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on 15 September 2007
Quite a thorough and fact filled documentary of the life of Aleister Crowley that is somewhat marred by it's overall negative tone, the inclusion of unsubstantiated rumours originally spread by John Symonds in his book, The Great Beast, and some complete fabrications and distortions of fact. While the producers have clearly done their homework there is a feeling that they too frequently pander to sensationalism and the sinister. This leaves you with the feeling that you are watching a horror story rather than a documentary.

The dramatic reconstructions seem a little wooden and are given a certain negative spin for extra effect.
On the plus side there is good use of archive material and some nice, though brief, location film footage. The use of photographs is occasionally confusing like when the narrator is talking about one person while showing the photo of someone else.

It's probably the best Crowley documentary ever made. Unfortunately that's not really saying much. It's good-ish but could have been much better.
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on 18 September 2007
Before I give my views on this DVD, I would like to say that I am not a follower of Crowley, so hopefully my view will be more objective than either those for or against him. AC always did invite extreme reactions either way, so it's difficult to come across a more 'middle ground' viewpoint.

First of all, I didn't really feel that the film focussed a great deal on what Crowley was actually trying to achieve. Although he did practice in the darker side of the occult, his original intention was to work for the light and contact his Holy Guardian Angel - unfortunately, he disappeared off to Paris in the middle of a ritual that definitely should not have been left unfinished, and I think this is where the problems really started (I have heard from other sources that he failed to perform the banishing ritual before leaving and therefore left himself open to forces that possibly overtook him). The sad fact was that he was an extremely intelligent man but his repressive religious childhood caused him to take an extreme viewpoint on spiritual issues and he did seem to spend the rest of his life rebelling against this. Had he focussed more on his own positive attributes, he no doubt could have been a very successful writer in his time.

Back to the plot. The film makes no mention of what happened to Victor Neuburg after he left Crowley (again from other sources I have been led to believe that he died either from a virus or a fatal illness - a fate that seemed quite common amongst people who had dealings with Crowley). It also doesn't give his wife Rose credit for her contribution to his writing (it was apparently she who insisted that he go to the Museum in Cairo to be given the message that would lead him to perform the ritual in the Great Pyramid). The Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu was covered quite well, but the overall feeling you get is that Crowley seemed to spend most of his life taking off at the drop of a hat to some location which would stimulate his constant desire for novelty. This may be true but the overall feeling is that the sheer volume of his actual writings are skimped over, almost with a passing thought.

I was interested to see that Rick Wakeman provided the soundtrack for the film. Rick Wakeman is one of the finest keyboard players, if not the finest in the rock world (listen to 'Awaken' by Yes to hear his musical genius at its best) but I didn't realise he had any interest in Crowley. Perhaps he doesn't and just happened to accept the offer of doing it, but Jimmy Page would have seemed an obvious choice to write it with his interest in Crowley (though he did sell Boleskine 17 years ago and a lot of Crowley's magickal items so perhaps he is veering away from that now).

I have to say that I agree with the previous reviewer that the film did focus on the more negative aspects of Crowley's life, though I am relieved that it wasn't made by somebody from the rock world. I did hear a rumour that one rock singer (who shall remain nameless to protect their identity) wanted to make a film on Crowley, but I think the problem there would be that they would be too biased the other way, i.e. they would want to portray a more romantic image of Crowley as a great magus and spiritual revolutionary. My own view is that Crowley was a very intelligent man but like many people who follow any sort of spiritual path, he did have his shortcomings. Manners, as they say, not magick, maketh the man and Crowley could be incredibly cruel to some of his associates. Again, as the previous reviewer said, this is the only film on Crowley to date so it would be interesting to see if further films are made about him to see how they would portray him. Whatever peoples views on Crowley, he remains one of those people who hold your fascination, whether you are interested in his work or not. He certainly inspired some of the people whose music I listen to and so perhaps in his own subtle way, he has infiltrated peoples consciences without them realising it. Now that's what I call clever!
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on 11 October 2009
I bought this DVD as I hoped it would shed some new light on the Life of Aleister Crowley or indeed something new that was not previously known. It did not. This DVD which is mostly pictorial is taken from the book The Great Beast by John Symonds - a biography of Mr Crowley which was published in the 1970s. the DVD is very slanted and does not in any way acknowledge that Crowley had 2 families, that he loved his children and was deeply affected by their deaths and totally bereaved. His early family was a disaster as his first wife was an alcoholic - later in Sicily the child he had with Leah, another partner, became ill and died. Possibly this and his chronic asthma pushed him further down the road to drug addiction on heroin. For some strange reason this DVD suggests that Crowley might be related to George W Bush. I think not, as his parentage & heritage is clear in John Symonds book. It made me wonder if this DVD was made by born again christians! Try looking also at The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook by Sandy Robertson for interesting photos of Crowley. Crowley may have played the Celeb as the cover of this DVD shows but it was all an image and a sham. He was a great showman and could appear in many guises. In the 1920s he wrote "I have been faithless in many ways, I have tried in particular to combine my Mission with living the regular life of an English Gentleman and the Gods won't allow it. They have checkmated my plans with ever-increasing severity". Perhaps that's what's happen through this DVD.
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VINE VOICEon 26 October 2010
This Dvd is best for those persons whose attitudes to and acquaintance with,Crowley and his work/s are basically curious rather than partisan and in that respect the dvd is a trifle televisually bland and/or superficially journalistic but then,for keen fanatic or wary Christian,much less curious rationalist,his life was rather too long and adventurous to be crammed into a mere two hour outing like this.

The Actor was not bad but would have been even better if allowed to mime some of Crowleys own stuff discoverable on Amazon perhaps in costume since the lurid Mage himself was a Bohemian Plus fours man of the Edwardian era before World War One but the Presentation is not without wit,If a little studio-bound.

The work here,is neither exhaustive nor extravagant but perhaps we can hope that Bruce D.might fund something that is,as Crowley could well become a legendary figure,plundered from the myths of the past century for a fresh fictional fame and infamy as so many famous Lives are-But then,does magic work and is it true?Well,yes and no but this DVD is not a primer on Magic or,as Crowley often spelt it,Magick,Black,White,Grey or Piebald but is rather an interessant biographical primer on Crowleys life and worth that if that's all that you seek.

Better to read some books about or by Crowley in addition to watching this film,so as to delve a little deeper into the chronic context and into the biographical details thereof but still a worthy buy,though.
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on 19 February 2011
Well acted, well produced and a fascinating insight into the life, times and loves of the Great Beast!

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on 12 June 2014
this film is a must if you are a Magickan the Crowley way.
thanks fore this film . i love it.
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on 22 February 2009
The Great Beast 666, about the so-called "Wickedest Man in the World" is best approached as an entertaining review of a man whose life is shrouded by myth and hyperbole, much of it self-created. It follows a recent trend for actors dramatising various parts of his life, so does seem a bit overblown and silly at times. It is sensationalised but I think the subject invites that. Ex prog-rocker Rick Wakeman he of the cape in Yes, provides a plinky plonky piano soundtrack.
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on 21 September 2008
This film was great fun. For those die hard Crowley fans I can see why it may be frowned upon, but all in all it was entertaining, cleverly put together mingling the myth with reality. I believe The Beast would have enjoyed it himself, lets face it , a movie all about him, he would have been delighted. For occultists and non occultists I would say by it, grab abeer and dont take life to seriously and you will have a good time with this film. In the end, Do What Thou Will
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