Archive for Aleister Crowley

THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER: A Review in Four Parts

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2013 by goregirl

Scorpio Rising and Lucifer Rising have nothing in common thematically other than both have the word “Rising” in their title. I paired these two up because they were my personal favourites of the collection.

SCORPIO RISING (1964)

Scorpio Rising was made while Kenneth Anger was staying in Brooklyn with his friend Marie Menken. Anger became acquainted with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who met every Saturday at Coney Island’s Cyclone rollercoaster. The group allowed Anger to film their lives. Anger shoots footage in the men’s garages, workshops and bedrooms as well as a Halloween party and a bike race. The result is Scorpio Rising a documentary of sorts like only Anger could do. Anger comments that none of the men in the film were gay. The men did not want their significant others filmed which Anger said made the film appear “queerer” than it was.  Anger remarks on the film’s title in the commentary; Scorpio is the sign of the Zodiac that rules the sex organs and machinery. The two are connected so it seemed logical to title his film Scorpio Rising.

screenshot-from-2013-06-13-185455Anger added the stud work to one of the motorcyclist’s leather jackets to use for his credits.

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The motorcyclist Anger calls Scorpio carried a scorpion amulet for luck.

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Working on their handmade motorcycles was their passion. Anger calls it American Mechanical Folkart.

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A wind up motorcycle toy moves along the floor as Peggy March sings Wind Up Doll.

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This motorcyclist admires his lavender and white bike he calls The Grim Reaper. The motorcycle is his mistress.

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Vanity; sometimes men decorate themselves.

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This is Scorpio. Scorpio is a huge Marlon Brando and James Dean fan. The TV coincidently was playing The Wild One while Anger was filming which he worked into the footage.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 19:09:14Scorpio in transit to a Halloween party.

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Anger cuts in footage from a religious film called The Last Journey to Jerusalem. The film was delivered to him by accident and Anger kept it. The Lutheran Church tried to sue Anger over his use of their footage but lost due to fair use laws.

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This shot is an homage to Bob Mizer’s Physique Pictorial art magazine.

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Anger bought four kegs for the Halloween party.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 19:11:33Sex and machinery.

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A flag and checker set from Anger’s Nazi memorabilia collection. His flags were stolen during the shoot.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 19:16:12screenshot-from-2013-06-13-191804Anger juxtaposes pictures of Jesus Christ and Marlon Brando.

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Anger includes footage from a bike race. One of the motorcyclists died during this race; he had a tattoo that said Blessed Blessed Oblivion on his arm.

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Death smoking a youth cigarette on the cover of a 1938 copy of Look Magazine.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 19:25:56More of Anger’s stud work on a leather belt to end the film.

LUCIFER RISING (1972)

Kenneth Anger had a larger budget for Lucifer Rising than any of his previous films. The volcano photography at the beginning of the film was taken when Kenneth Anger joined a BBC team to capture footage of an erupting volcano near Iceland. Anger is fascinated with volcanoes and feels they tie in with the primal nature of creation theme of Lucifer. Lucifer Rising is all about Aleister Crowley and Thelema. Aleister Crowley wrote a poem called Hymn to Lucifer. Lucifer is the God of beauty and light and the literal translation of his name is I bring the light. Anger, a follower of Crowley’s Thelema is very proud of his library of Aleister Crowley books and features his collection in the film. I posted two tracks last week from Bobby Beausoleil’s score for Lucifer Rising. Bobby Beausoleil composed and recorded the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising while serving a life sentence in prison for his association with Charles Manson that resulted in the murder of Gary Hinman. Lucifer Rising is Anger’s highly visual, mesmerizing ode to Crowley, Thelema and the vastness and power of nature.

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The flaming titles were created by visual/special effects artist Wally Veevers.

screenshot-from-2013-06-13-204714Anger accompanied the BBC to film a volcano erupting near Iceland.

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Actress Myriam Gibril as Isis the Magician. Anger comments on Ms. Gibril’s enthusiasm to bare her breasts and designed a costume that would show them off.

