "Where should we meet?

"Should I go to your hotel?" He said, "No, I'll come to yours." And he did.

It was the Camino Real Hotel. We had a chat.

I told him, "I'm not sure whether you're a genius, a charlatan, or a madman.

"What can we do together? Why are we together?"

He said, "I've got an offer to make The Teachings of Don Juan into a film, "but I don't want to do it with some Hollywood star."

I said, "Be careful they don't do a big action, special effects movie.

"One should go to the real location and shoot it with the real Don Juan."

"Well..." he said, but he couldn't carry on, because his got a terrible stomach pain and his diarrhea started.

He said, "I drank water in the mountains and never got sick, "and now I drink water here in Mexico and I'm shitting myself."

I said, "I'll take you to your hotel." He said, "Yes, please."

I took him to his hotel in a taxi and that was the last time I saw him.

This legend of The Missing Person is a classic Chinese story.

They have evolved and forgotten about themselves to the point that they no longer recognize their own image.

They think they're seeing someone else. They've forgotten about themselves.

They think somebody has drowned. It's a Chinese story.


I taught the monkey to do a mudra, a Zen position.

It took me hours to get the monkey to place its hands like a Zen monk.

This is miles away from the previous place. It's a Mayan pyramid.

I visited the Mexican pyramids.

The actors were so engrossed in the experience, that they were actually crying over their own death.

They are not acting, they are real people crying.

I wanted the last part to be a documentary.

I wanted to go from a fictional film to a documentary.

I filmed it chronologically, so that the actors could feel the change.


During the two months of shooting, every time we started filming, it stopped raining.

We finished shooting, and it started raining again.

Each day was a miracle. You can see the sky is cloudy.


We had to pay the guard so that he allowed us to get up there.

I filmed 35 hours' worth of material, but much of it got damaged, so I couldn't use it.

I had to make do with this, which is all that was left.

The shooting lasted six months because they stopped us for six weeks.

We traveled all over Mexico.

During post-production, Allen Klein rented out an apartment in New York for me and for the editor, an old man who had edited El Topo.

His name was Federico Landeros. He'd worked on about 2,000 Mexican films.

He spent about three months in New York working on this film.

We also recorded the sound in a New York studio and I brought in a Mexican sound effects specialist, Gavira.

He'd make noises by punching his stomach, playing with little gadgets...

Everything was improvised. It was fantastic.

Friedkin saw him and asked, "Please, give him to me."

So my Gavira made the sound effects for The Exorcist and won an Oscar.

This was a shrimp boat in the middle of...

What's its name?

The Caribbean Sea.

There was a scene I couldn't shoot. I wanted us all to jump into the sea, to get in the infinite waters.

We jumped into the sea and started to drown.

The crew was so busy throwing ropes and so on to save us, that they didn't shoot us.

That scene in the water got lost.

We all jumped in without thinking that this was open water and there were sharks.

We were living out a mystical adventure.

When I made The Holy Mountain, I wanted to break the rules of film-making.

First of all, I broke the "story" rule.

Cinema as we know it, which comes mainly from America, consists of a first act, where the hero is reluctant to be part of some action he is confronted with.

Then something happens and the hero gets involved.

There's a second act, where he's got enemies and allies, and a third act, where everything gets solved.

In The Holy Mountain I broke that structure. I didn't want to tell a story.

I wanted to present characters and express myself differently.

The ego suffers deviations.

We have paranoid deviations, schizophrenic deviations, exhibitionism and narcissism.

The ego suffers all kinds of deviations.

The thief gets rid of his deviations when he throws the other one into the sea.

He gets rid of his monstrosity.

A deviated ego is defined in terms of what one has.

"I am what I have got."

When your ego is what you want it to be, and not what others want it to be, you have succeeded in molding it and now it is at the service of your essence.

They are on dry land and now another part of the film begins.

Everybody cut their hair for real.


This is Iztaccíhuatl, a famous mountain near Mexico City.

This is the Rodan statue, "The Thinker", symbolizing the flaws of intellectualism.

Here are those who almost achieved complete enlightenment, but they stopped short at the social level, at fame, at success.

It's a success-oriented world, as if success were the only goal.

I read a book that marked me profoundly called the Bhagavad-Gita.

It is a Hindu sacred book whose first precept is, "Think of the work, not about the result."

Second, "Let your work express your inner god."

And third, "Approach your work as you would a sacred sacrifice."

My artistic ambition grew - I wanted to make Dune, and I got involved in a project so big that it was not feasible.

I thought, "It's OK." I didn't make the film, but failure doesn't mean anything, it just means changing paths.

This character is inspired by the poet Allen Ginsberg.

I was trying to say you couldn't reach enlightenment with this kind of poetry.

It is merely a step on the road to it.

This is an attack on Timothy Leary and his drugs.

I poke fun at him.

My point is that you will not achieve enlightenment through LSD either.

It is important to know that if you drink, have drugs and smoke, your life is more intense, but it is also shorter.

