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5.0 out of 5 stars Anger Rising!, 12 Mar 2013
By 
Barry Mac (Liverpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Complete Magick Lantern Cycle [DVD] [2010] [US Import] (DVD)
Kenneth Anger is where the worlds of sub-culture, counter-culture, surrealism, the Avant Garde, Aleister Crowley's Thelema and Anton LaVey's Satanism meet. Anger became interested in Crowley's Occult writings and philosophy of Thelema when in his teens and became a life-long friend of LaVey's - being involved in the founding of the Church of Satan. Notable for his scandalous, revelatory books on the private lives of Tinseltown Stars, "Hollywood Babylon" & "Hollywood Babylon II", his involvements with the Rolling Stones in the 1960's and Jimmy Page in the 1970's have become legendary. Born in 1927, the now Octogenarian Anger has made in excess of 40 films during his cinematic career - one which has seen his films being banned, stolen and/or destroyed. The Magick Lantern Cycle is the collective title given to 9 of his most influential, infamous, Magickally powerful and beautiful creations. They are vivid, wildly colourful, richly symbolic and completely dialogue-free films, with Anger often employing existing songs or classical pieces as soundtracks.

All of the films on this 2-DVD set are Artistic and Magickal masterpieces which Magus Anger created as actual Magickal Talismans to act on the subconscious of the viewer. The full employment of Anger's creative, imaginative and Magick powers to pay homage to Aleister Crowley began properly with "Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome" in 1954, which is an elaborate, fully costumed Thelemic Ritual of many participants, played out to Janacek's "Glagolithic Mass". 10 years later, Anger made "Scorpio Rising" - banned soon after release on obscenity grounds; later liberated by a Supreme Court ruling. "Scorpio" features a real-life biker gang whom Anger befriended, cut with images of Christ & his disciples (from a Sunday School film).

In 1966 Anger started work on another homage to Crowley - his Magnum Opus: "Lucifer Rising". Much of the original film-footage of Anger's "Lucifer" was stolen by Bobby Beausoleil, whom Anger had chosen to play Lucifer in the film. Beausoleil took off in Anger's car with the stolen footage; the car broke down in the Death Valley area of California, right outside of the Charles Manson Family Ranch. Beausoleil fell-in with the Family and later murdered a drug-dealer on Manson's orders, being later sentenced to life imprisonment. Out of the remaining "Lucifer" footage, Anger put together a work called "Invocation Of My Demon Brother" (1969), which is heralded by many as being his most Magickally potent, disturbing and prophetic creation. By this time, Anger had befriended the Rolling Stones, whose brief association with Crowleyan/Satanic things has often been linked to Anger's perceived influence. Many people similarly linked the death of Brian Jones and the Altamont Festival nightmare as having been incurred by Jagger & Richards not taking Anger, Crowley & real Occultism seriously. Anyways, Mick Jagger supplied the soundtrack for "Invocation": an eerie, monotonous, Mellotron drone. The film itself remains a darker kaleidoscopic vision than any of Anger's previous works, being simultaneously unnerving, beautiful, unsettling, seductive, and featuring a cameo role by Anton LaVey. Nightmare newsreel footage of Vietnam is cut/juxtaposed with scenes of Ritual Magick, footage of Hells Angels and the Pagan Funeral Ceremony of Anger's Black Cat. Many who have seen the film on a number of occasions are surprised to discern the presence of "new" images and symbols with each new viewing.

In the early 1970's Anger met & befriended Jimmy Page: not only Led Zep's axe-man but an avid Crowley disciple and owner of an extensive archive of Crowley's rare books and Magickal paraphernalia - including Aleister's former house, Boleskine, on the banks of Loch Ness. In discussing the "Lucifer Rising" project, Page took up Anger's offer to put a soundtrack together for the film, somehow didn't come up with suitable material and kicked off an almighty row. The high-profile fall-out between the two Crowleyites culminated in Anger calling a Press Confrence at which he threatened to throw a "Kenneth Anger Curse" in Page's general direction. The catalogue of "beyond coincidence" misfortunes, reversals, tragedies & disasters that Page & Led Zeppelin then subsequently endured (culminating in the actual demise of the group after drummer John Bonham's death in 1980) were cited by many as evidence that the Anger Curse had, indeed, been levelled.

Anger finally completed "Lucifer Rising" in 1981, complete with a soundtrack composed by Bobby Beausoleil from inside his Tracy Prison home, along with some other musicians/lifers calling themselves "The Freedom Orchestra". The finished film is an overtly Magickal, Symbolic and Ritual homage to the coming of the New Aeon of Horus (or Lucifer) as originally stipulated by Aleister Crowley: a cinematic Ritual Invocation of Lucifer himself, entrancing, hypnotizing and seducing the viewer to the point of actual participation in that Invocation. Anger has stated that there appears an archetypal Lucifer figure in each of his Magick Lantern Cycle films - if only one looks for him...

DVD extras here include "The Man We Want To Hang", which is Anger's 2002 documentary on an exhibition of Crowley's paintings. There is also an alternative version of "Invocation Of My Demon Brother" with a soundtrack by "The Magick Powerhouse Of OZ". Now in his mid-80's, Kenneth Anger is still making films, touring and lecturing. He is the last of the true, genuine Occultists & Magicians.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 23 May 2014
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This review is from: Complete Magick Lantern Cycle [DVD] [2010] [US Import] (DVD)
If you're at all interested in Kenneth Anger - or even in just unusual film-making - then this is a must-have dvd. All his notable shorts on two discs. I watched them one afternoon in a semi-drowsy state and felt transported to a strange dream-like world. They really are like fairy-tales for adults. You won't forget these images in a hurry. And intriguing to notice how influential these films have been on so many film-makers since. Snap up this bargain!
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