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Director Donald Cammell (Performance, White of the Eye, Demon Seed) as Osiris Lord of Death.

screenshot-from-2013-06-13-205037screenshot-from-2013-06-13-205131Screenshot from 2013-06-13 20:52:02Canadian motorcyclist Haydn Couts as “The Adept”. Waking from slumber, sitting on an Egyptian throne and washing off blood in a very cool bathroom. Part of Lucifer Rising was filmed in the apartment of art dealer Robert Fraser where Anger was staying while Fraser was in India.

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Marianne Faithfull as Lilith. Shades of grey adorn Lilith representing night and fog. The female demon of discontent is a powerful but unhappy creature.

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Six priests (six is a sacred number according to Crowley) climbing ancient stone steps in the Black Forest at night are juxtaposed with Lilith climbing the same steps in the daylight. The sacred solar temple in the film was rediscovered by the Nazis who used it to initiate the Hitler Youth.

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The sacred solar temple altar.

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Anger recreated Crowley’s temple pictured above is the magic circle.

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Lucifer wears a jacket with his name on it. Lesley Huggins who dons the jacket was an authentic demon according to Anger.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:01:35Musician Jimmy Page holding The Stele of Revealing as he observes a photo of Aleister Crowley.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:02:35Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:03:48The makeup, costumes and sets are magnificent! Anger’s use of bold colors was especially appealing.

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Lucifer Mark VI Cake.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:06:12This scarf was used by Anger to wrap Marianne Faithfull’s wrists after a suicide attempt.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:08:08A psychedelic shot of Osiris.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:08:21Osiris holding “the little servants” which he drops into the Nile one by one.

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Anger uses footage from Dave Butler’s 1930 film Just Imagine. Anger thought Lesley Huggins looked like the film’s “Idol on Mars”.

Screenshot from 2013-06-13 21:09:45Osiris and Isis.

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More visual effects from Wally Veevers who created the UFOs in Lucifer Rising.

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The Colossi of Nimrud in Upper Egypt. Anger burned the script of Lucifer Rising in the background. This static image lingers for some time while his script burns away.

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Artwork done by Page Wood.

THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER: A Review in Four Parts

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2013 by goregirl

I specifically paired up Rabbit’s Moon and Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome because they were my two favourite films from the first volume of The Films of Kenneth Anger. All of Anger’s films are visually enticing but I think the imagery in these two is particularly imaginative.

RABBIT’S MOON (1950/1979)

Rabbit’s Moon was filmed in Les Films du Panthéon in 1950 but was not completed until 1970 after Anger retrieved the footage from the Cinémathèque Française. A sixteen minute version of the film was released in 1971 and featured a soundtrack that included The Capris, Mary Wells, The Dells, The Flamingos and The El Dorados. There was a second shorter version released in 1979 that looped A Raincoat’s It Came In The Night. For your viewing pleasure I have included the 1979 version with A Raincoat’s awesome song that will not leave my head!

RABBIT’S MOON a film by Anger

Anger was inspired by a Japanese fairytale. What appears to us in North America as a man’s face looks more like the silhouette of a rabbit from the Japanese perspective. They have built an elaborate fairytale around the rabbit who lives in the moon; when the moon is full children leave rice cakes out for the critter. Anger incorporates into the story the well-known French characters Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbine.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:07:25Anger was given four weeks to work in Les Films du Panthéon. In that time he had to write the story, build the sets, make the costumes and find the right performers. The films actors Andre Soubeyran, Claude Revenant and Nadine Valence came from the Marcel Marceau School of Mime. All the leaves scattered about the set were hand cut of crystal paper.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:07:46The Rabbit.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:08:12The Moon. Pierrot longs for the moon.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:11:01The two child characters were played by cameraman Oleg Tourjansky’s children.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:29:32Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:11:58Harlequin the mischief-maker.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:13:11The eye image corresponded with the song Anger chose; I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos. Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:31:00Pierrot the sad lover instantly falls for Columbine and offers her the moon.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:17:53Pierrot follows a rabbit into another realm. The shredded silver used in the other realm was inspired by Josef von Sternberg’s The Scarlet Empress.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 15:18:20The blue filter gives the film a dreamy and magical appearance and repeats and overlaps are used to amp up the other-worldliness. Kenneth Anger’s Rabbit’s Moon is an exquisite fairytale. I prefer the original sixteen minute version but either version is a resplendent amazing experience.

INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (1954)

I mentioned in part one of this feature that Kenneth Anger follows Aleister Crowley’s religion/philosophy Thelema. Anger’s 1954 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome was the first I watched from the set that included a healthy dose of Aleister Crowley inspired images. Cabalistic symbols are shown throughout and a picture of Crowley smoking a pipe is flashed. Anger mentioned Crowley several times in the commentary. A variety of historical, mythological, religious and fictional characters are inaugurated into the Pleasure Dome. Anger includes the character Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Cesare is played by director Curtis Harrington whose films Night Tide and Queen of Blood made my top ten lists for 1961 and 1966 respectively. The inspiration for the film came after Anger attended a ‘Come as Your Madness’ themed Halloween party. Author Anaïs Nin wore a birdcage on her head to the party which her character Astarte wears in the film. Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome‘s name is from the poem Kubla Khan written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome‘s soundtrack is a complete performance of Czech composer Leos Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass. Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome is an epic thirty-eight minutes; the costumes, the colors, the creation of another world superbly surreal, mysterious and wondrous! A masterpiece!

 

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:31:53Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:32:10Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’s titles were painted by Paul Mathison who plays Pan in the film.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:33:42Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome was filmed in the home of Samson De Brier who also plays several roles in the film; Lord Shiva, Osiris, Nero and The Great Beast.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:34:30Samson De Brier as The Great Beast.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:35:09Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:36:28Marjorie Cameron as The Scarlet Woman.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:38:30Painter Renate Druks as Lilith; The Female Demon of Discontent.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:41:02Samson De Brier as Emperor Nero

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:59:10Katy Kadell as Isis.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:42:40Artist Paul Mathison as Pan.

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Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:45:36Author Anaïs Nin as Astarte; Goddess of the Moon.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:46:38 Samson De Brier as Lord Shiva.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:46:58Joan Whitney as Aphrodite.

Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:55:02Kenneth Anger as Hecate.

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Screenshot from 2013-06-09 18:58:03 The pace becomes psychotic in the film’s finale. A continually changing barrage of overlapping images made for a trippy finale. Anger includes snippets from his earlier film Puce Moment as well as footage from the silent film L’Inferno.

Inaguration of the Pleasure Dome‘s visuals are truly inspired. It  is a hypnotic, beautiful and unique film and in my opinion is one of the best in the collection.

THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER: A Review in Four Parts

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2013 by goregirl

American underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger has been noted as an influence by two of my favourite directors, John Waters and David Lynch; for that and a million other reasons I will be dedicating four days to Kenneth Anger. I recently watched Fantoma’s The Films of Kenneth Anger Volumes one and two. The two volumes showcase ten (officially nine as there are two versions of his film Rabbit’s Moon in the set) of Anger’s films from his Magick Lantern Cycle. This surreal, violent, homoerotic, melodramatic, esoteric, gorgeous spectacle of a collection is nothing short of a masterpiece!

Kenneth Anger’s films are clearly personal, wildly creative and completely unique. Anger’s use of light and color is exceptional. The costumes are incredible and the use of music is always interesting. Kenneth Anger’s 1947 film Fireworks was the first of his titles to gain recognition. The film’s material got Anger slapped with obscenity charges that he was later acquitted of. It was bold to be an openly gay filmmaker in 1947. Anger is also a follower of Aleister Crowley’s religion/philosophy Thelema, These themes among others are included in his hypnotic and beautiful films. It is no surprise that this avant-garde pioneer has influenced so many filmmakers.

The Films of Kenneth Anger VOLUME ONE
FIREWORKS (1947)
PUCE MOMENT (1949)
RABBIT’S MOON (1950) – 16 minute version
EAUX D’ARTIFICE (1953)
INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (1954)

The Films of Kenneth Anger VOLUME TWO
SCORPIO RISING (1964)
INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER (1969)
KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS (1070)
LUCIFER RISING (1972)
RABBIT’S MOON (1950/1979)

Not that I needed another reason to re-watch the films in this collection but they include commentary from Kenneth Anger so I gave each one a second viewing. Anger’s commentary is full of fascinating and fun facts about the creation of each film. I will be citing Anger’s commentary often over the next few days. I am kicking things off with reviews for three of Anger’s earliest films; Fireworks, Puce Moment and Eaux d’Artifice.