An artist's struggle is very long.

You must be very patient and persevering. You can't give up.

It takes years to get what you want, so you need to live a very long life.

At my 75 years of age, I am just a beginner.

This man represents those who seek fulfillment by making great efforts.


They have left the mundane behind, they leave history, in order to seek anonymous enlightenment.

And this is when we actually started climbing up this mountain.

Two months earlier, seventeen people had died here in a storm.

For a mountain-climbing scene, film-makers tend to use tricks.

I decided we had to climb it.

But we got exhausted with every step because of the altitude.

We couldn't film for long because we got tired.

The disciples are getting in touch with nature, externally and internally.

When they climb up the mountain, they confront the telluric forces, and their internal forces, their inner demons, and they get over them.

Just like they get over the cold, they get over their inner demons.

Another mountain, and another one, and another one...

You must never stop, because the world is a permanent impermanence.

You must go toward the impermanence with perseverance, with dedication and faith.


It took us one, two, three... four days to climb the mountain.

When we reached the top, we could finally breathe and no longer felt tired.

I am not sure why, but the exhaustion disappeared.

It's like a finished effort.


We had a tiger and a monkey. It started getting cold.

A storm was coming, but I kept filming.

I wanted the horses to be buried deeper in the ground, but the soil was too hard.


In this sequence, I interpret every character's dreams.

I asked them, "What is your greatest fear?"

And they told me about their obsessions.

These are real fighting dogs.

They all confront their own hell. Not only the story's hell, but their own.

They all went crazy in this sequence, because they saw their own hell.

This man was very scared of castration.

He's being castrated by his mother. The tree is covered in castrated chickens.


This man was very scared of spiders, and not because he was a homosexual.

Spiders are sexual symbols. These are tarantulas.

I am terrified of tarantulas.

But this was the last shot of the day, so I grabbed them with my hands.


This one feared the androgynous, because he played Venus.

He was the narcissistic one in the film and feared the androgynous.

This person is half man, half woman. Look at the face.

The breasts become wild animals.

It's very simple, but surreal.

We're near the end. We're about to destroy the last illusion.

The whole film is a constant destruction of illusions, in order to get to reality.


The Holy Mountain is related to El Topo.

It isn't a continuation of the story in a linear sense, but it reflects my evolutionary process.

El Topo is a self-portrait of my soul.

And in The Holy Mountain you can see that there is a greater awareness.

Something incredible happened in this scene.

The actor, who had lost it a bit, gave me the blow for real, and I still have a scar on my neck. I can show it to you. He nearly killed me.

Luckily, it wasn't a real sword.

Otherwise... I'd have been decapitated.

This is like the story of Isaac, when Abraham is going to sacrifice his son at God's request and God replaces his son with a lamb.

The thief can't follow the others. He is sent back to the real world.

"Get married, have children, be happy in the real world.

"Don't look for other things. Die peacefully," because there is a part of us that will never reach the Holy Mountain.

We seek perfection, but even the Buddha has a body.

And Christ, despite being God, has a human body.

The human body is mortal.

We must accept that part of ourselves and set it free in the real world.

That part must go back to the world.

The spiritual, enlightened being, must succeed in the world.

He is not a victim and must learn to succeed in the world.

The master played a trick on them to keep them going.

It's like taunting a donkey with a carrot to make it walk.

He tells them, "You will not find immortality, but you'll find reality."

I didn't intend to end the film this way.

My initial idea was that they would float in the air and become immortal.

But I fell down the mountain during a storm and thought we were going to die, so I hammered my axe into a rock and said, "I can't die. I must finish this film."

And I decided to end it in the real world.

We're mortal and cinema is an illusion.

I am not giving the viewers what they are hoping for.

They expect the characters to levitate and perform a miracle.

I'm not doing that, I'm not telling fairytales.

This ending caused a great controversy. It enraged many people.

Some people liked it. Of course!

You expect them to become immortal, and, all of a sudden, you see it's just a film.

And what's the enneagram for? I throw it out. Enough of this!

Enough of symbols!

It was a surprise for the actors.

They refused to talk to me for a long time. They hated me.

Now it fades and we see what cinema really is: a pure light.

Allen Klein was very enthusiastic about my work.

He gave me a million dollars to do whatever I wanted.

And then he brought me to America so I could work on the soundtrack, because I had received death threats in Mexico.

He wanted me to make The Story of O.

It was an erotic film.

He was very excited because...

We were going to make a huge commercial success.

But I decided I didn't want to make an erotic film.

I remember we were in England. Allen Klein talked to some producers and he had given me $200,000 to make the film.

I suddenly ran off. I just vanished.

I left everything in their hands and went to make Dune.

He told me, "You'll never make that film. It's too big a project.

"And nobody will ever see your films." He was very angry.

From that moment on, my films were not shown.

He had good reasons to be angry and I had my reasons to do as I pleased.

30 years went by,