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Abigail Susik

This essay examines diverse strands of surrealist influence in the cult film The Holy Mountain (1973), by Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Through a discussion of the historical context of Jodorowsky’s artistic production in the post-war period, as well as specific surrealist sources for the film, I argue that La montaña Sagrada is closely aligned with international surrealism in plot, set, and cinematography, but that it simultaneously formulates its own unique countercultural framework by building on this substrate of influence. Based largely upon the unfinished novel by French para-surrealist René Daumal, Le Mont Analogue: Roman d'aventures alpines, non euclidiennes et symboliquement authentiques (1952), The Holy Mountain evokes Jodorowsky’s fascination with surrealism since his involvement with theatre and poetry in Santiago, Chile during the 1950s, and his collaboration in the para-surrealist group Panique in France and Mexico starting in in 1962. Continuing his long-standing homage to Leonora Carrington and Antonin Artaud in The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky explores a saturated visual world of the occult, alchemy, the tarot, and altered states of consciousness in a barrage of experimental tactics throughout the film.

in Surrealism and film after 1945
Absolutely modern mysteries

Surrealism and film after 1945 is the only available volume devoted to the diverse permutations of international surrealist cinema after the canonical inter-war period. The collection features eleven essays by prominent scholars such as Tom Gunning, Michael Löwy, Gavin Parkinson, and Michael Richardson. An introductory chapter offers a historical overview of this period as well as a theoretical framework for new methodological approaches. Taken as a whole, the collection demonstrates that renowned figures such as Maya Deren, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Jan Švankmajer took part in shaping a vibrant and distinctive surrealist film culture following World War II. Interdisciplinary, intermedial, and international in scope, the volume follows upon recent advances in art history, which have demonstrated that surrealism’s post-war existence has been dynamic, vivid, and adventurous. Beyond the canonical inter-war period, surrealism immersed itself in myth and occultism, participated in anti-colonial struggles, influenced the rise of a youth counterculture, and presented new perspectives on sexuality and eroticism, all of which feed into the permutations of surrealist cinema. Addressing highly influential films and directors related to international surrealism during the second half of the twentieth century, this collection expands the purview of both surrealism and film studies by situating surrealism as a major force in post-war cinema.

Abstract only
Absolutely modern mysteries
Abigail Susik
and
Kristoffer Noheden

The early surrealist writings on film have secured their place in film history and the history of film theory, but the surrealist movement’s presence in post-war film culture remains a blind spot in film studies. The Introduction describes how surrealists turned to film criticism and film-making with renewed vigour following World War II, before discussing the methodological challenges involved in expanding the study of surrealist film to the post-World War II period. It argues that surrealist cinema and its widespread impact cannot be fully understood unless its drastically understudied post-war history is consistently acknowledged and charted. Discussing the post-war reception of surrealism, its political pursuits, and its widened interests generally, the Introduction sets out specific examples of how the history of surrealist film intersects with the movement’s broader history and outlook.

in Surrealism and film after 1945