Where does your knowledge of religions come from?
From my father, in a way. He was an atheist. When I was four he said to me, “God doesn’t exist.” It gave rise to an incredible fear, so I started to read anything that could soothe me, metaphysically speaking. All religions, all esoteric movements, alchemy, the Kabbalah, I read about all this. Except astrology–that always pissed me off.
Hum…did you have a script for The Holy Moutain?
I had a frame but I made up the story little by little, every night.
You were said to shoot after taking magic mushrooms…
No, well… Actually, only one scene was shot after taking shrooms. And we messed up. We had to reach a holy place, the top of the pyramid. The actors and I decided to be as mystical as the place we were in. But I made a mistake, I did not force my cameraman to take magic mushrooms as well. He was sober. He saw us and laughed at us as you laugh at drunkards. He decided to put a distorting lens, to shoot us in a ridiculous, psychedelic way. It was a shitty effect on a beautiful, rare, and clean scene which you should not touch. So we climb the pyramid, guided by our supra-conscience. Once there I scratched the ground and I extracted a stone, a cube which we brought on the top. On the top we found a little flower, a very little flower: it was magic, pure. And the fucking cameraman put a distorting lens to capture that, as if we were monsters.. I wanted to kill him.
I realized what he did too late, we were in wild, virgin territories, I only saw the rushes once back in New York. I fled from Mexico because they wanted to put a bomb in my flat, yelling I was evil. I had 30 hours of film you know, he ruined more than a third. I was fool to believe that if the technicians were clean, they would work correctly. But on the contrary, they did not understand a thing about the movie, there was no communication between us and them. They looked at us as if we were wild beasts and thought they could do anything with the camera. When I think about what we messed up, I feel sick.