Well now. Here’s a news story I never thought I’d be writing. Fans of controversial filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky will be delighted to know that two more of the director’s most bizarre and heavily edited films, The Holy Mountain and El Topo, are heading to Blu-ray!
Yes, you read that right. Countering Severin’s release of Santa Sangre (review here), Anchor Bay has officially announced the coming of these hard-to-find-a-decent-copy-of exploitation classics.
Dig on all the details below courtesy of Blu-ray.com.
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, in conjunction with ABKCO Music and Records, has revealed the official details for Alejandro Jodorowski’s cult movies El Topo and The Holy Mountain, which, as previously reported (see Blu-ray.com, February 4), are slated for a Blu-ray release on April 26. Both films have received new, director-supervised HD transfers (in 2K for The Holy Mountain).
El Topo, first released theatrically in 1969, made Jodorowsky a household name with the counterculture crowd of the early 1970s. El Topo provided the template for “Midnight Movie Madness,” screening seven nights a week at midnight for seven straight months at the infamous Elgin Cinema in New York. Paradoxically, the film was thoroughly panned by the film critic of the New York Times, but it was then lauded by the paper’s art critic, who called it “a monumental work of filmic art.” To say that El Topo became a “cult classic” is something of an understatement in light of its surprisingly broad acceptance fueled, in part, by ringing endorsements from John Lennon and Yoko Ono that made it a commercial success in its own time. The film conflates classic American western and avant-garde European sensibilities with Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and mystic El Topo (played by writer/director Jodorowsky) attempts to defeat four sharp-shooting rivals on a bizarre path to allegorical self-awareness and resurrection.
The Holy Mountain was Jodorowsky’s high budget follow-up to the worldwide success of El Topo and took his psychedelic allegorical mastery to another level. He prepared for making the film by undergoing a psycho-spiritual boot camp, training in the spiritual arts and rituals that included a week of sleep deprivation under the supervision of a Zen master and LSD trips shepherded by a guru. Prior to shooting the film, the crew lived in isolation under Jodorowsky’s direction for a month. Visually and viscerally, the film is a masterwork that benefited greatly from a labor intensive 2K scan restoration, which greatly enhanced The Holy Mountain’s color palette from its initial release.
When it was screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, riots broke out in response to Jodorowsky’s flood of sacrilegious imagery and existential symbolism. The Holy Mountain chronicles a quest for enlightenment, pitting illusion against the truth as The Alchemist, played by the director, assembles a group of people from all walks of life to represent the planets in the solar system. Strange and provocative mystical rites to divest them of their worldly baggage ensue as they ascend the Holy Mountain to displace the immortal gods who secretly rule the universe.
The Holy Mountain will be on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 Annex in Long Island City, New York beginning May 22, 2011. It will simultaneously be shown on multiple screens of varying shapes and sizes throughout the exhibition’s run with visiting artists and filmmakers offering lectures and master classes on Jodorowsky and his cultural impact. The Chilean-born, Paris-based Jodorowsky will be in attendance at the exhibition’s opening.
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