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Holy Mountain in Newly Restored Print at Bloor Cinema

With the recent praise and attention for Spanish cinema, it's only fitting that Chilean-Mexican cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky finally gets his due. In anticipation of the upcoming boxset (to be released this Spring), Bloor Cinema will be screening Jodorowsky's most ambitious, mind-bending surreal creation The Holy Mountain (February 2-4) in a newly restored 35mm print. What makes this significant is that, up until recently, the distribution rights were once the subject of a lengthy and storied ownership battle that went on for decades. But now, not only has the 1973 film been released from the vaults, it's never looked so beautiful; brought back to the medium it was meant to be shown.

Not long ago, this phantasmagoric head-scratcher (along with his other masterpiece El Topo) could only be experienced via dilapidated film prints and cheap bootlegs found on eBay (the Japanese ones with the white circles covering up genitalia being the most infamous). But when Jodorowsky visited Bloor Cinema three years ago, he made the surprise announcement that his relationship with former Beatles manager Allen Klein (the man who held the rights) was no longer acrimonious, and that all was well. Thus, fans rejoiced in knowing that the cinematic kibosh—which could only be described as a selfish act—had finally been lifted, and we would at last get the chance to see Jodorowsky's best films remastered, uncensored, and preserved for years to come.

Describing The Holy Mountain to those who haven't seen it is almost as crazy as the film itself. It's a pretty difficult thing to do... but... well, here goes: the quasi-plot revolves around a man with messiah-like qualities, whose journey leads him to seven "spiritual guardians" each representing a planet. They all band together to get to the Holy Mountain in order to unravel the secret to immortality (and maybe even the universe), but not without perils and unusual diversions along the way. That's my interpretation anyway (not bad?). As one can guess, themeatically, The Holy Mountain is unabashedly bold—often to the point of grandiosity even—but it's impossible not to be impressed by such a singular, brilliant vision.


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