FIREWORKS (1947)

Information about Fireworks from The Films of Kenneth Anger Volume One
“Fireworks was first publicly screened in a version with no opening titles. A title sequence and narrated prologue were later added. In 1988 Anger exhibited a version with hand painting. The only copy of which was subsequently lost in a fire. A later version featured a new title sequence and was printed with a blue color cast. UCLA has preserved the first two release versions in 35mm from surviving early 16mm prints and is preserving the final version in 16mm from the reconstructed 16mm color and black and white A/B rolls. This print is the version containing Anger’s prologue.”

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:01:55Kenneth Anger filmed Fireworks at the age of 17 over one weekend while his parents were away at a funeral. Kenneth Anger plays the central character; a dreamer with well-built sailors on his mind. He meets a handsome fellow in a bar whom he asks for a light. The sailor takes an exception to the request and roughs the dreamer up. Later the sailor returns with several of his friends to teach the dreamer a lesson.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:05:23Fireworks is Anger’s earliest surviving film; it is a daring homoerotic dream sequence partially inspired by the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 in Los Angeles. Anger recollects images of rampaging sailors on the commentary. The film’s sailors are friends of Anger who were in fact actually sailors. Anger’s dream while homoerotic is also quite terrifying.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:06:17A well-built sailor shows off his muscles. Anger used a canvas from the set of an old Hollywood Western for his bar scene.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:08:25Kenneth Anger.

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Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:10:02The individual against the mob; Anger is cornered by several sailors carrying chains and is brutalized. The violence is quite jarring and fairly graphic.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:11:31Milk does a body good. Anger’ uses pouring milk to great effect during the violence.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:13:29A painting done by Anger entitled The Furious Jesus and a dried up pine tree from the previous Christmas. The Christmas tree fully decorated moves toward the furious Jesus like a tinsel-covered erection. .

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:13:51Pictures burning in the fire.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 17:15:16A clay hand-made by Anger is used as a prop. Earlier in the film it is seen missing fingers but appears in the end with fingers intact. The hand falls into the water and signifies the end.

Fireworks was a fascinating and visually impressive first entry in the collection.

PUCE MOMENT (1949)

Puce Moment was an idea born from a larger project called Puce Women. Sadly Anger never received the financing he needed to complete the project. The film features Yvonne Marquis who Anger thought had an interesting silent film actress quality about her. I agree.

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Puce MomentThe rack of dresses shown in the film’s opening were given to Anger by his grandmother who was a Costume Mistress during the silent film era of the 1920s. Puce was a popular color of the time and inspired the film’s theme. Puce Moment is short and sweet; visually enthralling and complimented perfectly by Jonathan Halper’s  Leaving My Old Life Behind/I Am A Hermit. Watch it now!

PUCE MOMENT a film by ANGER

EAUX D’ARTIFICE (1953)

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:02:21Eaux d’Artifice is a pun on the French term for fireworks. The film was made in 1953 in The Water Gardens of Tivioli Italy.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:03:28 The accompanying music for the film is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Winter”. The film was cut to fit the length of the song.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:04:26Anger takes advantage of the garden’s beautiful architecture and baroque statuary.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:06:57Water is the focus. Flowing down stairs, dancing in fountains, pouring from the mouths of concrete faces. The water in the gardens are moved by gravity.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:07:33This is Carmilla Salvatorelli. Anger specifically required a woman of small stature to make the garden seem more immense. Ms. Salvatorelli is only four feet tall.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:08:25A hand-tinted fan.  Gorgeous.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:10:05A beautiful shot of the damsel and the fountain appearing to become one.

Screenshot from 2013-06-08 18:10:38Anger showed the film to actress Louise Brooks who commented she thought it was his sexiest.There is something rather sexy about the presentation. Anger comments that he used natural sunlight with heavy red filters on black and white film. The bluish tinge really is stunning and enhances the water theme. Eaux d’Artifice mesmerizes.